Between Housing & Canal
The building is positioned between the small square of the housing estate and the canal. Above ground the building provide modestly scaled rooms. Under ground a large hall face the controlled water of the canal.
In this area very large buildings sit next to small ones, new buildings sit next to old. The contrast is softened by the decay and lack of maintenance affecting all structures. As you look around the horisontal lines of exposed floor slabs show the stacked layers of floors.
The Building Shell
The building is placed on the edge of the estate. It has no direct access to a street only to the internal space of the estate, the canal and a path. The positioning and form of the building shell is designed to preserve views from the estate, create a shortcut in the city, announce its presence on the square, create a southfacing outdoor sun space and a large interior space with a close connection to water. The design of the shell has implications on the interior organisation, in this case the shell and its openings enable the building to be used as multiple buildings with a variety of functions and ownerships.
New construction in this area often use brick as cladding, in an attempt to subvert the language of the brick veneer and to refer to the exposed edgeslabs of the area the steel shelves supporting the brick are exposed and double as lintels. For this to work, wider than normal mortar joints must be used. Behind the brick veneer the stucture consists of a concrete box sunken into the ground and a steel framed building on top.
Brick is perfectly suited to complex site conditions and an agglomerate knitting of the urban fablic. Brick is conceptually in constant change. It can spread, contract, pile up, fill in, and cover. It is a material of addition and takeaway. It is not easily violated it absorbs and incorporates whatever you throw at it.
The exterior is treated as a veneer hung off the structure, interior rooms are created by placing open boxes upside down on the floor. The concept has multiple effects, the rooms are more like buildings, the rooms can have freer relationships to the building shell and to eachother. John Soane uses this device in the interiors of his home, niches and inetween spaces are created between rooms and between rooms and facade. By taking Soanes concept further another type of space can be created, a space inside the shell but between interiors. This space can be small, holding a flourescent tube. Medium, a corridor or storage space. Large, a room between interiors. Dominant, making interiors seem as buildings placed inside the shell of the exterior.
The thinness of the boxes is emphasized by recessing reveals behind the sheetmaterial of the walls, making the thin edge of the sheet visible. Openings in the interior can be made slightly smaller than the ones on the exterior (Soane). In the spaces between, the structure and to some extent the construction is exposed giving them an exterior feel.
Inspiration & references
Most of the ideas were born in the My Room project. The themes were then developed and inspired by various images and projects, the painting of st Jerome showed the poetic scope of the ideas. Corbs library exemplified an approach integrated into the structure.
A building that permits various permutations of ownership and use. Organising the spatial structure in such a way that connections can be made or prevented easily.