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Plug and Play

Part 1 Project 2000
George Legg
University of Sheffield, UK
Plug and Play.
Development of an Internet resource centre for Sheffield’s Riverside Exchange.

To help create a stronger relationship between society and the digital landscape, the Internet needs to gain a face and take on a perceivable form. As a bridge from the physical landscape, ‘net’ buildings could provide a key link to the future of Internet usage, encouraging people to view this new technology as part of their everyday lives. For this sort of project to work however connotations concerning the exclusive role of the net in society must be dissolved, making it more user friendly to a wide range of society.
Computer technology will certainly play an important role in the future development of our own culture. The level of useful application will however depend on the publics background knowledge of the subject and the way in which this progresses as a tool of modern society. If the digital landscape is to successfully supplement and enhance the physical landscape, the link between the two must be cemented.

The site
By providing Sheffield with a ‘net’ building, it is hoped that the potential of digital culture will be made available to a broader range of the local community. Sheffield’s current scheme of development is particularly concerned with encouraging a new generation of society to move into the inner city areas and boost the local economy. While offering these people access to Information technology facilities could a beneficial incentive encouraging them to move into the area, a net building is also of key importance to the current occupants of the city. The developed building is a culmination of the desire to create a universally recognisable image for Internet culture whilst also responding to the specific needs of Sheffield’s re generating urban program. What must be emphasised however is that the building is firmly routed in the physical landscape and is not an attempt to replace it with a virtual environment. For as William Mitchell observes, the next time you dial for pizza delivery consider the effect the seemingly innocuous telephone call may be having on your local shopping street and hence, the urban typology.

George Legg

George Legg's project takes a topical issue concerning the relationship of the virtual and the vital. Where many such projects remain as shape making in the virtual realm, George’s starts with a urban strategy, embedding his building into a riverside site in Sheffield. The project is based around two main strategies. A set of pods which house the main internet activities, and a host building into which the pods are plugged. The host building responds formally to the site and has a cunning relationship with the river, whilst the pods add a more temporary feel to the project. George's final presentation, of which this is just a very edited version, was a tour de force of overlaid graphics and text, which gave multiple readings to the project. When the examiners/viewers got overwhelmed by these images, there was set in front a conventional model which showed, in a concrete manner, the spatial skill behind the project.

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