The brief was for an observatory, a small building located in Higger Tor, a dominant landmark of the Dark Peak located in the north of the Peak District National Park. Working alongside Nurul Nabilah for the project, we decided to dedicate a moon observatory to the site for the importance and the beauty of the moon. The site has an elevation of 1424ft, quite low relative to other peaks which means more people from all ages are welcome to the area, which makes it ideal for a public moon observatory as we’ve decided.
Our first thought was to create an architectural intervention that sits on the nature, and looks like nature as well. However, our program requirement is quite demanding. The large scale telescope need to be housed within a dome or similar structure to protect the delicate instruments, while the observatory demanded the observation facility to be catered along with overnight accommodation for 2 people, a small multipurpose club, tea point, office and equipment stores. We then evolve our observatory to a circular loop after a few variations of spatial consideration. The shape and functions of an astrolabe informally informed our decision-making process, with the intend to enrich one experience of the moon in our building. Even though it is a small single storey gallery, the play of light gives the spaces with great variation of spatial experience – from contained and controlled to open and day-lit.
The brief was for a small community theatre building in Ancoats, an inner city to the northern part of Manchester city centre. Ancoats is a site rich with history, as it was once called ‘the world’s first industrial suburb’ with cotton widely known as the main industry in the locality but suffered from depopulation after WWII. Despite its regeneration phase that took place during the period of our project, I felt the area is very idyllic and rather lonely, although surprisingly the busier Manchester city centre is just 10 minutes away.
There were two big theaters within a 15 minutes walking distance, and various other theaters in Northern Quarter, the fancier city just next to Ancoats. Hence, I came up with the idea of a 10-minutes theatre. A concept much derived from the world of iPad and iPhone, where it could attract young people, busy adult, or any passerby to come and educate themselves through the theatre.
I see that Ancoats needs a community cultural hub, apart from many lively street frontages, which is what the theatre is dedicated to. The perforated brick skin intended to make passerby see what is happening inside, and subconsciously wanting to go inside. During the day the building functions serve as a cafe and a space for cultural activities, adjustable from the black box theatre space.
The third project was set in Burngreave. The site is situated on the north east fringe of Sheffield City Centre, bounded by Ellesmere Road and Buckenham Street. The requirement is to accommodate both families and an additional domestic group, in which I choose to support the single-parent families and individual who is trapped with isolation by providing co-housing to combat alienation and regenerate neighborhood spirit.In addition to the point that the adjacent buildings are a community centre and a children centre, the parents and individual can fully utilize and take advantages of both of these programmes to their needs. Burngreave has a relatively lower property values but in close proximity with Sheffield city centre, and the site is also close to Spital Hill District Centre, a key gateaway and an important route that links the neighbourhood with districts of the north, which makes having to commute from works to home less of a burden to the single-parents.