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