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Urban Primary School

Part 1 Project 2004
Jennifer McKerr
Billy Gibson
Queen's University Belfast UK
This primary school was initially conceived as a promenade and developed as a building that the occupants can journey through.
The focus, the main circulation route, appealing to the bodies physical sense of movement is a simple gesture of the stair ‘going and coming back at you on another level’.
The project consists of three ‘solid’ volumes and a levitating ‘lightweight’ element intertwined, resulting in a concurrence of planes of varying thickness and visual density.
The relationship with the outside is maintained with playgrounds, courts, intimate gardens –‘secure green boxes’ and a landscape that reveals, grows, sinks, and conceals.

Jennifer McKerr
Billy Gibson

The student started with an individual approach involving analysis of the physical nature of the site, and a number of graphic expressions of her experience of the site within the greater urban context.

Early proposals were developed considering movement through the site and the relationship of that movement to the ground which led to a series of linked external and internal spaces. Design proposals were then developed addressing the specific requirements of the brief.

Internal spaces and building form were modelled from an early stage and were studied through the use of photographs and development of the models. The detailed design derived from conceptual development of the early studies and considered the precise relationship of the building to the ground. This aspect of the scheme was developed through a process that refined ideas of layers in the construction and expression of ‘lightness’ and ‘heaviness’ in relation to the site.

The resultant project clearly demonstrates a student with a developed intuitive and creative design process.


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