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Office for Voluntary Sector Agencies

Part 1 Project 2000
Ting Chuen(joe) Lo
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
Office for Voluntary Sector Agencies.

The project is generated by developing the two dimensional surface of the site into a dynamic topological landscape. The site as found is mute , quiet within the surrounding abandonment characterised by low levels of habitational intensity. It is connected to the dense programming of the city centre by a radial spur oblique to the city grid forming one of its edges.

The resulting ` wedge` is developed into several floating `earth` planes which are elevated over the subtractive hollowing of the ground plane. The superstructure twisting, stacking and spiralling from under the earth into the sky. These landscape plates accomodate the individual offices, lantern like glass boxes clad in louvres of different materials - concrete the earth (mother ground), timber the tree (living on earth) and glass the air (divine) and most of all light (fire). The light diffused through the louvres expresses the contrast between heaviness and lightness, transparent and opaque open and secure.

Instead of the convention of interlocking blocks to create interior space the elevated planes construct a dynamic topological landscape with a ramped experiential journey around , above and underneath from interior to exterior , semi enclosed and covered capturing views beyond to reach the city. A dynamic anchor in the decaying city inverting the defensive tectonics of the found site to reverse its reading whilst retaining its poetic resonance.

Ting Chuen(joe) Lo

The project required the provision of office space for three agencies providing advice to voluntary sector clients.Some accomodation(exhibition space, meeting and interview rooms and a cafe) to be shared and relatively public, the remainder split between each agency as private and secure office space. The project was supported by live briefing sessions with each client group and utilised a realistic site in a regeneration area close to Manchester city centre.

Joe Lo demonstrated exceptional virtuosity in understanding complex programmatic requirements and translating these into a convincing spiral wound organisation which provided both the necessary privacy and community desired by client groups. The expressive language inspired by observational studies of the immediate context resulted in a powerful form incorporating a sensitive and sophisticated handling of materials and tectonic resolution.The idea of the building unpeeling from the ground plane as a propped plate creates an unfolding spatial continuity metaphorically a landscape of events carefully balancing the relationship between interiority and exteriority. The project is convincing at all levels formally, spatially, programmatically, technologically. It is impressively illustrated from sketchbook via development models to presentation drawings including the final model at 1:50 which is outstanding. The whole programme was critically informed by avariety of texts focussing on phenomenology, materiality and tectonics and the significance of their influence is acutely evident in the project presentation.

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