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The Invisible Castle

Part 1 Project 2020
Henri Kopra
University of Nottingham | UK
This project considers the radical refurbishment and remodelling of the Victoria Flats in central Nottingham: a substantial high-rise completed in the early 1970s, now reaching the end of its original lifespan. Its title – The Invisible Castle – reflects the irony that, despite being Nottingham’s tallest building, it is its most unknowable. Unseen from most street level vantage points, the 1200 residents remain anonymous behind the mirrored-glass monolith.

The flats were conceived at a time of shifting architectural paradigms. The proposal thus employs an updated modernist grille at all scales from city to doorknob, with attention to social and environmental concerns. The aim is not to fetishise post-war high-rise, but to draw attention to the fact that it forms a key part of our existing (deteriorating) housing stock, with tonnes of embodied carbon.

Embracing the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, the scheme upgrades the fabric and integrates renewable energy generation. Homes are remodelled within the existing structural system to provide dual aspect living, spatial interest, private outdoor space, and scope for a more varied demographic. Circulation is re-ordered to embed street-level neighbourliness into the scheme, according to Dunbar's 150 'meaningful contacts' optimum. A publicly accessible rooftop park reconnects the residents to the city.

Henri Kopra


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