My preliminary considerations were for type of intervention which was most appropriate to the site, with particular thoughts about:
Verticality - expressed in a condensation of construction, treating the landscape as a surface to be safeguarded; and
Horizontality - the organisation of the territory, dealing with the landscape in its entirity.
Although the brief required an auditorium, the nature of the site gave me the opportunity of think about the meaning of parks which were a 19th century invention, created to allow the new city dwellers to reflect on their own existence:
“… the city of the new age has no more lines of demarcation; it is no longer a whole with unambiguous boundaries, but a checkerboard, a conglomerate of units.... The phenomenal multiplicity of the modern urban park makes necessary a varied range of interventions, which have to take into account and cater to an equally disparate range of lifestyles..." (A. Gauze, Lotus 88)
In this way the park generated my design.
The program was exploded in a number of patterns which include activities where the inhabitants are able to identify themselves.
The 2 MAIN AXES along the linear park and the proposed new road developed this concept. In particular there are 3 GATEHOUSES related to pedestrian movement.
The HOUSING has the important function of bringing the inhabitants to live directly on the park and recognise it every day. It is concentrated along the canal as a logical extension of the existing residential community.
KIOSKS/PAVILIONS are located mainly along the 2 generating axes. They offer an opportunity to be aware of Performing Arts as well as one's own personal existence.
The PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE LOCATION was the most challenging task. If I was to answer the brief in terms of the number of auditorium seats, the question was how to realise that through a series of different patterns located over the park. The adopted solution ABOVE / UNDER GROUND makes these patterns the main feature; through this it is possible to experience Performing Arts because they are the only way to reach the Auditorium, Stage, Back stage....
The competition brief asked students to design a large public building set beside a park, forming a cultural landmark for Dublin and acting as a major element of the regeneration of the North Docklands: it must both create an international attraction and contribute to the local community.
Students at Liverpool are encouraged to question the precepts of the brief and to overlay their own interpretations: Mirko’s extrapolation of the intentions of the brief re-focused the project towards the issue of dealing with large-scale urban space. His approach embraced a multi-faceted idea of performance and developed the openness and accessibility throughout the urban block which surrounds the original site.
Using references drawn from existing park-scapes, he attempted to comment on the condition of providing urban parks in late twentieth century cities. Idiom and reference were used as tools to explore ideas of zoning and inhabitation of the featureless site.
In progressing the design, Mirko explored the use of architectural form, material and movement to provide a necessary sense of cohesion and conversation between the scheme’s island and pavilion buildings and in the process developed an idiosyncratic architectural language to describe the various activities laid down in the original brief.
A gatehouse building was used to generate ideas about the dialogue between his understanding of contemporary Dublin (steel box) and the historic-cultural dependence of the city as a tourist destination (timber boat form). Each pavilion borrows from this initial design statement, containing elements of the two contrasting forms, so that although the elements may at first appear disparate, they share a common palette of approaches to their various functions.
In recognition of the intentions of the competition, he reached the compromise of a large auditorium which sat into the ground plate was reached, allowing a continuous appreciation of the openness of the park. The resultant scheme demonstrates a mature and intelligent approach to large-scale urban intervention, coupled with a delicate use of detail and form in the intimacy of the individual architectural elements.
At an intermediate stage in the project’s development Mirko’s scheme was award joint first place in the Leaunas competition in Dublin.