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Mabgate Foyer

Part 1 Project 2002
Stephen Brewer
Andrew Aitken
Leeds Beckett University, UK
A 'Foyer' in Mabgate Leeds, a place where young homeless people can find accommodation and training under one roof proved an interesting and challenging project.

The scheme originated from a desire to capture and encapsulate the true meaning of its surroundings. Through meditation on program and site and a desire to express in creative ways, themes of meaning began to emerge that could be interwoven in a harmonious relationship.

A form evolved through an understanding of how the requirements of the project could be expressed in both natural and non-natural aspects of the site.

Developed in this way the building became an expression of the dichotomy between regular organising principles and dynamic intervention as a result of contextual effectors and events.

A stream identified itself as an important aspect of the site and so was expressed within the building as a curved wall. A bridge over the stream terminates one end of the curve acting as a crossing point and zone of interaction.

The foyer unites the grids of the adjacent buildings as they fight for dominance over the site. The grid to the west gives the most appropriate orientation to the stream while the mill grid to the east gives the best orientation to the streetscape.

Within the central space of the Foyer a separately articulated gallery is found giving rise to a strong connection with the outside community.

This interpretation of a unique site and program within Leeds, enhances the urban setting while encouraging new relationships between residents and the community.

Stephen Brewer
Andrew Aitken

The Mabgate Foyer project was designed to encourage the student to consider how built form may be used to define and organise external spaces. The student was also asked to investigate how a hierarchy of spaces (ranging from public to private,) could be developed, giving residents and visitors a clear sense of how the building was intended to be used.

The student was encouraged to follow the RIBA Plan of Work in microcosm, with a comprehensive regard for all aspects of the design-project’s resolution.

Stephen's approach to the development of design-projects is characterised by a committed use of model making. His photographs of beautifully made small-scale development-models convey precisely what the proposed building could be like. The proposed materials are clearly indicated in the model making.
A second characteristic of his work is his effective use of sectional perspectives. He used them to explore the continuity between internal and external space; the annexation of external spaces; and the formation of interconnections between the various levels of his project. He also used them to develop the scheme as a holistic exercise in which all aspects are seen to be well integrated.

His skill in assembling multi-layered compositions, involving volumes within volumes, developed throughout the year, becoming much more three-dimensional and sculptural in the second semester.

His work had a catalytic effect on the work of his fellow students, always setting a high standard for others to follow.

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