After concluding my second year of studies at the Sheffield School of Architecture, I certainly feel that the design projects, assignments and workload have moulded me into a better and more well rounded architecture student. Above all, this year has instilled within me, the importance of every step within the design process. I understand more greatly the value of every development and every piece of work to represent this process, and through this, I have explored various different forms of visual representation in order to depict my every move. Although I feel that my comfortable skillset lies within the fields of hand drawing and model-making, second year has allowed me the opportunity to vastly strengthen my abilities in digital software, from Photoshop to Computer Aided Design, (Vectorworks.) Tackling this years three projects, has enhanced my understanding in designing small scale buildings, medium-sized public buildings and housing developments, all skills which I am confident will be valuable when entering into third year and future projects.
P1 Kayak Centre
Our requirement was to design a building to accommodate our given activity, in this case, Kayaking. We were asked to provide a strong response to the context as well as a design that
would store up to 10 kayaks of different sizes, and other equipment, with an administration space, a sheltered outdoor space, a chosen jetty/launch area, accessible toilets and locker/changing
My approach ties back to the original purpose of a kayak- its use as a hunting tool. Its subtle and stealthy qualities were all traits which I intended to tie into the design and form of my centre. It is for this reason that my building respects the sloping context and adapts into a form which seems perpendicular to the topography, whilst internally, it moulds itself to act practically without scarring the landscape. Although, it is not just the physical attributes of the site which I chose to preserve, it is also the narrative and route through as well as views across the landscape. The design is split into two units, of which both have an aligned corridor walkway to frame the existing dirt path which acts as a route down to the river.
The key approach to undertake here, was the re-inventing of the library model in todays age and how it can be implemented to work and connect with the given sites. In addition to this over-arching theme an approach to creating a cafe or similar public interface as well as an urban facade to a street edge, was required in order to experiment and form an understanding of how such features
can create a range of thresholds between public and private and internal and external. Other requirements aside from the main library itself were storage space, stacks, and an information zone.
My approach to this project rose from the work we undertook during the neighbourhood study. Our site lay between two distinctly different roads, Ecclesall Road and Neill Road and my strategy involved connecting the communities of both environments within a community library where integration and communication is at the core of its concept. The library itself existed facing Neill Road and so its ground floor façade echoed a geometric and domestic design where the bookshelves internally aligned with the curtain wall arrangement. In order to draw people in from the Ecclesall Road edge, I extracted the café from the main building and placed it as a kiosk on an empty section of the street edge and thus used the alleyway behind it, to connect both library and café. The museum building directly behind the library had an outward window and so my approach to not block light and views, inadvertently created my form, through which I established a light-well arrangement to illuminate all 3 floors. To further establish a sense of integration, custom made furniture, to encourage conversation, replaces tables and chairs, and the bookshelf arrangement continues along the alleyway as a form of storage but also cladding.
Our brief required us to design a housing project to accommodate both families and an additional domestic group. Other requirements were to make each dwelling accessible from ground level, provide an adaptable space for work, study or recreation, include a community facility appropriate to our project, provide an attitude towards environmental issues and parking, and finally, to demonstrate an approach to designing whilst considering the imapacts on the street and neighbourhood.
Our neighbourhood study pointed out that various different age groups live within the area around the site. However, certain groups feel that it is difficult to mix with other age groups and believe that if the benefits of intergenerational housing were put across to the wider community, integration and communication would be much easier between households and residents. My housing types are designed to exist in pairs upon the site. On the ground floor, the right property would belong to an elderly couple, and the left property, plus the entire first floor over both homes, would be for a young start up family. In terms of the landscaping of the site, I have raised the housing up onto the highest point, below which is the main garden and resident allotment area. Part of the site is also cut into at the lowest level to slot in a parking zone and the communal hub which will educate residents of different age groups together in activities such as growing and planting. The neighbourhood study also suggested that Gleadless Road is a tough area for new businesses, therefore, I have opened up a derelict pathway onto the site to act as a market for not only residents but also for the wider community to use. In terms of materiality, each elderly block will be clad in brick whilst the family home on both floors will be timber clad. The marriage of a heavy and light material plays with the themes of solidity and temporal, but above all, reflects how one wraps around the other for mutual protection and benefit, echoing the very principles of intergenerational housing.
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