The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards

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YORK FREE ZONE

YORK ARTS CENTRE AND MASTERPLAN

The site is situated in the city of York, one of the most important cultural cities of the North. All year long there are numerous art exhibitions, craft fairs as well as full time arts and crafts shops. Yet there is no place for the local artists to gather, create and discuss. For this I am proposing an arts centre covering all forms of art, from still to vibrant. From painting, sculpting and craft making to theatre dance and filmmaking.
The project consists of a gallery, working studios, photo labs, a café, a theatre, a dance studio, space for the performers and an underground garage as well as ideas for converting the parking lot across the river to a park.
The project could be considered a free-zone. This means that there should me a maximum allowance of freedom to the inhabitant in every part of the building. Freedom to move around, to observe, to experience, to create, enjoy and relax. My theory is that from creating nothing there is a potential for creating everything. I am proposing a minimal space, clean of any unnecessary, forms in order to leave all the work to the inhabitant – to make the space their own by transforming it and decorating it in any way the desire. I am proposing deliberate mess within order.
The building’s calmness and minimalism is where the free mind is expected to act maximalist…


George Kontaroudis


This project looked at the possible alternatives to the development of a real site; one that York City Council have formed a blinkered view of and to whose scheme there is great local opposition. The potential of this site is to open up and expand the boundaries of York’s attraction, linking this whole end of the city centre back into the thriving cultural, commercial and much-visited heart of York. Students were invited to meet this challenge.

George’s Free Arts Centre provides a much needed venue for both visual and performing arts, together with studio space, encouraging greater interaction between residents and visitors. George’s approach concentrates on the varied experiences of moving through a building. This is not a one way route, but designed for access from any point in the surrounding city. Although security necessitates entrances to the interior be kept to a minimum, his achievement is to knit the building into the landscape, to be walked through, over and under in such a way that the two become a series of continuous, flowing spaces and experiences. The visitor is gathered in to the central space and then flung out into the city to discover new areas and routes.

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