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Architecture April 2017

Tread Softly

Wolfe Tone Park is situated in the middle of Dublin on the grounds of the Church of St. Mary’s alongside the old Jervis Street Hospital.  Though many pass by and over the space between the de-consecrated Church and an old industrial building few think about what lies beneath.    The abstracted diagonal paving with its sparse planting and scattered remnants of headstones was once and remains a graveyard.

NJBA A+U –  Wolfe Tone Square

An international design competition was held in 1998 to reconfigure the enclosed park of stone walls, iron railings, paths and grassed over graves.  Even then the original headstones had been aligned along the boundaries facing into the space inside.  The original stone walls and railings identified the sacred boundary and provided minimal environmental protection from the wind and traffic noise.

NJBA A+U – Monument to Wolfe Tone

The solutions that found favour with the jury converted the bounded space to an unbounded non space, leaking to the street and the surrounding spaces.  Originally the intention was to bring St. Mary’s into the composition but that remains isolated.

Critically however the issue of the dead remained silent in many of the submissions as the graveyard is purported to hold cholera victims with many laid close to the surface.  Instead of revealing the interred it was considered more sensible to leave them where thy lay and move the remaining stones to the shaded end of the new space, leaving some to be presented along the western flank to wear away underfoot.

Our approach to the Wolfe Tone Square Competition was diametrically opposed to the washing away of this memory.   Instead we sought to honour the dead, and the living.  With the additional request to honour Wolfe Tone we split the honorific aspects of our interpreted programme in two contrasting courts connected with spaces for the living visitor.

NJBA A+U – Memorial to the interred

The overall plan for the Square would also recognise the significant environmental problems that currently exist.  The prevailing winds from the South West and West transverse the nearby buildings before hitting the Jervis Street hospital Building and directed downwards make for an uncomfortable location at best.  Our proposal sought to enhance the previous barrier’s tendency to shelter the space by including a system of screening with Birch Trees in raised platforms to break up the laminar flow of the moving air as well as a mask to the traffic noise on either street.  Coupled with an integrated seating and water system the visitor would be enclosed ion a place of calm reflection necessary in today’s world.  The square would also be capable of being closed at certain times to ensure that the place was preserved as a place of respect rather than a place of entertainment, a temptation that is all too often taken up in urban design schemes.

NJBA A+U – Wolfe Tone Square

As the council authorities seek to address the limitations of the current arrangement there is a plan to convert it back to some sort of grassed surface.  As people, re-inhabit the space, as they sit on the grass, as they lounge on those rare days of summer and lie back on the grass they will not know of those that lie barely a few feet away beneath the ground.

Tread softly.

 

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Architecture November 2016

Air Rights Development

Air Rights 1.0 – York Street

NJBA A+U has been carrying out research into Air Rights projects in Dublin to leverage the potential of under utilised sites in and about the city centre.  Air Rights I for York Street in 2007 was selected for exhibition as part of the AAI’s (Architecture Association of Ireland) 2008 annual awards.   At York Street the proposal examined the under utilised space over the public realm, a street.

NJBA A+U York St Air Rights I

NJBA A+U York St Air Rights I

By exploiting the geometry of the space it showed how the city can be meaningfully stitched back together to create necessary ad desirable urban accommodation.   Addressing the twin concerns of much needed urban housing and by reducing the carbon footprint of the city Air Rights I offers a view towards what is possible.

NJBA A+U York St Air Rights I

NJBA A+U York St Air Rights I

 

Air Rights 2.0 – Baggot Street (Silver Sliver)

While Air Rights I addressed the nature of the public realm, Air Rights II examined the possible intensification of the private realm.

NJBA A+U Baggot Street

NJBA A+U Baggot Street

Silver Sliver is a proposal for a tiny site between two office developments exploiting the under utiilised space left over.   This particular site consisted of an existing single storey concrete framed retail unit with a roof car park overhead.   The site is under utilised apart from the car park with two blind gables looking down on the space in between.  This sliver site can be easily adopted for use as a residential use.

A lack of housing in the city and low density development means that citizens are forced outward to suburbs and dormitory towns, fuelling increase in CO2 emissions and long commutes.  Crippled by inaction and an excess of vacant land and empty buildings there appears to be resistance to exploring other solutions.

NJBA A+U Silver Sliver Baggot Street

NJBA A+U Silver Sliver Baggot Street

A light timber framed CLT system of standardised panels with CLT floors is an ideal material and technology for occupying this space.  By using the flat deck of the concrete roof (suitably reinforced) will allow a bolt on timber solution.  Rising on the back of the concrete structure the new stacked system of full height CLT panels allows the creation of what Corbusier called “Vertical Sites”.  On these “sites” it is possible to provide for a pair of twin 2 bed apartment units.

Rising above the street line a stepped plan and section shows how narrow sites can be occupied with minimal loss of light and air.  With weights of at least ½ that of a comparable concrete superstructure the new design rises effortlessly above the squat 1 storey retail unit.  The Retail unit is to be converted to a foyer for the new facilities providing a café and other communal services.  Above this level is a social “garden” space for use by the residents.  At the roof level of the new structure two additional social spaces are provided for the residents.

 

NJBA A+U Silver Sliver

NJBA A+U Silver Sliver

 

The new structure provides for 25 generous 2-bedroom apartments with natural cross ventilation and an open deck access to the central lift and stair core, for necessary fire protection.  The external skin is to be unfinished aluminium panel rain screen over insulation becoming a beacon in the environment for a new vertical city.  The tall roof elements that cover the social spaces are also ideal for using PV panels to generate some of the energy necessary for the building’s operation.

The system of construction using large numbers of repetitive elements allows for an economical solution and a rapid build.

Air Rights 3.0 

NJBA A+U’s research continues with Air Rights 3.0 which will begin identifying additional sites for examination.

 

Details of contributors….

For details of NJBA A+U’s range of design and research interests see; http://www.12publishers.com/NJBA.htm

Parenthesis Research Limited’s; https://www.facebook.com/ParenthesisDesignResearch/

Music October 2016

Oblique Projection: A new Logo and a new outlook; towards the future.

After a less than satisfactory experience with the original logotype that introduced Oblique Projection a new logo was commissioned from Synthetic Reality (designers).

opus_icon_2013

The original logotype linked the name with the concept did not seem to have that iconic character that could be distinguished from the background noise.  When the “Cycles” (OPus 2.0) album ( https://obliqueprojection.bandcamp.com/)was released earlier this year the logotype was suspended.

Cycles by Oblique Projection

Cycles by Oblique Projection

 

The designers believed that reducing the band name to an acronym logo would make it easier to identify and explain a little more about the band and its music.  Other bands are almost better known by their acronyms OMD, PIL, ELO, etc.  Oblique Projection reduces to OP which can be seen in the catalog numbers for each album (MEC OPus 1.0, Cycles OPus 2.0), also a play on the word opus.  “OP” could be seen as short for Optic related topics.

op-logosoundcloud_2016

 

So “the eyes have it”.  Synthetic Reality launched the new Oblique Projection logo on OP’s facebook page, ( https://www.facebook.com/ObliqueProjection/) with a roll out on other social and web sites in the coming weeks.  The eye logo unites the OP acronym to the idea of image and representation, a new view of the world and the music.

op_tshirt_cycles  op_tshirt_citylights

As part of the roll out is an investigation into merchandise and apparel (T-shirts) which were test launched on the Facebook page above; Cycles T-Shirt & City Lights T-Shirt. Black and White versions are also shown on their facebook page.

 

For a sample of Oblique Projection‘s output, check out their soundcloud page,including a new tester track “There”:

 

Music April 2016

CYCLES – OPus 2.0

Cycles by Oblique Projection

Cycles by Oblique Projection

Cycles has been released on Bandcamp (see https://obliqueprojection.bandcamp.com/)

Over 2 years of working on and off this album of loosely associated pieces.  Originally intended to be titled Moods, Cycles seemed to be a better explanation of the pieces.

The album starts with City Lights, which had a digital release in 2014.

CityLights_sm

The remainder of the album picks up on memories, ideas and thoughts of experience.  City Lights can be streamed on most major digital platforms and it is listed on soundcloud (see https://soundcloud.com/12publishers/city-lights-by-oblique).

This is the second album in a live experiment of music development,  to see where it leads, to capture interests and ideas I have had for years but there never seemed to be time.  Time, I have found, however is elastic.  So pressing the button to finalise the last piece Next Now was a release from worrying if anyone would find this remotely interesting.

The question I had set myself was if Architecture could be considered “frozen music”, could music be considered dynamic Architecture.  The works I had intended have been transformed by the work itself, getting in the way of an idea, manipulating it into something else.  On MEC (our first album) the piece Cloudsea was closest to the objective but Chase was more dynamic, the former inspired by a work of architecture while the later was mapped to a piece of cinema (BULLIT).

For those who have got this far in the blog the remaining may be only of academic interest but it might go someway to explain the inspirations behind the work rather than explain the work itself.

City Lights 5:39

Inspired by the lights in particular around Christmas in the City

Lost in the Rain 3:28

Atmospheric piece drawing on Film Noir cinema

Monday Morning 4:24

This started as Newsday, an introduction to broadcast news

November Walk 3:00

Another atmospheric piece inspired by a walk on a bright, cold and clear day in a wood

Paris to Lyon 2:58

Inspired by a remembered train journey on the TGV from Paris south.

Storm Clouds over Mestre 4:00

Inspired by an electrical storm over Venice

A video was set against a outdoor aerial dance performance (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGZxEHPPUmI)

Experiential 3 5:20

This has a tortuous birth, starting as Moonrave, but morphed into several versions before being stripped down to this.

Next Now 2:18

This is the most stripped down piece, largely a bass and drum track to finalise the album, clearing the ground for the next work.

So where to next?

Cycles was meant to be the third outing for the Oblique Projection vehicle.  Gardens of Kyoto has been in preparation for years now and is probably half complete, 5 of the planned 10 tracks are complete to a point that represents coherency and completeness.  As for time, it may stretch out or be pulled back, I cannot say for certain when, but eventually it will appear.

For the moment, Cycles will follow the Bandcamp presence with a digital release in about 4 weeks on all major platforms.  A physical limited edition CD version may be released later in the year, depending on demand.

To frame a busy, urban and often chaotic life Cycles might provide the soundtrack to your life.

greg

 

Architecture September 2015

World War 1 Memorial Washington DC

583_Scene1

“Try Again, Fail Again, Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

 

This was the submission narrative submitted along with the competition entry.

The scheme strips back Pershing Park to the bone, a clearing among the trees.  The berms and undergrowth are cut back to provide maximum visibility and access from all sides.  At the centre is a new fractured “ground” consisting of granite blocks with tomb like proportions at different elevations.  On this “ground” are 12 marble statues of infantry marching towards the “front” where tall oxidised steel sculpted “trees” represent the loss of nature and destruction.  At the end of this vista is the old “court” which is to be re-purposed as a reconciliations space.

 

And when peace comes to Flanders,

Because it comes too late,

He’ll still lie the, and listen

To the Otterburn in spate –

Wilfred Gibson – Otterburn

583_100_A

General Pershing’s statue has been relocated opposite its current position to face the “front” alongside his flanking men.  While Pershing’s statue is 2 x life size the soldiers are 1.5 x life size.  Completing the composition is the chronology of the war in bronze.  Opposite the timeline is a series of illuminated beacons that display the poetry of the WWI – a reminder of the realities of war.  The space around the new fractured “ground” is to be made level and accessible to all.  It is expected that seating would be provided at the periphery looking inward to the statues.  Lighting is to be provided in the beacons, along the edges and in the joints between the granite of the new “ground” platform, in the vertical markers of the timeline and around the court and the Pershing statue

Dark clouds are smouldering into red

      While down the craters morning burns.

The dying soldier shifts his head

      To watch the glory that returns;

He lifts his fingers toward the skies

      Where holy brightness breaks in flame;

Radiance reflected in his eyes,

      And on his lips a whispered name.

Siegfried Sassoon – How to Die

583_50_B

The main design consisted of

  1. Poetic Beacons – Poetry of the First World War
  2. The fractured ground – a staggered plate of granite to represent both the destruction of the ground, the mechanisation of war (tomb like proportions)
  3. The Marble Statues of the Soldiers at the front (the sleepwalkers)
  4. The “trees” – oxidised steel poles that represent the destruction of nature, echoing iconic images from the Somme and Ypres.
  5. General Pershing’s statue relocated to face the “front” towards the East separated from his men (flanking) in attack towards the end (the old court)
  6. The chronology of major events of the war cast in bronze with vertical markers
  7. The Court of resolution- armistice, the old memorial refurbished and re-purposed

 

Who died on the wires, and hung there, one of two –

Who for his hours of life had chattered through

Infinite lovely chatter of Bucks accent,

Yet face unbroken wires; stepped over, and went,

A noble fool, faithful to his stripes – and ended.

Ivor Gurney – The Silent One

583_Scene7

Having read the brief in some detail and thinking on the epoch changing nature of the war the design was a sparse and poetic reflection on mechanisation, death, pain and memory.  A sparse entry by the standards of the others it was invisible among the bombastic statements of many and it had no gimmicks.  It provided space for reflection and brought to the fore the war poetry that has not been a major feature of other memorials.

What in our lives is burnt

In the fire of this?

The heart’s dear granary?

How much we shall miss?

 

Three lives hath one life –

Iron, honey, gold.

The gold, the honey gone –

Left is the hard and cold.

 

Iron are the loves

Molten right through our youth.

A burnt space through ripe fields,

A fair mouth’s broken tooth.

Isaac Rosenberg – August 1914

583_Scene6

The opportunity to engage in open competition is of benefit to the work in the practice.  The realisation that it will not progress further is of course a disappointment.  Reflecting on this failure I am strengthened by Beckett’s mantra; “try again, fail again, fail better”.

njb  – NJBA A+U

Architecture August 2015

In-dependency

582_Poolbeg_Opt1a

The towers at Poolbeg may no longer be in use and though the ESB has shelved plans for their demolition there remains a gap that requires resolution.  Other proposals, from the fanciful to the practical have been made to which we are adding the obvious.  As both a symbol of a new era in abundant energy from non traditional resources (those other than the burning of coal, gas, oil or nuclear fuels) the ESB could re-purpose the towers to wind power.

582_Poolbeg_Opt2a

While the elements require some strengthening (internal steel lattice) they could be the masts to two elegant windmills.  This would be a potent symbol for an energy independent future right at the gateway to Dublin and Ireland.  Moreover this would be a wonderful opportunity to provide a test bed for newer blade technologies.  Glinting in the sun and riding high on the winds they would be a welcome addition to the  windsurfers on Bull Island at the heart of the designated UNESCO Biosphere.

582_Poolbeg_Opt3a

NJBA A+U

previously posted on linkedin

Architecture March 2015

 Innisfree Architectural Competition Entry by NJBA A+U

View of Portal

View of Portal

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE William Butler Yeats, 1892

 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, 

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Portal (from above)

Portal (from above)

Somewhere between the city and Innisfree the poem exists as a portal to that other life, a life lived simply, a life experienced in innocence at one with the earth, alone. It suggests that the poet dreams of a self sufficient existence, sustained by beans and honey.  This project cannot wholly answer all of this.  In all conscience we cannot truly build a small cabin of clay and wattles.  Instead a portal has been created.  Like the valley temples along the Nile we have prepared a structure to accept the arriving visitor.  As a portal it receives the visitor preparing for their landing as well as being the point from which the visitor leaves.

Structure of Portal

Structure of Portal

We have calculated that this is the most minimal point of interference where you can hear “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.  The structure is a simple timber frame on steel piles.  The roof consists of a suspension system using steel wire and sail cloth (for both weathering and structure).  Beneath this translucent roof an inner cloak of raw linen is draped.  This later element is inspired by the reference to an “evening full of the linnet’s wings”.  The Linnet is so named because of its link to the eating of flax seeds.  The shape of the portal roof is wing like.  Underneath the translucent roof are two boardwalks that take the visitor on and off the island to the waiting boat.  Floating lightly above the waves the whole structure can be easily removed leaving the island untouched. (from original competition report)

Arriving at Innisfree

Arriving at Innisfree

This approach is antithetical to the creation for a folly like architecture for the purposes of the competition.  Instead it sough to get out of the way, providing a portal, a gateway though which the visitor passes form the outside world to that sacred world of the mind on the island to which the poet seeks refuge.

 

Design June 2014

Pylons 

The opportunities that “made to demand” technologies offer multiply by the day.  The myriad of choices available to the market make it difficult to discern a trend or even a design orthodoxy.  In many ways this is the great advantage of the new industrial landscape.

main_91d4040d-1028-4096-a35e-c6000952683b

 

Without the traditional infrastructure of client led inquiry or demand after years of working on the periphery with independent research projects Synthetic Reality is with various partners like FAB all things able to bring products to the market.   Of course this presumes the market really wants these things.

main_8e40dee4-3c99-4d91-a80d-1070a4cb94c6

 

Perhaps the market does not know what it wants until it is produced, make it and they will buy to paraphrase that oft used quote from the Field of Dreams.  Reflecting on the work we have undertaken in the last 4 years dreams have come to the fore.  A type of surrealism or rather surrealist humor appears to find their way into the work.

main_12c72883-306c-48cb-a7ff-1a4bd9cd04e4

 

Even here, the use of an industrialized motif as the framework to art or craft hints at the industrialized origins of most jewelry and echoes the earliest origins of jewelry; bead making, which gave rise to some of the first industrialized practices in the ancient world.  These and other bespoke industrialized products are available from FAB all things

Synthetic Reality’s range of products are;

Pylons Jewelry Tree: http://www.faballthings.com/products/pylons

Chain-mail Phone Case: http://www.faballthings.com/products/chain-mail

Baubles Ear Rings – Nylon : http://www.faballthings.com/products/baubles-earrings-white

Baubles Ear Rings – Steel http://www.faballthings.com/products/baubles-earrings-stainless-steel

Botanic Wall Art: http://www.faballthings.com/products/botanic-gardens

 

 

 

Architecture April 2014

HØYBLOKKA REVISITED

This is NJBA A+U’s contribution to the ‘dugnad’, (a voluntary input for the purposes of debate) organised by Markus Richter of the 0047 Gallery in Oslo.  Tasked with examining the complex, its buildings and spaces the proposal sought to invoke a memory of why the place has been abandoned.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_002_sm

It is hard to look at Høyblokka without thinking of Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Abbey in the Oakwood”.  What had been a vibrant monastery had firstly been dissolved then fell into ruin before been recycled for defensive positions.  In the painting the ruin is shrouded in darkness as mourners arrive to a funeral.  The trees like the ruin are also pruned, their branches amputated.  The melancholy of the painting is a suitable echo of the sad events in Oslo and Utoya.

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The blackened oaks are mirrored in the tall trees standing in front of Høyblokka.  It seems appropriate that two hundred years separate the creation of the painting from the events in Norway.

Utoya-corpses-007_sm

The enduring image of the events in Utoya was the white sheets that covered the victims of the atrocity.  The organic distribution of the sheets along the waterfront produced and enduring almost artistic image of innocence and loss.

H_YBLOKKA 16_A_sm

While deliberations will take time to define the future of Høyblokka this is a proposal to honour the fallen to compliment the proposed memorial on Utoya to loss.  71 internally illuminated crumpled sheets are placed on 71 biers raising them above the pedestrian level.  As frames they take up variations in the landscape creating a cloud like cover to the remaining urban space of the Høyblokka complex.

H_YBLOKKA 15_A_sm

 

0047 will present a wide range of entries in the exhibition Høy­blokka revisited, which opens on March, 27th; a selection of the entries will subsequently be published in Arkitektur N.  The debate should raise important questions about the nature of urban ruins.

 

Music March 2014

CityLights_sm

 

Work has been suspended on “Gardens of Kyoto” in favour of what would have been our third outing.   Bringing forward “Cycles” has facilitated new developments.  Oblique Projection is effectively a solo project with dreams of collaborations in the future.  In the meantime work is concentrated on “Cycles” and “Gardens of Kyoto”.

For “Cycles” the current tracks laid down are;

City Lights 5:39 – single release 22 April 2014

Storm Clouds over Mestre 3:59

Lost in the Rain 03:27

November Walk 02:59

Paris to Lyon 02:58

Another track “Newsday” is under consideration.  The total number of tracks has not been finalised yet.  There is a hope to release late in 2014.    Catch up with OP on Soundcloud, YouTube, iTunes and other media….

greg