Next Project

Private Menmbers Club

Part 1 Project 1999
Steven Morton
University of Westminster, UK
"The width of streets, the heights of buildings, the presence of trees... Urban lives are shaped on the most subtle and neglected ways by these arrangements of space."

Sadie Plant>The Most Radical Gesture...

The hotel project was initially inspired by research into the Situationist International whilst writing my dissertation.

Firstly, I began by de-familiarising myself with Soho by wilful exploration of streets and 'porthole' spaces. This method was repeated by following a walking guide to Soho New York.

I became fascinated with the social disparity, leading to juxtapose the 'media (coke) head' and the 'street (crack) user' to form the programme and occupants.

My reaction was to analyse both the abstracted survey and the program of the Downtown Athletic Club in terms of their 'neglected' spatial arrangements.

I placed the subsequent data into scatter-graphs to analyse each result to the others, irrespective of heirachy. The data, as suggested in the above quote, was neglected values, such as height of space or width of street.

The reinvented hotel programme consists of the two 'strains' intertwined and juxtaposed.

The subsequent product locates itself in the 'media-land' of Golden Square, literally feeding off the Sony Corporation HQ.

Steven Morton

The unit was asked to explore and document modern urban life, through precise and varied examination of occupation and built form in Soho, Central London. Observations drawn from these recordings formed the central thesis of each student’s own brief, which they wrote themselves, for a ‘hotel’ to be sited on a vacant plot in Golden Square.

Steven used situationist techniques to defamiliarise himself with the area and to re-read the urban topography of Soho. By merging a street guide to Soho New York with his own photographic survey, he produced a personal non-guide to the area. Using accurately surveyed information such as building height, window position and width of street he made a series of scattergraph drawings, and these drawings became the site of his investigation. He combined the drawings with analytical readings of the programme for the Downtown Athletic Club. From these re-recordings he made volumes, each one allocated a particular use. By following a series of site and programme specific rules, these forms were given position and scale on the site.

A proposal for built form began to take shape. The project started to be occupied, and the interior life and use of the proposal was explored, revealing a strange-but-true interior, where walls, floors and ceilings merge and and rooms collide. Squash court floors wrap up the walls, and bedrooms perch over lift shafts. External volumes are clad in materials according to their internal programme, and movement between spaces is precarious but possible.

The outstanding success of this project is the unflinching way in which the leap between analytical speculation to proposal for built form was made. The method of working that the student found and made his own could continue forever, and the project might never stop. At all times it was both completely in and wholly out of his control, driven by a personal reading of the city and yet strangely detached from what we all already know about it.

• Page Hits: 1932         • Entry Date: 08 January 1999         • Last Update: 10 May 2001