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Urbanism February 2020

Cavan Market Square

Between 2018 and early 2019 NJBA A+U provided urban design research and a vision for the much maligned Market Square in Cavan Town, Ireland.  This multi-level design research exercise enfolded the shareholders, the local authority and town team in a process which evolved to make a dramatic intervention in the centre of this old urban centre.

History

The earliest extant record of the town dates from 1591 which identifies two (long demolished) castles, one on the hill overlooking the town and the other set into the fabric of the town next to the Franciscan friary.  Mapping this over the more contemporary fabric it reveals the relationship of the various artifacts to the morphology of the town’s streets.

Market

What remains of the original Victorian Market Square is a pale reflection of its earlier form.  At the centre near what appears to be a well on the 1591 map the old market house was demolished in the 1960’s to make way for a different hub, the general Post office.

Design Challenge

Initial research into the temporary use of the remaining area suggested a different alignment for market stalls that re-affirmed the street condition and cleared a space for people to engage in a truly urban space.  This emphaised the lost opportunity that existed hidden behind the newer fabric, that is the abbeylands, where it is reputed that the body of Owen Roe O’Neill is interred.  Aside from the historical resonance of this space the spatial pattern at the heart of the town is at stake.  With the support of the main stakeholder, the post office, a new idea emerged.

Abbeylands

Re-aligning, re-positioning, re-situating would allow a new connection to the heart of the medieval town that was anchored around the old friary, whose church suffered at least three catastrophic fires.  It remains an empty unloved and oft forgotten void.  By identifying the key boundaries of the centre; between Town hall Street, Main Street, Bridge Street and Abbey Street, the centre can be re-invigorated, and re-connected to its place.

The relationship between church and market space can once again be reunited.  A new branded scheme clarifying the core can become the anchor for a new identity for historic Cavan.

Urbanism

Engaging local stakeholders required a multi-disciplinary approach to communicating ideas and engaging interest.  Combining, drawings, plans, sketches, computer and physical models helped convey the reality of the proposal, eliciting generous, welcome and critical comments.

Simulating before and after proposals were the most effective, especially those that portrayed the reality of the impacts through photo-montages, that reflected what viewers were already familiar.

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Simulation

Simulating or imagining the use of the space was even more effective in convincing the audience of the substantial benefits accruing from the dramatic changes.  The new vision offered a 400% increase in usable public space at the heart of the town, capable of holding exhibition sports events (Tennis / Basketball), small concerts and a more substantial civic space.

Design 

Emptying the space is not sufficient in itself.  Instead a framework that reinforced the street condition of Main Street, provides the infrastructure for temporary accommodation when and if markets are required.  This disciplines the often random nature of such events without compromising the operation or enjoyment of the space.

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Next Steps

Currently the Abbeylands are subject of a new urban masterplan which suggests that significant changes will emerge for this effort and finally the town will be rewarded with a market square that holds the heart of the town in the centre.

njba a+u was commissioned by the Cavan Town Team to provide a vision in conjunction with he key stakeholders surrounding the space.

Architecture May 2019

A Bridge to Remembering

“The bridge gathers to itself in its own way earth and sky, divinities and mortals.”

Martin Heidegger Building, Dwelling Thinking

Introduction

Competition Entry Report for Commemorative Bridge at the Irish War Memorial Islandbridge, Dublin

Gathering

Making a bridge provides the opportunity to gather the world, unifying the heaven and earth, the past and future.  It gathers up the earth, the banks and the river into a single thing.  In this location the bridge must prepare the visitor for the journey across the river to the memorial gardens.  This design brings together ideas about pilgrimage, memory and order.

Arrival

According to (Camillo) Sitte, the urban space before the church should be narrow and long, an extension of the processional route.  Here to shelter and enfold the visitor the prepared space is surrounded by stone walls that carry the engraved words of the war poets; a testament to the loss of innocence.  Water flows along each side and echo off the curved entablature to further calm the pilgrim.


Sound & Poetry

The courtyard provides a tranquil and isolated space in the busy city for the visitor to slow down.  This transition is a necessary purification process that prepares the visitor for the journey to the memorial garden.  The screening walls are formed to deflect and contain the sound of flowing water.  The concrete elements can be precast allowing their placement with minimal disturbance on the existing ground.  Openings to the rear allow the sound of birds and the wind in the trees of the nature sanctuary to percolate into the space.

Anchoring & Threshold

The bridge element is anchored to each bank with an entrance portico, a threshold that signals the crossing.  These embankment elements resolve the unique topography on both sides of the river, allowing for full universal access.  A hydraulic lift and staircase are provided inside the buttress element.  This strategy provides for a flat arrival court at +5.0 M and a flat bridge deck at +7.1 M.  This approach allows for 2.1 M clearance beneath the arch over the river as well allowing the river path on the southern shore to be uninterrupted.  These weighty anchors provide the necessary restraint for the bridge (see structural description below).  The northern portico element is also marked by a bell tower.  It is proposed that a bronze bell be commissioned as the percentage art project.

The Divided Path

In the medieval world the visitors to the great cathedrals were directed (under the eyes of Christ) to enter by one door and once their pilgrimage was satisfied, exited by the other.  These double doors are divided by the pillar that supports a Vesica Piscis above.  The porticos provide a similar choice.  The vaulted gateways are illuminated from above.  The allusions to both the Medieval Cathedral and Lutyens’ war graves motifs are not accidental.  The vaulted gateways frame the space and provide a sense of scale while providing clues to distance.



Material Character

The materials are driven by topography.  Concrete provide the material of abutment and bridge, brick the middle ground, while stone completes the entablature, extending to the structure of the bell tower.  Concrete provides defence against the vagaries of rising and falling water, marking the plimsoll line of the structure.  Brick provides tactile warmth.  The hard wearing surfaces are paved in stone, slabs over the courtyard and the bridge deck. Stone cobbles mark the crossing from one realm to another and completes the structures by capping the porticos and faces the courtyard walls.

Structure

The proposed bridge spans 45 metres from two concrete platforms.  To minimise the impact of the bridge on the environs the design carves out a narrow zone of impact.  The first stage is the sinking of piles and caps upon which the abutments will be constructed. The walls of the stair cores create a rigid box to connect the bridge.  The abutment foundation is anchored to the pile caps and in turn provides the landing point for the bridge’s arched soffit and flat parapet.

Sequence

The bridge can be erected simultaneously from both embankments using cranes located on the abutment foundations.  These lift the bridge segments into place. The first three segments are connected by joining steel cable strands together and tensioning them. The last segments can be connected using post-tension strands on-site and then lifting in place, with the final “keystone” dropped into place locking the structure together.

The bridge design balances nearly all of the self-weight of the bridge.  The tendons are located near the bottom of the cross section at mid-span, near the top of the section where bridge meets abutment, and then somewhere near the centre of the cross section at the far end of abutment or end of bridge.  Post-tensioning the tendons will pre-compress the concrete in the region of the cross section where there is tension due to bending under applied load.  Additional pre-stressing to ensure compression throughout the depth of section in the unoccupied bridge is used so that tension stress is never greater than the pre-compression.  This provides good deflection performance and long term durability.  The bridge will be built using C50/60 concrete and 15mm 7-wire post-tension strands.  At the base of the bridge we need 10×22 strands on each side and at middle 8×22 strands in total.  Additional 2-wire crossing strands, perpendicular to the main strands, will be placed 1m c/c.

Environment – Construction

The construction of the bridge relies less on disturbing and more on placement.  Aside from the piles and caps there is little disturbance envisaged for any part of the construction.  No significant excavation is envisaged for any construction with new surfaces established above or at the existing grade levels.  The arrival court is formed using cut and fill to accommodate the new levels at or near the existing grade level of the roadway.  The southern portico is accessed by a simple path, land graded either side to minimise its physical impact.

Environment – Post Construction

The post construction environment is similar to that prior to the introduction of the bridge, the mature trees (with one or two exceptions) are maintained and a nature enclave is protected (encouraged even) to the eastern side of the arrival court.  The existing river line and footpath are maintained.   The extent of the impact remains a narrow strip with limited impact outside of this zone.   Access to the bridge is facilitated using stairs, ramps and elevators.  It can be isolated or secured by decorative gates if required.


Marking Time

Marked by the sound of a bell, the sound of water, the mark of words, the echoes of people and place, this project had the ambition to enfold space and time with sound, light and words to guide and effect a change in the visitor.

 

Credits copyright reserved by authors

Design & Concept NJBA A+U; Noel Brady

Design & Engineering Bakkala Consulting Engineers; Chris Bakala, Erik Altmäe

Cost Analysis KMCS; Nigel Spence, Anthony Devane

Architecture July 2018

Dolphin’s Barn Urban Space

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NJBA A+U plan of intervention 

On the cusp of the new millennium NJBA A+U were part of a new urban space initiative championed by Jim Barrett City Architect at Dublin City Council.  Several under-utilised and under-valued spaces across the city were identified as part of the strategy.  Taking advice, suggestions and direction from the city architects and transport departments the task was to find a suitable model for urban renewal.  Concerns regarding the use of these spaces were paramount.

NJBA A+U Model Study 

Where social activities were positive they should be enhanced and where those activities were anti-social, proposals had to alleviate or deter.  Supporting mechanisms such as active public frontage and housing were important components of any solution.  In addition, where suitable, existing traffic use, including parking, could be maintained if it supported activity.

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NJBA A+U – Section through main junction

In this proposal, shared spaces were a key strategy to ensure valuable public activity, especially in font of the church.  Commercial uses along the edge of the spaces are re-enlivened with robust hard landscaped space augmented with trees and public lighting.  Where viable, residential uses above shops support passive surveillance.  A new mixed use building on the edge of the main public space provides financial subvention for the public realm works.

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NJBA A+U – Main space in front of church with mixed use supporting building

The existing condition also suffers from access problems.  The crossing is difficult due to its unique geometry, topographical variation and traffic levels.  Safety was a priority from a traffic management perspective.  This scheme proposed both shared spaces for the low density areas alongside public functions in front of the shops and the church. For the main crossings more direct connections were proposed and the usual pedestrian barriers removed to facilitate easier movement of pedestrians.  This would necessitate a pedestrian prioritised lighting sequence.

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NJBA A+U – Study of new urban space and supporting mixed use building

Regretfully this scheme was not progressed.  It remains only in sketch form a potential solution.

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.

 

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 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.

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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

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“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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.