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E-Merge @ The Cyber Arena

Part 2 Project 2001
Yvonne Rathbone
Leeds Beckett University, UK
Welcome To The Third Place*

On the 21st February 2001 Sony announced it is to form a video games alliance with Sega and Namco to form the arcade centres of the future. These centres are set to become a “combination of the traditional physical game centres of the past and a new entry point into the cyberworld for a Web generation.”

Function

E-merge is a dense, mixed-use development on a ‘brown-field’ site within Leeds city centre housing facilities associated with the computer games industry. Its primary function is a computer games arena for face to face and online interaction.

Form

The strong, central, elliptical void was derived from the dominant form of Leeds Corn Exchange to the north of the site. When taken at the same scale as The Colosseum in Rome, the plan of the Corn Exchange replicates the sandpit of the Colosseum where Games took place bonding the old arena to the new. This link combined with a theory of form based on the idea of the building as metaphor for the game, and influences from the film ‘The Matrix,’ in which the pod is a transition zone between the real and cyber world resulted in the form of the final scheme.

Yvonne Rathbone


Fascinated by computer-aided architectural visualization , and its use in a multiplicity of media, Yvonne used the year to hone transferable architectural visualization skills. The thesis-topic developed from this fascination: a center for the playing, creation and sale of computer games. The thesis would be presented using the technology used for the games themselves.

In its requirement to overcome a variety of challenges within a given time, the thesis-year shared certain characteristics with computer games. It came to be seen as a year-long multilevel struggle in which Yvonne was enmeshed and from which she has now successfully emerged.

She knows that the thesis-topic has a self-contradictory aspect and that e-technology frees people from having to meet in the sort of city center building proposed. She pursued the project because of two beliefs: firstly, that it is better for games-players to meet , rather than to play alone; secondly, that, in a world in which urban areas and buildings need regenerating, the attraction of computer games is a potential source of regenerative power. Whilst fascinated by the implications and potential of the new technology, she is committed to working for the renewal of existing inner cities.

2001
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