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Palate's Palace - Designing For Uncertainty

Part 1 Project 2009
Philip Turner
Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne UK
The project is situated within the uneasy and abrasive concrete fabric of Gateshead, in an anxious time of government redevelopment and public uncertainty; the infamous and centrally located ‘Get Carter’ car park that defines the skyline is currently being demolished, making way for a contemporary multi-use sprawl in an attempt to re-address the community’s burgeoning recreational needs. The focus of the project is to address this particularly ambiguous and lengthy time period to provide a new socially responsive public realm as a counter balance.

Using the annual Gateshead Food Festival as a recognised catalyst for social exchange in the area the project looks to expand upon this to create a permanent venue for the festival located upon an existing supermarket car park. The initial phase of the scheme involves the reallocation of car parking space and the reinterpretation of disused sites within Gateshead as social platforms, allowing festival activities to emerge.

The aesthetic principles of the venue construction are closely integrated with the context of uncertainty. A wild, dense growing wall shrouds the external envelope, this is not only an attempt to soften the impact of the stern surroundings but acts as an indicator of time; as the context is demolished the aesthetics progress, with colour, density and form. The horizontal inner-environment is similarly progressive; a non-hierarchical approach was sought to encourage programmatic merging, allowing functions to swell, producing an exciting, kinetic environment that can be physically reinterpreted by an individual.

It was my intention throughout each aspect of the scheme to promote community interaction through a range of means, whether the publicly aided construction of the festival infrastructures or the freedom to define, reinterpret and organise pockets of space within Palate’s Palace. I aimed to utilise the existing ambience of uncertainty within Gateshead, embracing the exciting aspects of imminent changes in an attempt to place a little more control into the hands of the community.

Philip Turner

Palate’s Palace project proposes to activate the heart of Gateshead centre through a temporary community-based food festival. Temporary infrastructures for this festival which are precisely located throughout the city centre will encourage social exchange and transform misused, underused and disused spaces into moments of delight, fun and encounter. More than just a temporary festival, Palate’s Palace project includes a fixed base, a permanent structure, which supports the festival and widens its scope throughout the year whilst carrying out activities that celebrate food.

For the festival temporary structures, Phil Turner not only employs ready made structures such as garden sheds but he also investigates alternative materials such as recycled cardboard to create tables and stools that are brought flat on site and mounted by event participants. His highly inventive register of materials and his ability to reinterpret and customise already existing elements give his scheme a true sense of fun.

Located in the heart of Gateshead, on a supermarket car park, Phil Turner’s Palate’s Palace is envisaged with a short life span and illustrates how to intervene in an urban location in transition.

Light weight materials are employed in a brilliant and bold manner: the Palace presents a soft edge, almost like a curtain in movement that is folded towards the various entrance points whilst generating outdoor space for exchange and informal events. The skin is a delicate veil of planted flowers and transparent materials. This allows for the building to change according to the seasons and strongly contrast with the hard urban environment.

The tree-like structure of Phil Turner’s project remarkably achieves an overall sense of informality and disregard for hierarchy. The courtyards punctuating the space provide natural light as well as vertical connections to the green roof terrace. In addition, the interior space is articulated with a series of independent clusters, at times fixed (for the service areas such as kitchen, café-bar, toilets, etc), and at other times movable thus allowing for a variety of activities to unfold. A strong proposal that illustrates beautifully that architecture can address uncertainty.


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