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Community buildings, Stoke Newington

Part 1 Project 2000
Nathan Jones
University of Cambridge Cambridge UK
I like to use wide-ranging and often non-architectural references which serve as sources of inspiration and allow me to maintain sufficient critical distance from my work as it develops. The essays of Iain Sinclair describe a rich and deep urban experience and an understanding of place which prompted me to re-evaluate what a public architecture might encompass. In exploring the possibilities of enjoying Stoke Newington’s status as an edge – ‘London’s Interzone’ - the proposals replace an undesigned and undervalued void in the urban topography with community buildings which try to deal with ‘the difficult unity of inclusion’. A karate dojo was a key part of this personally developed program, and I was interested in the way in which karate embodies its philosophical ideals in an intensely real and physical form – a useful analogy to the architect’s brief. Yet since no one-to-one relationship exists between such sources and any subsequent architecture, the process of design is a leap of faith. A continuing re-evaluation of the possibilities of landscape and a concern with issues of construction were two key players in a dialectic process (over a range of scales and media) through which the design was evolved.
Nathan Jones

This second and third year vertical studio was based in London's Stoke Newington in order to investigate urban communities at the periphery of large cities. On the edge of the densely overgrown Abney Park cemetery, we sampled the delicate balance between typicality and tedium in the architecture of the everyday, as well as the relationship of built to unbuilt. In doing so we have emphasised the continuity of landscape, urban design and buildings in order to understand how the part and the whole are mutually informative and to probe the reciprocity of topographic relationships in nature and the human domain. Nathan Jones' projects represent an insightful investigation of what role the landscape plays in reconciling the domestic with the public domain. His cemetery gate project is a well-grounded yet unexpected intervention that pushes the end of a residential street into a series of transitions into the cemetery, recognising the potential for reintegrating such a territory into the city as well as the role of the individual within such a setting. Farther down the edge of the cemetery, his decision to put a 'downtown' building on the site reflects the strong need for a centre and public presence in a still undefined territory; at the same time he has manipulated the ground, extending the horizons of nature into a rich series of inventions in building and urban fabric.

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