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Dead Space Design

Part 2 Project 2008
Chris Bartlett
Gavin Gray
Paul Taylor
University of Portsmouth | UK
Dead Space Design is an architectural movement aimed at architects and masterplanners that rejects convention and introduces a novel way of looking at potential sites for development, by identifying and developing the dead spaces within the section.

Masterplanning is an exercise that is traditionally carried out in plan form, as it is the simplest and most accessible diagrammatic way of explaining a site. Plan drawings by nature don't always communicate a sites particular qualities and often the power of a dramatic terrain is lost in the 'flatness' exhibited by a plan. Encouraging an exploration into sites that lie within a unique section can encourage a new way of masterplanning that incorporates both plan and section. Sectional drawings help to identify dead spaces between buildings and the landscape that can be developed, whilst retaining all the existing structures. Dead spaces are areas that are not fulfilling their potential or simply areas of under/partially developed structures. Rather than demolishing vast areas and placing notional blocks of colour representing hypothetical structures we opted for a most sensitive and sustainable solution for linking the places and improving the existing.

We produced a manifesto that outlined our ideas in a format that could be given to another person and applied to similar sites such as Rio de Janeiro or Kowloon as a future test for our thesis idea. The manifesto explained the process of identifying dead spaces and the three sectional design typologies (Emersed, Inserted and Suspended) that should be adhered to in order to develop an area. We also devised a scoring system that should be applied to the masterplan as a whole and individual buildings/spaces as a way of testing the thesis.

We used our manifesto to create a masterplan, several conceptual ideas that utilised the typologies and three final schemes using one typology each. We put all our work onto one 14m long 1:1000 model in our school atrium that included an accurate model of the three towns, the contours and the new instances. The models frame was used to display work on both upright boards and closable drawers.

Chris Bartlett
Gavin Gray
Paul Taylor

Our Studio identity is focused on the study of Architecture and Landscape. We investigate the premise that buildings and the territory in which they sit, are an entity. That is to say, the space around buildings is as important as the space within them. Students who elect to study in our studio investigate examples of architecture where this ideal is manifested and then through a number of exercises allow their investigations to inform their own design work.

In the final year of the Diploma, although students are allowed considerable licence in their choice of thesis project, we nevertheless exercise a degree of constraint. We provide an underlying theme connected with a landscape location with which the students are required to connect.

Last year we visited the Amalfi coastal region in Italy. We studied the way in which this landscape had changed, or not, overtime and what had influenced this. We looked at how the memory of this change could become a catalyst for the future.

Paul, Chris and Gavin decided that working with a conventional plot would not allow enough reflection on the memories that this landscape held. To them it was all about the section. Their ambitious project linked coast to coast across the peninsula. They developed a set of rules to deal with all buildings within their conceptual field. The rules encompassed categorisation and proposal. This entailed a challenging and stringent timetable of work. During our short visit to Amalfi they set about surveying and categorising all buildings in their strip section. On return, they set about building their large model section. This acted as a tool for developing ideas as well as being the vehicle for their whole presentation. Finally they chose examples of buildings within their section with which to make architectural propositions.

We were impressed with their clearly defined strategy, their intelligent thesis proposition and the presentation of their proposals, their ability to express complexity through clarity. We were particularly impressed with how they developed their ideas within the ethos of the Studio. The energy and enthusiasm they exuded throughout was unfailing.

Ms Kate Baker
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