FORGOTTEN SPACES

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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.

 Remember – Reveal – Construct

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.”

 

Gate 81: Workshop at the University in Antwerp

ANTWERP INTERRUPTED

Link to student projects 

“…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.”*

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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

 “The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, in contrast to the engineer, he does not subordinate each one of them to the acquisition of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the project: his universe of tools is closed, and the rule of his game is to always make do with ‘what’s available’, that is, a set, finite at each instance, of tools and materials, heterogeneous to the extreme, because the composition of the set is not related to the current project, or, in any case, to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions that have occurred to renew or enrich the stock, or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions.”#

 *VIA 8 Architecture & Literature, Form, Modernism & History ed. A. von Hoffmann, Harvard 1996 (* quotation from Interactive Realms by Jorge Silvetti). #Lévi-Strauss, C La Pensée Sauvage Librairie Plon, Paris, 1962, ch 1, p 31 [Ref. 59, p 17]