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The Youth Hostel for Leeds

Part 1 Project 2000
Peter Rice
Leeds Beckett University Leeds UK
The Youth Hostel for Leeds grew from the site and it's immediate surroundings. The river Aire meanders through a once heavily industrialised area of this Northern city before doing a 90 degree turn and rushing through the Dark Arches, an amazing subterranean edifice which supports the railway station above.

Parts of the buildings at station level have been pushed through the arches at seemingly random points and the arches have been extended through different axes, making the most crude and wonderful (dis)junctions.

The site itself was once a water meadow then later a coal wharf and then a warehouse, surrounded by factories, mills and railwaylines. The first impression is that the area is very ugly and there is nothing worthwhile to see, but by observing more closely you can begin to understand what you are looking at.

The concept behind the youth hostel was an attempt to distil this discovery of hidden treasure in the randomness, neglect and disjunction and to celebrate the human endeavour in the making of a building. It seemed to fit in with the ethos of hostelling; seeking a more simple, human centred approach to life.

Peter Rice

Peter Rice's First Class work in the Third and Final Year of the BA(Hons)Degree Course in Architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University (L.M.U.) emerged from a challenging situation in which he tried to maintain a balance between the interests of his architectural studies and the interests of his family. ( He has a wife and five children.)
When he started the course, he already had a Degree in Fine Art. During the Course, he taught watercolour- technique at a local Education Centre. He also occasionally taught in the First Year at L.M.U.. His drawings were a source of inspiration for his fellow-students. His analytical drawings have a topographical value which will outlive their usefulness for this particular project.
This project (for a riverside Youth Hostel containing a Poetry Centre, in Leeds, (a 'Youth Hostel for Reflection',) ended a year of extraordinarily energetic artistic and technological investigation and experimentation.
He saw the building-type as consisting of two parts: the private part consisting of bedrooms and the warden's flat; and the public part, consisting of the communal rooms and the Poetry Centre. Each of the two is clearly expressed. The former is placed on top of the latter.
In his design, the lower (communal) part extends and echoes the geometries, dimensions and constructional character of the Dark Arches -( the loadbearing brickwork crosswalls of the outsize railway viaduct supporting Leeds City Station (on the other side of the river Aire.))
The upper (private) part echoes the geometry and frame construction of the adjacent speculative office blocks which flank the Youth Hostel on either side.
These two distinct parts are unified by means of a controlling system of proportions: the height of the lower is half that of the upper, so that, when seen with its reflection, the communal part occupies an equal and central third of the whole composition. Furthermore, the plan of both parts is inscribed within the same square.
There is gleeful wildness; there is control; there is, overall, a recognisably characteristic sense of balance.

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