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ARCHITECTURE

CHRISTOPHER McCURTIN

.PORTFOLIO

PORTFOLIO

BA/BARCH.


Section

2

3

Section

Section

PROJECT.

PROJECT.

PROJECT.

(re)Wiring Nature

Entropic Strataveri

the Market Microcosm

YEAR.

YEAR.

YEAR.

2010

2011

2010

THEMES.

THEMES.

THEMES.

*Sustainability *the Boundary

*Sustainability *Technology

*Heterogeneity

*Re-use

*Time

*Transition

i

*Psychogeography

BRIEFING

.Question

1


5

Section

Section

PROJECT.

PROJECT.

PROJECT.

the Blurred Boundary

Tao & Chora

the Egg Concept

YEAR.

YEAR.

YEAR.

2009

2009

2005

THEMES.

THEMES.

THEMES.

*Heterogeneity

*Technology

*Boundaries

*Phenomenology *Transition

*Transition

*Spirituality

*Virtual Reality

Section Common

6

Civil

ii

*Heterogeneity

.Question

PROGRAM

4


*Proposed sites & landscape shifts

(Thames shore on right)

The project emerged from the remains of a decaying landscape; one robbed of its life, beauty and nutrients: The site of Tilbury, along the Thames Estuary in Essex, which is home to both a decommissioning coal power station and Europe’s largest landfill.

The presence of these occupants has left the land contaminated; the proposed scheme aimed at reversing this, using the (once) pollutants that created the damage, to re-capitulate the landscape in a new way, harnessed via several architectural interventions and systems. 1

WIRING

*Existing sites & access

(re)

.Explore

{ re } Wiring Nature.


{re}Wiring Nature.

NATURE

By addressing the current ‘waste’ products produced in the region (Fly Ash, Solid Waste, Landfill Run-off ) a series of stages were created, that would use each element in a positive way, enabling the area to become a self-contained ecosystem once again. In order to maintain the proposed, concept of ‘positive pollution’, each use of a current ‘waste’ product would be used in a way that would not harm any existing eco-systems; only cultivate their growth, as well as encourage other, newer species.

*Redevelopment of WWII guard posts, converting them into self contained CO2 reactors. *Reverse engineering of both the power station and landfill, creating a treatment plant and methane farm respectively. *Creation of a new algae farm/laboratory. 2

Explore

Over the course of 25 years (and in keeping with existing council and decommissioning plans), several architectural sub-schemes would be developed across the 20+ mile site, slowly combining into one, overall, complimentary system. These sub-systems included:


WIRING

All methods suggested and projected were thoroughly researched and tested where possible, using the natural processes to inform the design as much as possible. Within this, several system models were created, including ground reading ‘Quorum’ sensors (named due to their mimicry of algae communication methods {pictured}), which could transmit environmental data ‘clouds’ to each individual site. A strain of the proposed bioluminescent algae to be used (Pyrocystis Lunula) was also acquired and cultivated in order to learn from it’s behaviour and environmental effects. A test CO2 filtration system was also created (pictured) in order to derive a thorough construction and containment procedure. The creation of these architectural devices eventually informed the design of the key intervention; the algae laboratory. The form of the building was based upon the

(re)

.Explore

{ re } Wiring Nature.

‘travelling’ shape of a Pyrocystis Lunula cell; the reactive roof structure system was also inspired by the aforementioned quorum communication technique.

3


*3-Dimensional ‘Design Form’ section

4

Explore

NATURE

{re}Wiring Nature.


{re}Wiring Nature. *Diagrammatic Floor Plan

The layout and structure of the building allows for both sterile and contaminated

+CONTROL

+ALGAE CULTURE STORE

+EXHIBITION LABORATORY

+MAIN LABORATORY

+TEACHING LABORATORY +CLASSROOM

+LOBBY +ACCESS

+ENTRANCE LOBBY

VOID

VOID

*Early ‘form concept’ visualisation

The foundation system for the main building is also constructed in order to adapt to the changing tides. The two-part foundation pile is able to rise and fall according to water pressure from below.

.Explore

+SEMINAR ROOM

+VIEWING GALLERY

(re)

The roof structure is a cellular system that automatically adapts and deflects the additional live loading caused by people walking upon the structure. Constructed from hexagonal ETFE panels and filled with a water-based gel, each panel also houses twenty (100mm diameter) iron bearings, which are controlled by electromagnets placed within each frame ‘node’. By shifting the bearings within each panel, the roof can constantly manipulate its form and counter forces ‘on the fly’.

+LOBBY

WIRING

+WATER TESTING

areas, whereby the algae can be cultivated and then slowly released into carefully protected areas of the Thames. Both it’s foundation and roof systems are designed to adapt to the changing conditions of their surrounding environment.

5


{re}Wiring Nature.

*Section depicting building ‘interaction’ and ‘adaptation’ 6

Explore

NATURE

*Selected detailing


WIRING

*Projected visualisation exploring ‘roof ecosystem’ possibilities.

As the algae cultures reached maturity and spread out into the Thames ‘pools’, they would also be allowed to grow out onto the building shell, spreading nutrients and minerals as their cells broke down.

Walking upon the structure would be openly encouraged, promoting the cross-pollination of various natural species upon the building’s exterior, gradually creating it’s own individual ecosystem. 7

(re)

Explore

{re}Wiring Nature.


NATURE

{re}Wiring Nature.

*The algal culture would be allowed to gradually migrate further down the estuary in controlled phases, acting as a natural, early warning system for the marsh re-capitulation programme.

8

Explore

*Projected visualisation circa 20 years after scheme completion.


Entropic Strata{veri}. *Stradiveri:

*Entropic energy flow diagram

ENTROPIC

‘A superlative often associated with a skilled craftsman’

*Strata: ‘A layer or series of layers of rock within the ground’ The project explores the modern relationship between architecture and technology; it’s role as mitigator between the natural and synthetic worlds, and the question of inherited responsibilities towards sustainability and design.

.Experiment

Exploring the notion of entropy via natural decay, the project set out to create an intervention that could return a level of control within organic ‘entropic’ systems, whilst allowing the creation of new, hybrid systems that could redefine existing terminologies and standards within architecture. The core of the program lay in the creation of ‘spatial technologies’ that could both read and react to the surrounding environment, sculpting space in tandem with nature.

*Detailed section through Icarus Column (Loom incarnation) 9

*Haptic Furnace


*Detailed section through Oblique Column

Based upon the technological theory behind the Stradivarius violin, the system of spatial ‘column’ workshops tune themselves into their surroundings over time, recording and learning via the combined input of natural forces and human interaction. The site for the intervening systems was Penmon in Anglesey, more specifically, against a collapsing limestone and shale cliff face which is slowly succumbing to the force of several crossing sea currents.

*Stage 1

The spatial devices were designed to work in several stages and incarnations, so that they could easily be adapted and repaired due to their difficult location. Visitors would be encouraged to interact with the devices, inadvertently tuning them further to the cliff ’s the structural integrity, as well as forging new, more precise components for the machines, altering the outcome of their surroundings in the process.

*Stage 2

Experiment

STRATAVERI

Entropic Strata{veri}.

Each device would also participate in the collection, dissemination and ‘alchemic reconstruction’ of the flotsam and jetsam found within surrounding site, gradually re-sculpting them into new forms.

*Projected future form

10


*Detailed plan of Oblique Column depicting movement

The oblique column was designed as a structural core that could both shelter and create for its inhabitants. The idea that an architecture could learn to repair itself and evolve in a similar way to natural systems, was key to the concept.

The column workshops open and close according to tidal times, collecting salt water, feathers and sand, which are broken down within the haptic furnaces and used to prepare the cliff face for repair and reconstruction. 11

ENTROPIC

.Experiment

Entropic Strata{veri}.


The new face of the cliff is controlled by the lens column (and interpreted by the 3D Printer), which directs the reapplication of lime to the cliff (formed from fallen rocks and fired in the haptic furnaces). The movement and force of the tides, mixed with human interaction, dictates the path and form of the new cliff face. This information is processed via a form of labanotation, a system usually used to describe the position and weight placement of ballet dancers. This symbolbased language allows the translation of both structure and form simultaneously. Each application is recorded, building a collective memory for the devices, allowing them to effectively learn from their surroundings.

*Detailed plan of Icarus Column (Lens Workshop)

As the structures evolve and continue to construct their surroundings, the aim is for the devices to become more efficient, more precise, as well as break and rust. This would create a system that self informs, generating new architectures that are neither natural, nor man-made; hybrid spaces, that blur the line between man, machine and nature, creating a wet architectural technology model that works both with and for nature, giving back more than it eventually takes. 12

Experiment

STRATAVERI

Entropic Strata{veri}.


*Short section depicting

ENTROPIC

.Experiment

Entropic Strata{veri}.

‘Stage 1’ assembly structure

13


*Projected visualisation depicting ‘Stage 3’ cliff reconstruction.

14

.Experiment

STRATAVERI

Entropic Strata{veri}.


MARKET

The Market Microcosm was a short research-based project into the current situation of community housing within the town of Tilbury, Essex. The town has a long history of immigration and is still the point of entry for many asylum seekers each year. At present, many asylum seekers are simply placed into any available accommodation as soon as possible, most of which consist of 1940’s constructed houses on an estate that Thurrock council refer to as having ‘low standards of living’. The aim of the project was to address this situation in a new way, one that could touch upon both the condition of the houses and the neighbourhood, whilst creating a more welcome environment for its new inhabitants. In order to do this, the design work was constructed within the tight boundaries of the council’s own budget and design practice guidelines, which allowed a total budget of £25,000 per house.

THE

.Exchange

Market Microcosm.

15


MICROCOSM

Market Microcosm.

Drawings and statistics for the existing and newly council-renovated properties were analysed in order to explore the quality of space, as well as the effect upon the surrounding neighbourhood. The research showed that each house was subject to only the smallest of changes, with the installation of new boilers and kitchen appliances, with most of the budget being spent on costly redecorations and needless replacements (due to items expiring from a guideline-set time period).

16

Exchange

The proposed redesign explored the creation of more heterogenous space, often the point of most social interaction, whilst maintaining important personal spaces within the property. Lighting standards and thermal performance were also greatly improved to create open, welcoming spaces that were far more adaptable to an inhabitant/s individual requirements.


MARKET

*2D & 3D Section Drawings exploring spatial quality and construction method.

THE

.Exchange

Market Microcosm.

17


MICROCOSM

Market Microcosm. All of the proposed building changes were achieved just

18

.Exchange

*Proposed ‘Market Space’ and spatial diagrams.

under budget and so an additional proposal was created that could impact the greater community. The pre-established notion of flexible space was adapted to the garden areas of each house (which backed onto unused passageways) by the creation of moveable fencing, that could open up, trebling the usable space between houses. The proposed use for this adaptable space was that of a community market, one that could allow inhabitants a degree of control in how much they chose to interact. Such an initiative was also suited to asylum-seeking tenants, who are not allowed to work during their application, yet are able to trade crafts and skills on a small scale. The scheme would allow the community to reclaim their neighbourhood and create a new social space.


The piece studied the act of ‘squatting’ and how it was possible to traverse the boundary between legality and illegality; how livable space could be created and/or destroyed based upon the interpretation of a legal ‘grey area’. Common

Research was carried out by studying the conditions of a ‘live’ squat in Nottingham, named “Squat Lobster”. In conjunction with legal studies, a series of diagrammatic drawings were created that would allow others to clarify their legal habitation rights and therefore create new livable spaces.

Civil

BLURRED

The blurred boundary is a short research project which examines the fluctuating existence of habitable space and the conditions that are required in order to make this exist within modern societal boundaries

THE

.Encounter

Blurred Boundary.

19


*illegal access ‘Trespassing’ The style of the drawings was influenced by the illustrative, cartoon-like safety manuals used by air travel companies; rarely touching on the danger or legality of any potential situation or outcome.

In order to add additional credibility to the project and it’s potential to create new architectural scenarios, I opted to test the research by performing a ‘live’ squat of my own in Nottingham, where I was able to gain full access to a vacant property without incurring any legal ramifications (pictured).

Personally, I feel that it is the duty of the architect to explore the definitions of that which he/she designs, and the conditions, laws and limits that create them as such. Only then, will we design that which will work, that which is needed or that which will redefine. *Legal access ‘Squatting’ 20

.Encounter

BOUNDARY

Blurred Boundary.


.Experience

Toa & Chora.

TAO &

This project was a short competition entry created alongside my first year BArch studies. The brief requested a space of veneration, situated upon the edge of a lake within Nottingham. The concept was born from a personal interest in religious theology and philosophy, merging a series of Eastern and Western belief principles. The buildings design is forged around the metaphorical ‘path’ of life, and the symbolic nature of light and dark. The metaphor of the pathway or tunnel, dark in it’s immediacy, yet burning with a bright light visible in the distance, is a common one in all aspects of both religious thought and philosophy. The design aimed to recreate this experience within a short passage of space, creating a transitional architecture, immersing people within the darkness, only to release them into a cleansing light.

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The concept capitalised upon the

TAO

ROAD, CHANNEL, PATH, WAY, DOCTRINE, LINE

variety of lighting and terrain within the site, to create transitions from bleak secluded viewpoints, to open bright spaces of potential beauty. Key viewpoints that leant themselves to metaphor and religious narrative (i.e. stepping stones across the lake) were focused upon to further hone the space towards the potential occupying thoughts of the visitors/inhabitants. The building also focused heavily on phenomenological elements, harnessing the thermal mass effects of both steel and stone, allowing gradual changes in pressure and humidity (as well as colour) as a person descended into the site, and ultimately emerged at the mouth of the lake. Although basic, the brief is one that I often consider re-imagining, as it encapsulated much of the human (and architectural) condition that continues to fascinate me.

22

.Experience

CHORA

Tao & Chora.


.Experience

Egg Concept. *Winner of Luminar Leisure’s ‘EGG Concept Nightclub Competition’.

EGG

The EGG Concept was created as a partnership between Luminar Leisure and several Midlands-based universities. The brief for the project requested the creation of a new form of nightlife experience, based upon Luminar’s current market share and existing brands. The proposal was required to have a base in technology and the visual sense, creating (where possible) a flexible and exciting alternative to the existing experience.

THE

A range of projection and lighting technologies where employed within the eventual design, including a (then) prototypical form of ‘glasses-free’, curved 3D video screen.

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Egg Concept. The entrance featured a ‘seemingly’ kinetic floor (constructed from Ledion panels) which were configured

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.Experience

CONCEPT

to draw people into the club; it’s walls were paired with ‘TransScreen’ glass, which back-projected live images from inside the club. The main club walls were lined with D-Station projectors, capable of (then) showing up to 24 different feeds per screen, as well as the ability to seamlessly link multiple units showing a single feed. The core of the design lay in central dance floor space, which offered a truly unique experience created by state of the art 3D. The competition’s prize featured a meeting with Ministry of Sound design staff regarding the potential ways to replicate such effects within a new design project in Shanghai.


PROJECTIONS

#Enhance

Projections.

*Icarus (Unfinished)

Projections is the continuos research which drives my architectural work, and often deals with emerging or speculative scenarios and/or landscapes. In recent years, the work has predominantly focused on the re-imagining of mythical themes such as alchemy, immortality and God-like figures. { A p p. }

Recent pieces use these themes as both narrative and metaphor, allowing unrecognisable scenarios (such as wet technologies) to be confronted and visualised in a more symbolic way, bringing to life that which does not yet know existence/form in a manner that can read/understood spatially.

C.McCurtin - Selected BA/Barch Portfolio  

A selection of work taken from my BA/BArch portfolios.

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