Rich Rothwell

Caving Hut

Located at the Giant’s Hole cave just outside of Castleton, Derbyshire; this project was for a hut to provide shelter for a small caving club of ten to twenty people. The brief for the project asked for a temporary structure that should respond to the threshold conditions at the site.

My building is located at the base of the valley, along the line of sight with the cave mouth. I chose to use this point as a barrier in the valley, marking the transition from the emptiness of the Peak District to the enclosure of the cave system. My proposal also uses the threshold of above and below, with the design acting as a foil to the cave itself: raised above the valley as opposed to buried beneath it; soft timber contrasting to solid rock; welcoming warmth opposing cold stone. However, the design also mimics a cave, with the building separated into different volumes by function and connected by a single walkway.

The temporary aspect of the project is addressed both through materiality and design. My initial concept was to create a tent like construction, with a structural frame and lightweight skin. This developed into a series of vertical timber posts at the enclosure boundary, connected by horizontal joists upon which the volumes making up the building would rest. In this way, the building could be removed from site with little difficulty. However, the posts would remain as a boundary marker due to them having concrete foundations and steel supports. The building itself would also be constructed from lightweight timber panels that could easily be joined together, and then clad in horizontal timber planks.

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Community Theatre

The brief for this project was to design a community theatre and local hub in Darnall, a suburb to the southeast of Sheffield city centre. This site for my design was an unoccupied brownfield plot on the high street, opposite the road to the train station and near to the Sheffield ring road.

My design is for a theatre with the objective of actively involving locals in the theatrical production process. The backstage area, traditionally private, is brought into the public area of the building. Instead of hiding rehearsal spaces, the studio and workshop area of the theatre is viewable from a public balcony, with only the changing rooms fully private. The ground floor has a ticket desk and cafe, and is accessible from both the main road and the public park that connects through to the library behind the site. The theatre itself uses ‘in the round’ seating to create a more informal and involved atmosphere, and is raised up above the studio space. The raised volume becomes the focus of the inside of the building, with the rest of the space acting as a ‘backstage’ during performances, with set changes, character changes and transitions all occurring in full public view.

The geometric outer shell of the building provides a stark contrast to the curved theatre. The two walls facing public spaces are floor to ceiling glass with a series of steel panels that channel the onlooker’s view through the building, giving a sense of performance to the facade. The interior of the main building has a smooth concrete finish, whilst in contrast the theatre volume is wrapped in light timber supported by a solid timber frame. The roof, partially held up by the outer walls and the theatre supports, is finished with steel as a reference to the area’s industrial heritage.

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In Progress

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