Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Introduction post.

Hi, my name is Scott Todd, or Toddy if you will.  I started this blog in order to share my opinions and such with the world wide web. I imagine the content I provide will vary greatly, hopefully providing an interesting / thought provoking and humorous view point to the things that make the world go round.

I'll also more than likely be posting a lot of information about architecture.  A mix of some of my own university projects and things I find interesting about the profession I imagine.  We will see how things develop!

I'll try to keep the posts relatively concise and interesting to read. I know you kids like your messages short and sweet, what with your texting and tweeting and whatnot. So to kick things off.. some university work from my 3rd year. Feels like a long time ago now but I still enjoy the project:

"Building Armagh's Identity"

The project is a proposed town hall for Armagh - a city within Northern Ireland. The new building seeks to provide a centralised base from which the county of Armagh can build political and social agendas for the future. Street perspective below.

The building is to be located on the site of the previous town hall that now only remains as a memory of the locals. The site is currently occupied by a large car park, shown on the map below outlined in red.

The larger scale map from 1908 shows the site as it sits in this block of the city, surrounded by 3 main roads. It is of note that the site sits next to the Shambles market yard. A space which is used weekly by the city.

Some research into the site investigating vehicular access with the observation that the car park is often closed allowing no movement through the site. I address the significance of the Market yard and the main shopping road on which the Building will sit - Upper English Street (yard and street ringed in yellow) Also worth observing the site falls by 4 meters in a slope.

The site is overlooked by 2 Large Religious buildings, A church and a Cathedral. Armagh is often referred to as the Religious Capital of Ireland so I felt it significant to insure some visual connection between the new civic building and the existing heritage.

Cultural identity

The city of Armagh is rich with historical culture, it is referred to as the
religious capital of Ireland as well as the “orchard county”. I also observed that many people used this space to travel through / eat their lunch in, even though it is a drab car park. These were the two main motives in my decision to create a sequence of apple gardens throughout the site. The building seeks to connect these exterior spaces together by treating them as 'rooms' with their quality of space considered to the same level as the interior spaces.

The composition is based around a central council chamber, which controls the garden spaces situated around it. The democratic centre is the heart of the building connecting the green spaces around it. I explored this connection of interior to exterior in many sketches and models as I felt transparency and openness were key to the quality of space as well as the political ideologies that should be represented in a civic building.

Continuing the thought process of the building's political agenda I felt it was important to prioritise the council member's offices (22 council members represent the Armagh people) This is shown in red on the sketched plan. The space is wide and open with a large meeting area in the form of an atrium where the public are invited in to speak with their council member. The council offices also engage visually with Upper English Street this was another motif of transparency and openness.

There is an area of the building dedicated to more social activities for the public, such as a café, library, it suite and resident services. These functions have been consolidated into a wing of the building shown in blue. This wing serves an important social purpose as well as architecturally being quite significant – they open up the site to form a wide, well lit avenue. This is a large improvement over the current situation where houses are feet away from a large concrete wall (see photo of existing, and my proposed urban walk way - which offers a clear connection through to the market yard and the cathedral)

Political and social identity

The ambition is to create a new building of power and responsibility for the community to take pride in and identify with. This is achieved by allowing the public unparalleled involvement in the internal functions of a civic building through large social meeting spaces for the public to convene with their council members, or indeed through the open nature of the council chamber allowing for public spectating.

The large green spaces, interconnected with the civic nature of the internal spaces marry the important political functions of the
building with areas for recreation and relaxation for public and civil servant alike. The gardens step down gradually following the natural contours of the site. Interior wheel chair ramps insure that entering the building on a higher or lower level is no difficulty.

Aesthetic identity within the city

The architecture seeks to blend with the existing identity in scale and form whilst having independence and modernity. This is achieved through decisions such as allowing the front facade (where the council offices are located) to reflect the strong chimney elements of the building's neighbour. Keeping the building at a respectable scale on the street scape also insures views to the cathedral are not disturbed.

Aesthetically the nature of the council chamber was explored further. I felt it important that this key space displayed an organic nature without the limitations of maintaining a truly organic structure, such as the timber trellis I explored (shown below)

I decided to represent the organic nature of the space though exploring the cellular composition of nature, and allowing this to inform the design of the large frame that maintains the council chamber space.

Elevations along the main shopping road Upper English Street.

And also along Dawson Street – the road between the site and the Shambles Market. I felt it important to reflect the brick materiality of the adjoining houses.

Sections explaining the visual and physical sequence of connections I wanted the building to have between it's rooms and garden spaces.

Well that's it I'll not labour this with any more information for now, it's actually a lot more than I intended to put anyway.. just got carried away!

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