Ahad Mahmood

P1.3 – Threshold

Neepsend, near Owlerton was an interesting site, on one side was a dirt bike track and endless mounds, hills and trees, on the other side (of a river) were industrial works, factories, it was split in two. We had to design a place or refuge for Kayakers, somewhere they could change, have tea and maybe relax for a while before getting back out on the river. I placed my building a small hill, to me, a perfect vantage point for seeing both sides. This placement allowed me to give Kayakers direct access to the river, while also giving myself architecture freedom to explore the context further. I decided up a timber hut of sorts; a cuboid lower ground floor giving access from the walking path to the river, a ground floor for changing and admin, and a first floor to brief relaxation and contemplation over looking the hills and the factories. I wanted to make a connection between the disjointed nature of the environment. You would enter from one side, and leave the other, and through this movement you would be seeing two very different environments. I wanted to use the lowerground floor as a threshold in a way, you would walk through the green path, and as you moved through the structure, you would end up facing the river and the factories. A tired Kayaker would come back via the LG floor and immediately experience a transition as he/she would go upstairs, sit down and enjoy the view of the hills in the opposite direction to the factories.

P2.2 – Perform

My initial reaction to ¬†Darnall was one of confusion; it very much seemed like a community, yet as an outsider I felt intimidated, or unwanted. The multicultural nature of Darnall was evident from the first visit, as was the obvious tensions within the community due to this. But it was still a community… People seemed to go about their business in a non-speaking way. It gave the impression of ‘you mind your own business and we’ll mind ours’. Basically, it was a community in the balance. The area was filled with terrace housing, small shops, crumbling brick, abandoned furniture, but it had it’s own type of charm. Small details, such as the chimneys, areas where stone had been replaced by brick and other sorts of textural qualities. From an architectural perspective I felt I had to tread carefully, a building designed with no character would get lost amongst the other buildings, a building with too much may upset the balance. I decided on a three storey comedy club, something I feel will always bring cultures together, with the top floor left for poetry, music or community based performances. Materiality was key, and I was happy with a red brick and timber mullion facade, as well as a pitched roof reflecting the shapes near by. I wanted to play with the facade, keep it asymmetrical, small details, reflecting Darnall’s character. The experience inside was designed to be a place a laughter; dim lights, eyes on the stage, drink in one hand. But the architecture was designed to change as you walked up, the middle floor acting as a threshold between the upper stage and lower stage; bringing two different experiences together. Where there was dim artificial lighting, and tabletop candles on the ground floor, you would have a fireplace, evening light and fairy lights hitting you on the upper level, a more personal experience.