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Inner City Residential Drugs Treatment Centre, Stonehouse, Plymouth

Part 2 Project 2000
Andrew Dale
University of Plymouth | UK
My Diploma dissertation was written on the subject of surface modulation and minimalism and in choosing an Inner City Residential Drugs Treatment Centre as a final year project I endeavoured to underpin my work with concerns about space and surface treatment. To this end a highly dense and variable design solution emerged that would appear to reflect an innate sympathy with the Arts and Crafts Movement.

John Seargent, my external examiner, recommended that I ponder how to learn 'to let a wall be a wall', a comment that seemed a highly appropriate point of departure for my post-Part II life. It left me wondering how far my project represented my approach, given its attempt to display a designed response to my dissertation interests.

I do enjoy letting a wall be a wall, John. Especially when there is obvious benefit in doing so. But I remain fascinated by the tendancy in contemporary architectural culture to reduce things, the meaning of this, and its consequences as an act building.

After all, Minimalism (capital 'M') is on one level merely the elegant expression of a basic economic behaviour which characterises the past 200 odd years. When most of the built environment is already an existing structure with age and a history, indiscriminate use of minimalism (in the general sense of reducing things to a minimum) abstracts experiences into a geometric void at the cost of the myriad subtle living qualities of architectural and urban space.

My final project doesn't define my approach as much as reveal my central interests in my own architecture, which I look forward now to resolving over a life's work.

Andrew Dale


This Rehabilitation Centre for drug users but also to rehabilitate a run-down and socially deprived part of Plymouth. A rather splendid but long neglected Arts and Crafts vicarage designed by J. D. Sedding at the end of the 19th century, is reoccupied as the reception wing of the scheme. The church hall in the centre of the site is re-used as a refectory and gym, leaving the lower end of the site, formerly occupied by James Hine's All Saint's church, for the new residential block and lounge. A suite of therapy rooms and library on the west side of the site complete the irregular courtyard which serves as the first significant threshold within the scheme. A series of further thresholds sets up a specterum of occupational levels ranging from the fully public to the totally private.

Gil Hird, a student from the Plymouth College of Art & Design worked alongside Andrew throughout the latter half of the project. Between them they evolved a number of crafted details, e.g. column head, door handles, stair and newel post, which sought to reinterpret the Arts and Crafts architecture of Sedding within a 21st century idiom.

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