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
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
April 25th, 2012
Continuity in Architecture is delighted to announce the opening of an important exhibition of twelve projects from the Erasmus Intensive Workshop held in Venice in Autumn 2011. The show features the work of post-graduate students from the CiA Unit of Manchester School of Architecture, collaborating with students and professors from Granada and Barcelona (Spain), Venice and Catania (Italy), and Oulo (Finland). The programme is in its third year and was established to explore the adaptation of archaeological sites for modern purposes. This year extraordinary sites of ancient civilisations in south-west Sicily - in Scicli, Syracuse, Paliké and Camarina - were the inspiration for dramatic design interventions in the landscape that redefined and reinterpreted place.The exhibition will be in the RIBA Hub, Cube Gallery on Portland Street from 26 April - 18 May 2012.
March 5th, 2012
Sally Stone has just returned from the Winter School at the University of Antwerp. This important annual event invites academics and architects to run projects upon a specific theme, this years was Transformer.
Antwerp, an important city in northern Belgium, in the north of Europe, has been sought after and fought over for centuries thanks to its sheltered position on the estuary of the River Scheldt, the mild climate and the tolerant people. The legacy is a patchwork of ancient and modern architecture in which baroque rubs up against art deco, the traditional adjacent to the contemporary and the scarified next to the ephemeral
Look, said the voice … “A vacant lot at dusk” … “Long blurry beach” … “Sometimes you’d think he’d never use a camera before” … “Crumbling walls, dirty terrace, gravel path, a sign that says Office” … “A cement box by the side of the road” … “Restaurant windows, out of focus” … I don’t know what the hell he’s trying to get at.”
Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño
the City: the Building: the Room
“One could look from the campiello through openings, balustrades, screens, and discern the garden at the other side … and behold something at once a mystery and reality.”*
Architecture is the mediator between the City and the Room. An act of translation occurs at the point where the outside meets the inside. The window, door or threshold transforms the nature of the exterior and moderates it to accommodate the interior. When viewed from the hostile environment of the outside, the interior can possess qualities that are perhaps ethereal, enchanting or reassuring.
Imagine a crowd gathering in the Grote Markt, the quality of the light in the square, the coldness of the damp and windswept space, look through those twinkling windows of the tall imposing buildings, envisage what would be happening in these spaces, picture the character of the rooms behind the facades, create this interior.
*Carlo Scarpa talking about the Fondazione Querini Stampalia
The City: We examined the particular qualities and characteristics of routes from the Grote Markt to the edge of the central area, and then back again. This analysis led us to create proposals for the transformation of the journey into a narrative; that is a collection of forms and spaces that communicated the essence of this excursion.
The Building: We analysed the particular qualities and character of the Guild-Houses that face the Grote Mark. We looked at the size, scale, materials, construction, occupation and most importantly the quality of the light.
The Room: We translated the ideas that were developed for the abstract space into a real proposal for the interior design of a space or collection of spaces within the Guild-houses.
February 27th, 2012
Pugin: the Search for the True Gothic
2012 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, one of the most important architects of the nineteenth century. His approach to the interpretation and creation of a neo-gothic architecture based upon an archaeological approach to mediaeval sources was the key influence on the development of Gothic architecture in the Victorian age. This in turn fed Modernist theories of the relationship between the component parts of architecture and functionalist approaches to domestic design, particularly in the Arts and Crafts movement.
The church of Our Lady and St Wilfrid and the adjacent presbytery represent a unique opportunity to study a group of Pugin’s buildings in something near to their original state. The church itself is a total work of art; a rich expression of ritual, archaeology, local material and rich ornament combined to produce a beguiling architectural whole. Adjacent to the church is the presbytery, a severe proto-functionalist house displaying Pugin’s concern for the plan as generator, rejecting superficial stylistic references. Both buildings were designed by Pugin but constructed without his personal supervision. This was typical of Pugin’s relationship with clients and builders, and the method was taken to its extreme when an exact replica of this church was constructed in Australia.
Pevsner considers the construction of this “small but first rate” church to be so significant that it caused “the vigorous field of ecclesiastical architecture (to be) hijacked into True Gothic”… “His little Catholic church at Warwick Bridge is a perfect document of the new attitude, the revival of an ideal English Gothic with religious fervour” and “It is here and more or less precisely in 1841 that archaeological accuracy begins in English church design.”
How can the buildings at the church of Our Lady and St Wilfrid in Warwick Bridge be understood as the original model for a new approach to the understanding of true Gothic principles and a precursor of particular theoretical and practical approaches in Modern architecture.
There are particular opportunities for links with industry through collaboration with Francis Roberts Architects, an architectural practice with a reputation for sympathetic and skilful architectural conservation work. This relationship will aid the student and provide direct access to the parish priest, the parishioners, and expert historians and conservators.
Possible Aims and Objectives
Contribute to the understanding of Pugin as an architect and show how clients and builders remotely interpreted his designs. Compare the results with the original drawings.
Conduct a definitive historical and physical survey of the building. Access and analyse the building in relation to the documentary evidence. This search can use the Benedictine archive at Ampleforth and other sources
Analyse the techniques used in construction and decoration. Contribute to the development of a conservation plan.
Situate the design of the church and the presbytery in its historical context and place it within a contemporary discourse. Acknowledge issues of practical art verses theory
Contribute to the stewardship of these buildings through an understanding of original construction techniques and contemporary methods of conservation and repair.
Review the available literature on Pugin.
Informal enquiries can be made to Sally Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on how to apply: CLICK HERE (then select the ‘Art & Design’ tab)
September 20th, 2011
Over the last forty years the western world has witnessed massive social and economic restructuring. The old heavy industries, upon which our society was constructed, have collapsed. Countries such as the UK and Spain, once the workshops of the world, are now reliant upon the new service and information-technology industries. The urban areas within these countries contain a vast wealth of memory and experience. We need humility in the face of such grandeur of industrial legacy if we are to construct new elements in these neglected areas. Within the cities of the industrial revolution a new form of spatial production is needed to invest the dying urban patterns and decaying fabric with meaning.
Continuity in Architecture will run two projects both in post-industrial cities. 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. We will examine the qualities and character of the places before making design proposals.
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. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next.
(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. Statistics altered and demographic shifts were seen: for instance, the more machines were used in the mills, the more demand there was for women to run them, since machinery did not require as much physical strength, and women could be paid less. But the vile calculus of human misery was unaltered… 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)
August 18th, 2011
This year the Continuity in Architecture students have completed projects in Westminster and Dubrovnik. These were part of what was described as an Argosy of projects as they formed a group with studies in Venice, Antwerp and Manchester.
Of course, an argosy is a large group or fleet of vessels operating together, usually under the same command and organised for a specific tactical purpose. It was a term used by Shakespeare (e.g King Henry VI, Part 3, Act 2, Scene VI; in the Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene III; and in The Taming of the Shrew, Act 2, Scene I), and the word means a flotilla of merchant ships operating together under the same ownership. It is derived from the 16th century city Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), a major shipping power of the day and entered the language through the Italian ragusea, meaning a Ragusan ship. (The word bears no relation to the ship Argo from Greek mythology: Jason and the Argonauts)
RAGUSA: THE PRODIGY OF EUROPEAN HISTORY
“A hard city it remains too, to my mind, when you cross the bay and land upon its quay, beneath its high fortifications. It is very beautiful but hard. It lacks the yield or leniency of Venice. Built of a glittering and impermeable marble, enclosed within superb city walls, tilted slightly with the lie of the land and corrugated everywhere with battlements – tightly packed there within itself it has acquired non of the give-and-take of great age, but seems in a way a perfectly modern place, dogmatically planned and didactically displayed to visitors, like a model town in a trade fair.” Jan Morris- The Venetian Empire
LEARNING FROM SAN CLEMENTE: PROJECT IN LONDON
The Architect’s Journal described Westminster Cathedral as a ‘great religious building which, though clearly rooted in the architectural concerns of the late nineteenth century, has timeless qualities which set it apart from more commonplace works of the age.’
The Cathedral site was originally known as Bulinga Fen and formed part of the marsh around Westminster. It was reclaimed by the Benedictine monks, who were the builders and owners of Westminster Abbey, and subsequently used as a market and fairground. After the reformation the land was used in turn as a maze, a pleasure garden and as a ring for bull-baiting but it remained largely waste ground. In the 17th century a part of the land was sold by the Abbey for the construction of a prison which was demolished and replaced by an enlarged prison complex in 1834. The site was acquired by the Catholic Church in 1884.
Link to further CiA student work: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66428470@N04/
During a time of transition, do not lose faith in architecture
July 5th, 2011
Continuity in Architecture is very pleased that one of their final year students has been awarded the University of Manchester award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. This prize recognises the truly exceptional performance of a graduate student.
Tom Cookson, who has just completed his sixth year, designed a collection of small structures within an intimate area of the city of Dubrovnik. This exactingly designed Repository for Unwanted Memorabilia attaches itself closely to the grain of the city. It integrates a series of interconnected spaces with the three-dimensional character of the dense urban environment. The project was beautifully communicated; Tom used both computer and hand drawings to describe his vision.
Tom, who has recently been asked to interview by a number of architectural practices including the with the 2011 RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner, David Chipperfield, also won the Manchester School of Architecture Student of the Year award.
June 16th, 2011
February 15th, 2011
Staff and students from CiA have just returned from the intensive ADSL week at the university in Antwerp. This annual event is a collection of lectures and workshops by an assortment of international architects and designers assembled together around a common theme. Each unit worked with a group of about 15 internationally mixed students and this year’s theme was: Congruence.
September 6th, 2010
We are looking at four sites for sixth year (Bachelor of Architecture) studio projects:
Option 1: Dubrovnik: We have identified and visited two excellent sites within the old city, the first is an extensive ruin area, the second is an abandoned palace for which we have a full set of survey drawings and full access. Visit to be held in October.
Option 2: The Veneto region, probably Padua, at one of the Architecture/Archaeology Workshop sites to be visited this month.
Option 3: The Westminster Cathedral Competition site. A public space and new building project in London.
Option 4: Antwerp: The fifth year will be looking at this great port city in Belgium (“A patchwork of ancient and modern architecture”) so it is possible for some Year 6 students to join them. Sally Stone will be lecturing and teaching in Antwerp at the end of September. Sites and contacts will be developed from this visit with a view to arranging a student visit in October.
Picture top: Site by the city wall, Dubrovnik. Project site.
Picture below: Detail of the Isusovic Palace, Dubrovnik. Project site.