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Glenluce Musicians Retreat: explorations in music and society

Part 1 Project 2009
Philip Zoechbauer
Mackintosh School of Architecture | UK
The programme seeks to create a Musical Retreat in the valley of Glenluce; a facility that will allow fifteen musicians to come together for a period of around 6 months to facilitate the making of music, liberated from the demands of everyday life.

The low-lying building seeks to respect the abbey as an icon, and stretches across the site from the abbey to the tree line, creating a journey from urbanity to nature, that leads one through the various spaces to the
main rehearsal space.

The off-grid nature of the site requires a holistic and sustainable approach, looking at placement and orientation to maximise natural resources.

The building is orientated to maximise solar gain in a deep-plan, and uses two materials- concrete and timber to simulate separate environmental responses as necessary. It will generate its own energy as required, grow its own food, harness natural resources, and recycle excess material. To minimise energy requirements, a U-value of less than 0.2 has been achieved for the building envelope.

Finally, the day-to-day cycle of sustainable living is integrated into the design, meeting the living needs of the inhabitants and complimenting them.

Philip Zoechbauer

The subtitle of the nominated project, ‘explorations in music and society’ is taken from a published collection of conversations between Israeli musician Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian writer Edward Said, co-founders of the West-Eastern Divan Workshop, an orchestra of young Arab and Israeli musicians. Besides the making of music, the collaboration of young people from opposing backgrounds is an attempt to explore society from a musical rather than a political perspective.

Responding to the manifold challenges of the programme coupled with the project location in an ‘off-grid’ rural setting, Philip’s proposal establishes a rigorous parti; the linear arrangement of the building accommodates the programmatic demands for personal and social space, whilst establishing a new landscape.

The building arrangement exploits the individual sleeping cells to isolate served and servant space, the everyday routine of dining and living distanced from the rituals of making of music. Movement between the kitchen and rehearsal space is spatially enriched by a subtle manipulation of the building section, exploiting natural light and offering a variety of spaces and connections to the landscape.

Contextually the building responds to the subtle agrarian geometries and stone boundary walls, whilst acknowledging the presence of the abbey. The placement of the building exploits a shift in the abbey’s enclosing wall to create a place of entry, from which the building unfolds. The precision of building placement and linear arrangement creates two domains within the site. The heavy planting of Willow trees to the north creates a closed, introverted space, whilst orchestrating visitor arrival and entry. The open aspect to the south exploits maximum solar exposure and offers an pastoral landscape for contemplation from within the sanctuary of the retreat.

The buildings extended surface area contingent with a linear arrangement is militated by exploiting the buildings cross section for passive ventilation and the extensive southern double-skin frontage for solar gain. Additionally the partial recessing of the building into the ground and the manipulation of the landscape offer protection from the elements and minimise visual impact on the abbey.

From conception, through detail design, to the communication of architectural intent, Philip’s project displays an exemplary range and depth of engagement, resulting in a proposal resolving programmatic and contextual demands in

Alan Hooper

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