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Industrial (r)Evolution

Part 1 Project 2010
James Moore
Birmingham City University | UK
Birmingham and Glasgow, once the thriving centres of the Industrial Revolution, have changed dramatically from their former powerful stature. Where once there was sprawl of bustling factories, now only remain a few skeletons of brick and steel framework to remind you of the city's rich industrial history - exciting to those who can imagine, obtrusive and ugly to those who cannot. It was through living in Birmingham for three years, exploring and documenting many of these forgotten relics, I formulated my final year project.

My initial research began with Chance Glassworks - previously one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world, supplying for such projects as the Great Exhibition of 1951 - which lies neglected and forgotten between a network of canals, railway lines and a motorway flyover. Together with a friend, I surveyed one of the canal-side factories, measuring and documenting it using our bodies as instruments, and with particular consideration to employing smell, touch and sound, as well as sight, influenced by Juhani Pallasmaa’s seminal book "The Eyes of the Skin." All the information we accumulated I recorded in a series of books, the last being a three dimensional study of the factory inspired by the work of Olafur Eliasson.

The final design module was based in Glasgow on a site of similar industrial and transport heritage. Located on a bridge over the River Clyde, formerly servicing the St. Enoch’s railway station, my building proposes a new pedestrian and cycle route linking the suburbs and the city centre. Occupying one half of the bridge (a goods line still operating on the other), its constraints naturally led to a building of industrial scale and proportion, echoing those of the Victorian age. The site intersects a point of multiple forces, both passive and mechanical, including trains, boats, wind, water and people. The building reacts to this changing environment, opening and closing different areas with changing tides, and using the various forces to generate energy. The building aims to engage the user by celebrating the mechanics of the structure and exposing the excitement of harnessing energy from sustainable resources.

James Moore

Final year undergraduate projects at the Birmingham School of Architecture were based around the meta-theme of mobility, explored across virtual and physical realms considering political and social issues. Students were engaged in the PolyarkII exchange with the University of Strathclyde, following the original intent of Cedric Price’s ‘National Schools Plan’ of 1966 in creating an amorphous but sharply responsive network of students and tutors, offering a broader, more vivid education.

James Moore's project considered two derelict sites, the first in Birmingham at Chances Glassworks, the second in Glasgow at Paddy's Market. Both sites had succumbed to external pressures, the former to the global commercial market, the latter to local authority intervention.

Original research work formed the basis for James' documentary approach at Chances Glassworks, which sought to evaluate the existing fabric of the building, it's scale and context responding to issues of heritage and memory. The resultant publication illustrates a rich cultural history and its current neglected state through a layered sequence of images and void.

James' commitment to his studies led to him and a group of fellow students cycling nearly 300 miles from Birmingham to Glasgow for a study trip in early February, no mean feat in the poor weather conditions. This perhaps subconsciously laid the foundation for his second intervention located on a railway bridge across the river Clyde to the south of the Paddy's market site with a strong environmental and social concern. A programme of interconnected pedestrian and cycle routes and facilities, combined with energy generation using wind, tidal and human power forms the basis for the project, unconventional in scale, brief and resolution and reminiscent of the city’s once prolific shipbuilding industry. The resultant project is responsive at a strategic city scale and demonstrates how the profession and wider society responds to the current energy and environmental crises. The representation of the scheme in an almost monochromatic spectrum, the use of the diagrammatic axonometric as a key visual and the layered texture of unrefined materials critically positions it as an industrial artefact within an increasingly gentrified city ‘quarter’.

Michael Dring
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