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Basque culture: (re)appropriating the edge

Part 2 Project 2009
Matthew Sicolo
University of Plymouth, UK
A sense of material solidity characterises the architecture surrounding Pasaia Bay, northern Spain. It is a place where cultural and social values demand an edge composition that simultaneously supports the inhabitation of space both on the inside and outside of this solidly built edge. My (re)presentation of this inhabited edge occurs through a play of woven landscape and expanded threshold which, through ambiguity, both reaffirms the current inside/outside relationship and develops it to include the occupation of a variety of spaces in-between. The sense of movement is enlivened by a series of screens of different densities constructed from hung ceramic extrusions in response a local abundance of tile. This combination of layers instils a heightened sense of transition as movement selectively reveals and hides spatial depth.
Matthew Sicolo

As tutors we all encourage our students to take risks, yet we equally know that much can militate against this. It is thus all the more rewarding to see a student who is willing to venture into the unknown on some many different fronts. Matt’s work is evidence of this in a number of ways.

Set in the context of the regeneration of Pasaia Bay in San Sebastian, Spain, Matt’s proposal is grounded in a respect for the sensibilities and values of the Basque people. Yet while echoing a sense of density, robustness and mass intrinsic to the buildings and landscape of the region, Matt’s work moves away from mere reiteration, evoking these qualities through a re-interpretation embedded in a play of spatial density and light. These qualities are further enhanced through the articulation of movement through and around a set of translucent, transparent and filigree layers, which in turn reflect his understanding of the pre-eminence of the street, and the relationship of buildings with this, in enabling civic and social life in Basque culture and communities. Again veering away from mimesis, his proposal re-interprets traditional building fabric as a series of dissipated filters which enable social interaction and spatial appropriation. These layers mediate a new yet familiar sense of relationship between inside and outside, private and public. Further venturing is evident in his exploration of the materiality of the building; while reflecting the terracotta tile present in the landscape, it draws upon recent developments to present the tile in a new form while reinforcing the spatial and experiential qualities of his proposal. A final willingness to explore new ground is represented in a series of three-dimensional drawings which in respective single images evoke both the depth of and transitory spatial experience his proposition offers.

Robert Brown

Mr Robert Brown
Prof Jeremy Gould
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