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marta zembinskyte academic portfolio RIBA Part I BA (Hons) Architectural Design University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2010-2013.



CONTENT 1 testing ground Institute for Transformation






Labyrinth Gallery

Design with Nature



5 principles and theories of architecture


6 post scriptum


Vertical Park


Post-project ideas




TESTING GROUND The project consisted of four parts: Test Subject, Test Landing, Test Institute and Technical Study. Test Subject: We had to construct an apparatus that would enhance, disrupt or otherwise bring attention to a specific sensory experience. The apparatus was meant to test and the testing had to be recorded in a way that would demonstrate how it impacts upon body’s relationship with its surroundings. Test Landing: This process had to include translation of the original apparatus onto site in former Steetley Magnesite Works area, Hartlepool and focus of the test into something which could be applied on a large scale. Test Institute: The focus of the ‘Test Institute’ phase was to design and program a research institute that is built for the testing being applied to the site. This institute had to have a number of common architectural programs, such accommodation, lecture halls, and such. However, there had to be additional programs developed that suited the nature of what was being tested. Technical Study: It was required to research and undertake a technical study of a part of the design.

PROGRAMME The research institute is developed to recycle disused vehicles and test their speed which was followed by destruction and re-assemble of the vehicle. The test happens by accelerating the prototype on the test track. The vehicle can be picked up from the track into one of the laboratory towers for repair or further development. Finally the car gets crashed into the wall at the end of the track, and re-assembly into a new prototype. The essential part of the institute is the laboratory towers which are self-contained units, consisting of laboratories, library, a reading room, café and toilets. The laboratory units form a larger system which is a visual guide: the structure stretches throughout the site from a garage where the test begins and gets gradually more intense towards the end wall where the car destruction happens.







TEST SUBJECT: SANDSCRAPER After series of experimentations I have developed two objects: a Sandscraper - made by deconstructing an umbrella into a drafting tool, and a Circle Machine - made by deconstructing a bicycle into a compass. Both devices produced unique drawings in sand which were converted into digital media and moved to the next design stage.




Masterplan: derived from mapping of the site by using sand diagrams. 12

TEST LANDING With the series of diagrams produced (previous page) I mapped elements on the site such as railroad, bridges and piers, and no longer existing silos of Steetley Magnesite Works, as well as other emerging qualities.

Mapping railway and silos.

Mapping intensity of sand drawings.

Mapping internsity of sandscraper’s structure.


Test insitute: institute for transformation


Public facilities: Underground gym Library Swimming pool Beach area Testing facilities: Research tower Car acceleration track

Accommodation: Staff and student housing Green areas Other: Administration,warehouse and ticket office Train platform Lecture halls, meeting rooms and offices

Site plan.

Perspective view of the scheme.

Elevation along the site. 15

Areal view of Hartlepool with the proposed scheme.


Research tower.

Swimming pool.


Lecture halls and offices.

Acommodation unit.

Adminisntration and warehouses.


technical study: research tower

Co pla ncre tfo te e Ste rm lev an el su s a ato d s pp nd r s tai or sta ha rs t st irs ft, ruc wo tur rki ef ng or co nc ret es lab s

Z Se Pr mp inc con imar let clad dar y s e e di y s tee nv ng tee l s elo l s upp up pe po ort f rt f or or cla cla dd dd ing ing


Structural composition of the tower. The research tower is designed to act as both car storage and workshop/testing facility. 18

36. Plan: Main workshop Elevator Car storage

37. Section and elevation.


Workspaces Main workshop Car storage Elevator and services


Car track



I have produced large hand drawings to experiment with shapes derived from the notational drawing. 20




FACTORY OF SYNERGIES The site was located in an ex-industrial quarter to the East of the city centre of Barcelona, Can Ricart. It was already housing a number of existing residents, functions and activities. The project was meant to work with these and add to the mix of uses to encourage diverse but dynamic blend of cultural, economic and social attractors within the site. The proposal was meant to turn into a microcosm of the city where different functions and activities co-existed simultaneously with the aim of creating synergies and relationships amongst different programmes.

PROGRAMME The initial aim was to turn Can Ricart into a breathing space within a dense urban environment. There were two large parks close to the site - my scheme was intending to unite all these elements into a coherent public centre by encouraging circulation through the site. This lead to analysis of pedestrian flows and development of the masterplan with intention to maximize public engagement. Can Ricart had to turn into a place place where artists and business people working on the site would meet with general public. The focus shifted on a building in the centre of the site where according to theoretical speculations would be maximum number of passers-by and collisions of the movement flows. This building was intended to become an ‘Informarion Exchange’ where people of various cultural backgrounds and professions could meet, make contacts and exchange ideas. My aim was to design a labyrinth-like interior in order to make thejourney more complex and engaging thus making people stay longer, enjoy the artwork and bump into -nterestig personas.





The initial idea was to make the building be noticeable from the edge of the street. Hence the internal structure extrudes through the original envelope of the existing sutructre. The extrusion informed placement of an entrance to the building although there were more alternative entrances developed to make the concept of the labyrinth more effective.

Stepped sitting area for observation of the outdoor performance.


proposal: labyrinth

1. Extension of designer’s apartments 2. Workshopes 3. Theatrical organization 4. The clock tower: experimental space for video and audio installations, observatory. 5. Cultural exchange place: cafe, bar, art gallery 6. El Hangar 7. Cookery school and bakery 8. Food cooperative and business centre


7. 6.


5. 1.

4. 2.





ECOLOGIES The Ecologies project was primarily addressing how the artificial can participate to the natural and develop ecological relationships by exploring how architectural design can house activities as well as hosting space for non-human life to thrive. The project formed part of a contribution from the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape to the 2013 British Science Festival called ‘Bioblitz‘ that was taking place in Newcastle in September 2013. TThe site was located in an underused area of Heaton Park which forms a part of wildlife corridor though the city to Jesmond Dean. The approximately 40-70m2 intervention (including indoor and outdoor) was expected to allow for small groups of people to gather where they would discuss observations collected in the area as well as host larger gatherings.

PROGRAMME The building is a flexible open plan space for meetings and classes. Both activities can happen simultaneously because of curvature of the building- while one activity is happening, the other one is visually disconnected from it by the rotation of structural arches. Pre-existing concrete paddling pool is converted into a pond for growing reeds where insects, that would be tested during the Bioblitz festival, could thrive. The building is surrounded by the insect wall which is composed so it provides habitats for insects and small animals. It would allow samples to be taken and tested.



Nearby trees Views Movement Wildlife



The insect wall. 33



charrette What if Newcastle’s city council gave funds to architects to realize whatever they wanted? We have been asked to develop a proposal for a radical scheme that we think the city of Newcastle would benefit from.



GREEN CONNECTION Green spaces within the city became scarce because of the high cost of the land. Nevertheless, green lots in a busy urban environment are vital, hence I have proposed a vertical park to be built instead of the Haymarket building. The vertical park would also form a wildlife corridor with already existing park areas.








when the design starts from defining the whole body, which is then broken down to smaller ones.

of the influence of discovered new elements within the system. A labyrinth is a puzzle that the mind has to solve, hence it has to obey some logics, and when the logics are understood, the labyrinth can be solved. During the design project I was referring to the labyrinth and was wondering whether it is a completely random system or something that is repetitive and externally predefined. After having completed this model I have come to the conclusion that it could be neither- in my example the labyrinth is designed from inside out and with rules that components obey when affected by others.

In the bottom-up approach bodies can emerge through local intricate connections, alliances, aggregations and affiliations of base matter. These bodies cannot be reduced to any single, general, universal or ideal organization as they result from the complex interactions of disparate systems . The results also cannot be predicted as they depend on how each element influences one another.

I started building the model without any preconceived image how it should end up looking like. Rather, I have defined three elements: object (wall) , void and an external object ( the material of the model), which influences relationship between the object and the void. Then there was only the process of combining them together and modifying the result again and again, according to the way they relate to each other.

I am also interested in early works of Peter Eisenmann, which believed that architecture should cleanse itself of all obligations dictated by function, place, technique, or program, and address only those formal principles that helped solve the constructional problem in question . He aimed to find structures, laws, or principles that would explain appearance of the form and his works could be read, understood and judged in the manner of strictly mental operation. I find the most inspiring thing about him that he considered the design process more important than the final outcome.

I chose to work with these particular elements, because when I started thinking how the mind is trying to figure its way in an unfamiliar place, two things come into mind: looking for familiar objects and looking for openings, from where a wider context could be seen. The third dimension here is also very important, as a labyrinth would lose its essence without the height of the wall which prevents from seeing the escape- this is where matter comes into play. The image on the model shows an imaginary section through the labyrinth and what could be lurking there.

I see a labyrinth as a complex unpredictable system of disparate elements, where the bits and pieces that it is composed of, play the key role, rather than the resultant whole body, which is irrelevant when one is inside it. In my view, this is an important concept, as this could deal with an issue of many contemporary buildings, which have very impressive façades, but the interiors are disappointing: regularly spaces slabs with identical plan organisation on every floor that do not speak the same language as the exterior does. This is the failure of top-down approach,

A labyrinth is also something that can be figured out only by mental processes- identifying one’s location within the system, building a map inside one’s head. The map is never going to have definite boundaries; it is something that is very ambiguous and constantly changing because

When two techniques- model making and drawing- come together, there are more things that can be seen ( shadows, changing proportions of geometry, depending on the position of the viewer) and more ways to read and interpret the work, a lot of ways, like in a labyrinth.




post scriptum...



This idea emerged after having completed the Factory of Synergies project. In this proposal the labyrinth concept is still maintained, moreover, the gallery is designed to spray water vapour out of its concrete walls. There is a rainwater collecting system installed on the site- the collected water is channelled down to the reservoirs deep under the ground, which are a part of the building. The reservoirs are accessible to public via the stairs provided. This proposal emerged from the notion about hot Spanish summers - the Vapour Gallery provides people with a place to enjoy artwork, have a drink and hde from the heat.


Interior view (above) and section (below).


development: testing ground

Underground gym Library Swimming pool Beach area

Accommodation Garage

Auditorium Research tower Car acceleration track Car crash wall

Site plan.


Administration and warehouse Ticket office Train platform Meeting rooms, lecture halls

Elevation view, showing a car crashing into the wall.

Conceptual models, exploring form finding. Shapes derived from the sand diagrams.

Exploaded axonomettric of the research tower.


development: factory of synergies

Early masterplan with a labyrinthine structure containing artwork in front of the site. The proposed sculpural exhibiion is mean to attract people to the site and make Can RIcart into a focal point of the dstrict.


10. 12.



8. 3.

5. 4. 2.



Ca rre rd





Ro da

Early scheme: 1. Display wall, exhibition 2. Cafe/bar, cultural exchange place 3. Theatrical organization 4. Outdoor performance space 5. Extension of the Hangar+designer workshops 6. New accommodation building for designers 7. Market area 8. Cookery school 9. Bakery 10. Community gardens 11. Office spaces+cooperative food association 12. Car park


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