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Patchwork House

Part 1 Project 2009
Andrew Thomson
Sheffield Hallam University, UK
The Patch Work House is a campus for the ‘University of the 3rd age’ based in Camden Town, London. Aimed at the older generation who come together to exchange knowledge and information, this is a public building that will forge links and open up a dialogue between older people and the younger generation of Camden.

I wanted the building to encourage links and promote accessibility through the building form, circulation and dynamics within the site. In allowing movement to flow through and around the building, the proposed design provides spaces which not only encourage the occurrences of spontaneous events, but also one-to-one interaction.

The U3A campus’ brief requirements allowed the spaces to be grouped into similar functions. Spatial arrangement is configured by treating these groups of spaces as a collection of objects. By looking at how they affect each other, their respective uses and the effect of the creation of positive/ negative spaces around them, a building scheme began to emerge.

The building line creates a series of overlapping boundaries with implied edges, places beneath, places above and interstitial space within whilst still providing a route through and around the site to stitch Camden Gardens, the adjacent canal front and a newly created Camden Bridge Gardens together. The level changes within the building are designed to create interesting views and spaces for sky allotments and roof greenery.

Creating new public space and re-invigorating the canal basin, the building is an access point for visitors wanting to experience Camden as a tourist destination, whilst forging a local 3rd generation community by linking in to Camden through its cultural heritage. The Patch Work House draws on Camden’s existing identity by providing a market space and encourages creative activity through the arts.

The Patch Work House creates and supports an overlapping of daytime and night time activities. It is "nature arranged on many levels" to providing an extension to existing nature of the site. It provides multi-level public space as an extension to existing public spaces. The Patch Work House becomes a multi-level park. It takes on the character of the happening.

Andrew Thomson

This project invited students to design a campus for the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Camden Town. They were asked to imagine a building that promotes learning for an ageing population as an entitlement and core constituent of our society, communities, friendships, self-fulfilment and wellbeing. The site mediates between the Regent's Canal, Kentish Town Road and the North London Overground railway.

Andrew's scheme is an intellectual quest to resolve an urban design proposition. The concept of The Patchwork House is sensitively derived from the insightful observation of the aging demographic and their collections. This project is an experimentation of engaging the building users within the predominantly youthful and eccentric part of London using the given function. The scheme, an analogy to treating architecture as a series of collections - that of spaces and functions (as opposed to artefacts) makes for a refreshing planning strategy for a building of this unusual typology. The physical models also represent an incredible degree of three dimensional design, and a synthesis/ patchwork/ stitching of ideals on many levels.


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