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Urban Sanctum

Part 1 Project 2002
Jonathan Leeke
David Gormley
Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool UK
The urban sanctum project invites individuals into an oasis of peace amidst the turmoil of busy city life. It will provide a ‘place’ for rediscovery of the living soul, giving freedom to explore and find insight into the depths of the human mind while releasing the body from its invisible cage. This aspiration will be executed by an array of programmes within the urban sanctum to invigorate the mind and energise the body. Principally, creating a balance or harmony between the mind and body - the process of renewal - will have numerous features that envelope a cyclic procession through stages of identifying, cleansing and purifying.

A concrete box within an array of public houses, greets the individual. Its function hidden, until sight of the low dividing wall on the boundary of the building’s façade, with ‘urban sanctum’ subtly engraved. The deep, exterior wall emphasises protection offered by the sanctum, its strength becomes your strength.

The protective exterior allows penetration through to the interior at designated points, offering views of the activities it havens, additionally offering views of the outside world once within the sanctum, within the cycle of renewal, re-emphasising ones existence within the city.

Everybody needs a sanctum, a private room or place to learn and grow, to reassess their place in life, in a community. The project explored this need as compensation for the complexities of modern life. This project is not intended to resist the fast lane of life, but to neutralise it. It reinserts a socio-cultural scheme to be nurtured by society itself.

Jonathan Leeke
David Gormley


Jonathan’s design for an Urban Sanctum reflects a preoccupation with providing a place of tranquillity as a counterpoint within the core of a busy part of the city centre. The thematic interpretation undertaken culminated in a design, which derives its inspiration from the idea of a Hortus Conclusus, the enclosed garden. External heavy concrete walls reaffirm the rites of crossing thresholds between the external and the inner realms of the Sanctum, thus bringing into play symbolic, physical and psychological consciousness. This attitude prevails throughout the scheme and is expressed by the demarcation of architectural features at the crossing of key domains. An internal garden acts as the fulcrum for the project where various parts of the Sanctum are arranged around. The deliberate choice of a stripped down minimal approach to the design attempts to nurture an environment, which is conducive for relaxation and self-reflection. This is an example of a piece of work, which demonstrates a rigorous approach in the development and execution of a thematic enquiry.

2002
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