A sawmill for Glenarm

Sadly, the blog has been neglected lately due to the all encompassing final few months of my degree, but now that it’s all over and handed in, I thought I should share my final project! We were tasked with designing a sawmill for the small coastal village of Glenarm, on the Antrim coast. On closer inspection of the forest, I found out that like a lot of woodlands in the UK, its larch trees have been diagnosed with the P.Ramorum disease. A huge amount of the forest will have to be cut down, and so my building became about the larch cull.

I sought to create a very simple, temporary structure for the sawmill, which would quickly and efficiently deal with the diseased trees. Following the felling of the trees, the mill can be removed, as the forest is not large enough for commercial forestry, leaving only its limestone plinth it sat upon.

Image

The limestone slabs, acid etched with a dendrite motif, will remain as a reminder of the cull, and become an important new place for the people of Glenarm to enjoy the forest. My project was heavily influenced by two books by Robert MacFarlane, “The Old ways”, and “Holloway”, which were recommended by bldg blog, and have become some of my all time favourite books. They helped me begin to appreciate what landscape means to people, and how it shapes our identity, and what it would mean for this forest to become so altered. This helped me try and understand what would be a sympathetic approach to the brief.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Advertisements

Road Trip Day 2-Our Lady of Lourdes

Day two of our architectural road trip followed on from Day one with a visit to another Liam McCormick church called Our Lady of Lordes in Steelstown. It’s amazing how each of McCormicks churches vary so much in materials, form, and spatial quality. Compared to the four churches we visited on day one, this one was completely different again.

 

The interior is dominated by the heavy wooden mass of the angled roof, seemingly floating above your head. In a completely different sense to the church in Cresslough, Our Lady of Lourdes resists celebrating any exterior views, and disconnects itself from the outside, with the only windows lining the base of the walls.

 

The ark made by Noah is brought to mind. Whilst sitting inside the church, any sense of the houses, road, or people outside, are forgotten. The pitched roof, wooden cladding, and dim lighting create a very incubated and inward looking atmosphere.

After the visit to Our Lady of Lordes, the rest of the day was filled with the drive down to Dublin, with a quick stop at the airport to look at de Paor architects cafe inside Terminal 2, a walk around Temple Bar, and an early night in before the antics of Day three began.

 

Road Trip Day 1. Liam McCormick churches.

This week I am embarking on a short architecture road trip in Ireland. My Uni has been kind enough to allow us all an ‘outside week’ to explore and study whatever we like, on a kind of self guided learning trip.

Today we took a mini bus and set out to visit four of Liam McCormicks seven churches of Donegal. Unfortunately the Chapel at Burt was closed for renovation today, but If you would like to see a previous post I’ve written about it click here. 

First stop was the unique Star of the Sea Chapel at Desertegney, (again to see a previous post I’ve written of this church click here) with the next stop being St.Peters in Milford. Vastly different from Star of the Sea, this building felt very Aalto-esq to me, with wood and brick providing a sombre, dark interior.

Unlike Star of the Sea Chapel, this churches fixtures and furniture seemed much more considered and complimented the architecture. The varnished wood reflected the windows light and patterns up onto the ceiling, constantly holding your gaze upwards.


The final stop was by far my favourite. St.Michaels in Cresslough was completed in 1971. Set in a craggy landscape with Muckish mountain in its backdrop, it mimics its surroundings and landscape perfectly.

A beautiful exterior feature, similar to a detail at Burt chapel, was how water from the roof gutter reached the drains on ground level.

The collected water from the gutters is allowed to trickle down a spiked metal chain, and slowly collect in a still pool at the bottom.

Inside, the chapel takes on a curving fan shape, opening up on the right to take on the view of the mountain. Stain glass windows have not been used in the main chapel, leaving a clean, white light. The smaller side chapels instead showcase deep set, Ronchomp like coloured windows.

I could have sat in St.Michaels for hours it was just so serene and quiet! Let me know which of the churches you like most. Day two of the trip coming soon!

Belfast Bathhouse

So my long blogging hiatus is hopefully over! Last week I had my January portfolio submission of my years work so far, with our main project being a Belfast bathhouse. I thought I would share with you some of my work for it, and hopefully when I get my results in a week or two all will have gone well! (Click each image to enlarge)

Drawing of the site just of Belfasts City Hall 

Sketches of the different approaches one could take to the site
Sketches of the different approaches one could take to the site

labelled floor plans

labelled floor plans 

Long Section through building
Long Section through building 

Hand drawn technical perspective section, highlighting the fabric walls
Hand drawn technical perspective section, highlighting the fabric walls

 

 

 

Site Illustrations

My latest brief in Uni has been to design a new bathhouse for Belfast’s City Centre, and since the project has just begun, a lot of my work so far has been site analysis, eg. examining foot-fall, sun patterns, and surrounding buildings. I haven’t much to share but I thought I’d upload these 1:500 street elevations I have just finished painting! Let me know what you think! (Click on the images to enlarge!!)

Wellington Street

Carving and Building Space

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago ( click here to read) my first university project of 3rd Year was called ‘Carving space’. From a 8x8x10m mass we had to create a beautiful entrance, stairway, and final room. Continuing on from this, we then had a project called ‘Building Space’, were we had to take our designs, take them out of the mass, and apply materiality, surface and substance to the projects, adding layers of detail and technical knowledge. I had my crit on Friday and since it went well I thought I’d share this introductory task with you all!

This first image is of my sketch section for the ‘carving space’ portion of the project, showing mass and light. The corridor and main room are weaved between tall light wells which pierce the top of the mass. These corridors and final room then ‘borrow’ light from the light tunnels, rather than receiving direct light.

Image

Image

Following this stage, I then had to think about materiality, and taking this space out of the mass.

Image

Image

My building eventually ended up with these tall brass light wells, which reflect the sunlight down through tiny connections into the main space. Not only do they fill the spaces with a warm orange glow, but they capture sound, changing the acoustics inside into an echoey metallic vibration. The other surfaces are textured concrete with stitching running through them, inspired by the work of Tactility Factory in Belfast.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 15.26.57

I made a video showcasing the way the light travelled through the building at different times of the day, and the tinny sound rain would make as it travelled through the light wells and bounced off the metal, unfortunately I can’t upload it on the blog but let me know what you think and if you would like to continue to see uni updates 🙂

The Stirling Prize 2013

So Astley Castle, designed by Witherford Watson Mann has just won the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture! I’m very happy with the decision if not a little disappointed, as Niall Mclaughlins Bishop Edward Kind Chapel in Oxfordshire was my personal favourite to win, with the castle being my second.

I’ve been keeping up with the Stirling Prize quite a lot this year. I attended the RIBA Stirling Stories on the 10th of September in London, to have the opportunity to hear all six practices in the shortlist talk about their own schemes, explain their working method, and put forward an argument as to why they had contributed the most to Architecture.

What struck me as I listened was how much Astley Castle, and the King Bishop Chapel, were the two real labours of love. These were the only two to me that appeared crafted, loved and almost like prized art pieces, as their own designers and makers talked us through them with real zeal and enthusiasm for their work.

Witherford Watson Mann, the Architects of Astley Castle, began their 6 minute pitch with ‘We like to go for walks, and we found this castle on one of those walks’. Immediately they were narrating to us their own working method, taking us on a journey through their long procedure. They argued that their bespoke approach to restoring the Castle, by almost not restoring it was not a niche project, unrelated to British architecture as a whole. Instead they argued that this very light handed approach to what has been already built can be applied all around us. So many buildings lie derelict and crumbling, Witherford Watson Mann champion the approach, through Astley Castle, that we should let them hold their past stories, memories and histories in their crumbling walls, and very lightly install and place newer structure around and between the wreckage. I think it is a beautiful approach and a well deserved winner for the 2013 Stirling Prize! What do you think? Who was your favourite to win?