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A media centre for differing social practices

Part 1 Project 1999
Carlo Appiani
University of Greenwich, UK
Looking at the consumption of food as a social practice that allows people to gather, I observed today’s passenger, a regular commuter, who by virtue of eating alone is isolated in the crowd. The place of traditional regular social practice, where people gathered and at the same time maintained their individuality in their prayers, was a church.

Today the Church, which used to be a place for gathering and educational values, seems to have been replaced by the media. Through careful investigation in local libraries and planning departments I found that in Dartford the sites of the previous churches had been replaced by places of consumption, like shopping centres, McDonald’s outlets etc. From these initial investigations I created the programme for my building - A MEDIA CENTER FOR DIFFERING SOCIAL PRACTICES.

Through a series of drawings of church interiors investigating lines of perspective, my form created a similar but slightly different form. A central space was sliced horizontally by interactive glass, and made a connection to the world by virtue of touch, sound or vision.

My Media Centre is a Church of Today. Small spaces surrounding the central space were ‘elastic’ spaces which different community groups could use for different social practices (e.g local libraries, rented spaces for musical practices). In this way the spaces co-exist together but provide an individuality of experience and use by changes of the colour of the light or humidity of the atmosphere.

Carlo Appiani

Carlo Appiani responded marvellously to rather a complex brief that was structured to create an agenda for architectural propositions and programmatic considerations.

Many techniques of representation were used to achieve connections between drawing, model making and computing. Each student had to create their own programme for a building through careful guidance and exposure to a variety of options.

A MEDIA CENTER FOR DIFFERING SOCIAL PRACTICES was an original programme created to cater for the variety of purposes of today. The Media as opposed to the Church was original programmatically, but, equally, materiality was used to alter the possibility of interaction with the building itself.

Careful investigations based on the history of the town of Dartford, combined with a high quality of drawings, models and computer models (the student was exposed for the first time to some of these computing softwares) were exquisitely mastered, and used for a variety of purposes. Looking at the results the portfolio provided a coherent and well defined connection between programmatic and representational issues and resulted in a comprehensive design project.

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