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…Beyond a Wall (Sandy Row’s Community Drop-in Centre)

Part 1 Project 2011
Megan White
Queen's University Belfast | UK
‘A wall’ a physical and mental divide that separated my site, part of a prominent business park, from the residents of the deprived inner community, of Sandy Row Belfast. This 3.5m wall exposed the community’s abundant textural and materialistic history, but also the social behaviour and attitudes of the two communities present in the area. The business park brought a wealth and education to Sandy Row, which unfortunately is not shared with the vast neighbouring community. Consequently causing Sandy Row’s Britannic Drive wall to serve as design inspiration, provoking my architectural intention to create a scheme that would bridge the two communities, enabling interaction through the wall and therefore the exchange of ideas and skills.

My proposal consisted of a ‘Community and Youth Drop-in Centre’, a space outside the home and school where, predominantly the youth population of Sandy Row could take ownership of and provide a space that allowed communication and integration between different age and social groups within the immediate community and its surrounding context. The design consists of three interlinking pavilions - a sports/ conference hall, crèche and teenage drop-in. Each space has a unique function, focus group and scale, therefore it was my intention to create an underlying sense of atmospheric hierarchy that reflected the building’ functional properties.

Maintaining the wall and the datum it provided for the site was of utmost importance. My aim was to remove part of the existing wall to create an opening from the residential community to the business park, subsequently enabling the crèche to be built in line with the existing wall, while creating rebellious entrance to an underground teenage den, working with the natural site contours. The new crèche’s structure was set behind allowing a delicate lightweight glass box to float along the surface of the wall to maintain the wall’s datum. A reverse to the sunken sports hall design which appears at ground level as a robust heavy mass floating on glass. The movement between zones, created a sequential spatial sequence that allows the user to experience the interdependent relationship between materiality, structure and atmospheric space.

Megan White


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