June 16th, 2013
Projects in Cartmel and Venice
This year we have studied two locations, one home and one away. Both have a direct connection with sanctuary and with water. It is fabled that Cartmel Priory was founded in a place where fresh water flowed in opposite directions, and Venice, for whom water is not a problem but a theme, was originally a refuge for those locals who were driven into the muddy lagoon by barbarism, brutality and heresy.
See more CiA work here
The aim of these projects was to find a formal solution to a site specific problem through the medium of contextual analysis, choice and manipulation. Ordinary things contain the deepest mysteries and the architect needs to have the capacity to condense the artistic potential of the region while reinterpreting cultural influences, for the building to show a great understanding of both place and tectonics, but also to be totally relevant to the twenty-first century; an architecture that uses contemporary technological and is suitable for the needs of today. This means not resorting to pastiche, but designing buildings and interiors that are visually and operationally applicable to the present day. It is almost thirty years since Kenneth Frampton wrote of the importance of Critical Regionalism, Rowe and Koetter composed Collage City and Rossi recorded The Architecture of the City, and although these ideas, which emerged as a reaction to Modernism, are more than a generation old, they are now more relevant than ever. One of the most pressing concerns for today’s society is how we engage with the existing situation in an appropriate, environmentally friendly and sympathetic manner. The pursuit of strategies for carbon-neutral buildings and places combined with issues of sustainability and heritage are central to all forms of design practice. The vernacular can offer great possibilities, after all, we have for centuries dwelled upon the problem of how to create controlled and conditioned environments for social relationships in buildings. We live under the same sun, shelter from the same rain, and resist buffeting from same wind as our ancestors, and yet within contemporary architecture we devote ever more resources and seek ever more complexity in solving these problems. We believe that less attention should be paid to the gratuitously flamboyant one-off project and more focus placed upon the appropriate. We search for inspiration in the normal and we take encouragement from the familiar. We seek to enhance rather than to overwhelm, we are inspired by the strangeness of the everyday, the unfamiliarity of the commonplace. We seek to establish our position as individuals in a dialogue with the common ground. We look, not just at the design of buildings, but also at the territory around them; public space, shared space, collective space. We investigate how a relationship between constructed form and controlled space can be established. The development of form is a one-by-one practice, a building is composed of diverse concerns and different horizontal connections can be uncovered, using the situation as the compositional driver. Programme evolves from the specific character of the site; it is something that emerges as the form of the building develops. Within a school of architecture, to construct has two different meanings, the first is the more obvious concentration upon the technology of the design, to understand the nature and ontology of the construction, to be aware of how and why a structure is built as it is. The second meaning is the production of the methods of communication. Evans claimed that “recognition of the drawings power as a medium turns out, unexpectedly, recognition of the drawing’s distinctness from and unlikeness to the thing that is represented, rather than its likeness to it, which is neither as paradoxical nor as dissociative as it may seem.” We believe that it is important that intent is shown as well as proposal. Context has dominated the design process; therefore it should play an important role in the communication. If the proposal is one element among a structure of objects and moments, situation will command.
Remember Reveal Construct
April 16th, 2013
The Gate 81 project hacklab/workshop/charette has been arranged for May 2013.
Link: Gate 81 Hacklab
Email for firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in taking part.
March 18th, 2013
Recently CiA were honoured to receive a guided tour the Scottish Ballet Head Quarters in Glasgow, by the project architect, Clive Albert of Malcolm Fraser Architects. The building shares an entrance with the Tramway Gallery, and we although we had been warned about the inauspicious entrance, as we approached the building from Pollokshields station, the building did indeed look almost derelict. The SBHQ is actually entered from a staircase within the lobby of the Gallery, which deliberately encourages interaction between the different types of artist endeavour. The building itself is regarded as a place of work, rather that a place for performance, almost akin to an office and so it has a sense of serine calm and privacy rather than the dramatic flamboyance of a theatre. The dancers and all of the support staff turn up for workin the morning, just as the rest of us do.
The exterior of the building is tough, robust and somewhat uncompromising, however the interior is intricate and fastidious accomplishment. The sheer scale of the dance studios dictates the plan, but even so, these huge orthogonal spaces are skilfully arranged around a top-lit communal area. It is from here that the intricate three-dimensional relationships that have been created within the building are visible.
The timber-clad interior exudes the kind of warmth that the dancers need to keep their muscles supple. The studios themselves are uncluttered and clean. The space is graduated, so that the busy-ness of the ceiling space seems to recede into the greyness, leaving the pure white walls of the lower area to define the studio itself.
It is the fastidious attention to detail that ultimately defines this building. From the vertical timber batons on the interior walls to the deliberate inconsistency of the colour of the exterior cladding, it is clear that the architects have carefully considered the manner in which the building is used, the effect of weathering, and the experience of occupying it.
February 25th, 2013
Continuity in Architecture is almost twenty years old. It is something that we would like to celebrate and we fully intend to mark the occasion with some sort of jamboree or other such event. Look out for further posts.
Over the years we have conducted projects in many different locations: Palma, Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Dublin, Manchester, London, Valencia, Sant Sadurni, just to start with. But there is one location that we keep coming back to, it is a place that through position, evolution, history and neglect has a huge amount to offer us in Continuity in Architecture: it is of course: Preston. We have produced some marvellous proposals for the place, from bridges to tunnels, new urban squares to department stores, almost non-existent interventions to massive demolition works, all of which have their basis in the understanding and translation of the qualities of the area.
So it is with great anticipation that we notice that another institution has also recognised the worth of the place. The RIBA have just launched their FORGOTTEN SPACES competition in the engrossing city of Preston. Why not have a go? Why not have a look at the project that you’ve already designed? Let us remember some of your fabulous work. See extract from the competition brief below and competition call here
“Preston is full of potential for development, with proposals for major investment across the city. However, there still remain pockets of obscure leftover land and neglected plots that could- with imagination and new thinking- accommodate a host of functions, respond to local needs and provide a counterpoint to these wider investment proposals.
Held for the first time in the North West, this design competition asks architects, planners, artists, engineers and landscape designers to nominate an existing over- looked site in Preston and propose an idea for its improvement.
A ‘forgotten space’ could be small or large - a grassy verge, a wasteland, an unused car park, a derelict building, an empty unit, an underpass or a flyover. The proposal could be simple or complex, a commercial or public facility, a piece of public art or a new building. The main requirement is that it responds to the surrounding area and serves a function for the local community.”
February 18th, 2013
“…I would say that even in historic times documents are not always available, and buildings (monuments, vernacular constructions and public works) are themselves important texts, often providing the first and most lasting impression of a culture.”*
The voids in the urban landscape, which are created by virtue of the enclosing nature of the surrounding buildings, have great value. These gaps, spaces or holes are important, for it is these that are occupied, that the visitor or resident will visit, pass through or inhabit. The structures that surround these squares contribute to the quality of the environment. Many buildings are deformed to accommodate the purity of the square, however some can exist as pure elements even within a complex system of buildings and voids. Ideal forms can exist as fragments, and can be viewed as mere collaborative elements to be“collaged” into an urban environment, and thus, rather than exist exclusively as landmarks, can contribute to the composition of the city.
In December 2012 Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston Bus Station and replace it with a surface car park. This building is a major cultural landmark and it should be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city. It could act as a key building and public space to make Preston accessible and temper the decay that is affecting our city, and so many other city centres across the UK.
We will explore the nature of the fragment within an historic city, we will bring the Bus Station to Antwerp, it will occupy a definite place within the urban environment, it will:
INTERRUPT the city
December 16th, 2012
December 7th, 2012
November 18th, 2012
November 16th, 2012
September 25th, 2012
Projects in Venice and Cartmel
This year Continuity in Architecture will offer two projects, one at home and the other away, but both have a strong connection with water and with travel.
“It is very old, and very grand, and bent-backed. Its towers survey the lagoon in crotchety splendour, some leaning one way, some another. Its skyline is elaborate with campaniles, domes, pinnacles, cranes, riggings, television aerials, crenellations, eccentric chimneys and a big grain elevator. There are glimpses of flags and fretted rooftops, marble pillars, cavernous canals. An incessant bustle of boats passes before the quays of the place; a great white liner slips towards its port; a multitude of tottering palaces, brooding and monstrous, presses towards its water-front like so many invalid aristocrats jostling for fresh air. It is a gnarled but gorgeous city… the whole seems to shimmer – with pinkness, with age, with self-satisfaction, with sadness, with delight.” James Morris, Venice
“I have written about the Britons who first hid themselves here from their Roman invaders, of the Viking sailors who crossed the northern seas in search for homes, of their Anglian and Norman-French overlords, of the monks and Canons who with a call from God came here to teach and to build, bringing with them a stable Christian civilisation. Those who followed have made many mistakes, they have quarrelled and suffered and found happiness; they quarrelled about religion and politics, they suffered from flood, plague, hunger and fire, and each generation as it grew up has found countless homely pleasures, cheerful friendships, the love of their homes and work on the sands, in the fields and woods, even as many of us do today.” Sam Taylor, Cartmel: People and Priory
The story adjusts its gait to the slow progress of the iron-bound hoofs on the climbing paths, towards a place that contains the secret of the past and of the future, which contains time coiled around itself like a lasso hanging from the pommel of a saddle. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller
Remember Reveal Construct
June 15th, 2012
ON THE INDUSTRIAL RUINS
Continuity in Architecture has run two projects this year, both in post-industrial cities: Preston and Barcelona. Each city has approached the problem of how to transform the unban environment to accommodate the needs of the twenty-first century population in a different manner. As always we began with a study of the urban environment, within CiA, the emphasis is always directed towards the site, the place, the situation. Relationships that exist between the different textures within the condition of the location can be explored, translated and interpreted. And thus the form of the new is influenced not by the function but by the form of the existing, and so it is not form follows function, but form follows form.
It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness. (Charles Dickens, Coketown)
Blind with Love for a Language
The prospects of the Barcelonese worker remained the same throughout the nineteenth century: grinding, brutish, and without much hope of change… They lived cramped in garrets and basements, without heat or light or air. Midcentury Barcelona made Dickensian London look almost tolerable; Cerda` found that its population density was about 350 people per acre, twice that of Paris, and that workers had a living space of about ninety square feet per person. (Robert Hughes, Barcelona)
Remember, Reveal, Construct
June 1st, 2012
A Facebook group has been formed to organize opposition to the new proposals for Vincent Harris’s Library Walk in Manchester.
Read the Heritage Statement (pdf) produced by the developer’s historic building adviser. Quote from statement: how this left-over space came into being and the fact it is not a particularly pleasant space