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Eyemouth Wreck conservation Hall

Part 1 Project 2008
Jonathan Black
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
Eyemouth on the south-east coast of Scotland has maintained for centuries a rich and often tragic relationship with the sea. The presence of over a hundred shipwrecks off Eyemouths’ coast are a tangible reminder to the perils of a maritime culture.

The work of the conservation facility includes the stabilisation and restoration of boats that have been salvaged from the sea, necessitating a high level of environmental control within the building to support this painstaking process.

The facility manifests itself as a series of heavy and light elements responing to variations within the programme and in environmental requirements.

Jonathan Black

The proposal is for a Wreck Conservation Hall and Facility located in the small town of Eyemouth on the east of Scotland. The town remains actively connected to the sea, although its original source of income, the fishing industry is in slow decline. The programme anticipates the potential for new maritime industries to help as part of the regeneration process. In particular the wealth of shipwrecks in the surrounding waters provide the focus for a conservation facility designed and managed using rigorous sustainable principles.

The building provides a temporary home for historic wrecks during the initial stages of the conservation process, requiring the architect to rationalise the demands of the conservation process – a constant temperature teamed with fluctuating but highly controlled levels of humidity, with the demands of the research and conservation staff. The brief demands that the designer achieves these environmental conditions in a sustainable manner through consideration and development of form, envelope and arrangement from inception through to completion, suggesting that the facility can act as an exemplar for sustainable development in the future.

The proposal is based on a brown field site, in a working boat yard, reusing and rationalising the existing infrastructure, access points from road and water and microclimate. The main hall becomes the defining architectural piece, giving presence and mass to an otherwise mute and intangible process, and marking and animating the conjunction point of the town, its people and the historic river Eye. During the day natural light filtering through the articulated structure provides a subtly shifting backdrop to the cleaning below, by night it becomes a lantern light, a reminder of the activity within.

Navigating between the human scale of the passing pedestrians and the sheer size of the wrecks being processed, the proposal carefully considers how the envelope can ensure that environmental conditions are met while attempting to produce a new material language, a thread of continuity with the towns industrial past.

Alan Hooper
Ms Sally Stewart
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