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Urban Blocks 1

Part 1 Project 2010
Lee Whiteman
University of Portsmouth | UK
The project presented an opportunity to develop the urban fabric of Brighton, and to reconnect disparate parts of the city. Understanding the city's cultural background was fundamental to the design of a building that could be integrated into the already complex urban cultural scene.

The project was first initiated through the study of the city 'block' as a transient space through which activities take place. The idea of 'urban journeys' was thus developed. Secondly, the 'mediateque', as a building type was analysed, and a brief developed. Following on from the idea of a journey, the building was conceived as a series of cinematic spaces to be experienced in time.

My personal interpretation of the mediateque was that it should form a part of the bigger cultural landscape within Brighton. I looked at the existing exhibition/gallery/library/workshops, and mapped them on a city plan, with my new mediateque as an 'addition'. The idea of ‘networking the city’ through those activities thus came about. I intended to use the site as the heart of the urban block and the heart of the city. Deciding upon an Architecture Centre as the main function, and the ‘Architecture Cinema’ as a central focus of the design.

I developed the form of the building through a series of sketch models, each one testing the idea of a building form against the conceptual notion of movement through a city block. The notion of movement was then further translated into an architectural language that used extended walls, which wove themselves through the site, sometimes converging to emphasize a key turning point, and sometimes diverging to create a public space.

The urban block is thus traversed by a series of linear building forms, which are both object buildings and at the same time they envelope a number of external spaces, giving enclosure to a series of public, semi-public and private outdoor plazas and gardens.

Lee Whiteman

This was an urban design project set within a complex existing urban block site in Brighton's historic city centre. The project asked for the development of a Mediateque building, complimented with commercial space and a housing component.

Lee's scheme was initiated by the concept of 'networked' cities and 'connected' cultural programmes. Initial site analysis drawings identify Brighton's current cultural sites, and to that the new Mediateque building is added.

The architectural vocabulary of this project was developed around the notion of urban routes - extended vertical walls stretch themselves across the site, creating a variety of linear spaces, both internal and external. The site was thus to be experienced as a series of urban narratives weaving across the urban block.

The Mediateque was designed to provide the main function of an Architectural Exhibition space, with the key space being that of an Architecture Cinema. The architecture and programme were thus merged into one powerful concept: Architecture as a an Experience of Space in Time.

Although Lee's initial approach was form driven, he then went on to develop a real project, which works both at an urban and building level. The planning was both functional and spatially exciting.

Lee's project showed a consistency in development, from concept right through to realisation - the key ideas were maintained throughout. His ability to work with three dimensional form, and to make it into architecture, showed him to be a remarkably mature architect at his stage of studies.

Lee's commitment to his work, his skill to be a conceptual thinker, creative designer and a practical maker showed that he has a particular talent for architecture and that he is likely to achieve a great deal more in the future.


• Page Hits: 9239         • Entry Date: 20 July 2010         • Last Update: 01 September 2010