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Part 2 Project 2010
Hassan Nourbakhsh
London South Bank University London UK
In treating the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool’s Edge Hill, the sense of an alternate reality constructed beneath and adjacent to the main line railway became very strong. Considering the proposition posed by the Polyark ll project (a strategy for the revival of the UK’s railway backlands), I decided to focus on the parallel motives Williamson may have entertained when instructing his ex-military task force to start digging…

Imagine you are stranded in a desert for a long period of time without food or water. In despair your mind starts to envisage things that are not really there, thereby creating a sense of illusion, a mirage. And all this with the purpose of keeping you alive. In the same way not all illusions are positive, some lead to despair where the sense of hope is lost. However my focus here is on the positive form of illusion.

I believe our daily lives are a reflection of this same concept. In society we are constantly in search of change and a sense of fulfilment, therefore we create images and idols to satisfy that feeling of loneliness and lack of purpose. Going back through history we have always been searching for new land, and new things to better our environment. Artists have always had beneficial ideas for their environments and surroundings, offering simple everyday things to beautify and better people's lives, using imagination and creativity. The purpose of an architect is to use tools like mathematics, geometry, and physics combined with the artist's imagination and creativity to capture the essence of reality and beauty. But that wasn't sufficient; artefacts became normal and repetitive which is where the concept of creating illusion becomes important.

People live between two extremities; illusion and reality. If you incline most towards illusion, the sense of reality is non-existent, you live in a world of infinite possibilities creating a feeling of detachment from normal surroundings. Mental issues may arise, such as schizophrenia. If you are attracted to the other extremity (reality), you do not perceive life as beautiful and wonderful as you believe it to be; this creates depression where you don't feel accepted in society. The cure for this is a readjustment in your place between illusion and reality. My project uses an illusionistic architecture as a tool to form emotional comfort for everyday life by drawing people away from their reality. Our reality is ultimately something we create for ourselves.

Hassan Nourbakhsh

The scheme is a commentary both on the bizarre circumstances of the construction of the Williamson Tunnels (a project to provide work for servicemen returning from the Napoleonic Wars), and the current state of urbanism in Liverpool where the city is suspended between a remarkable industrial past and a partially gentrified future reflecting little of its real architectural and social identity.

Hassan has designed a remarkable piece of very solid architecture which simultaneously deals with the illusory nature of beauty, pleasure, and space. The project is technically demanding, and ambitious in its role as an urban marker and gathering place. In a deterministic environment such as Edge Hill, the use of architecture as a catalyst for social renewal and personal reinvention seems particularly well judged.

The project celebrates the arrival and departure of trains in Liverpool's central station when these are viewed through the optical filter critical to the ordering of the architecture. It provides focus and a sense of place to an unspecific and depressed inner city area, and reflects the 19th century pride in railway technology and the civil engineering innovation that made the development of the national rail network possible. Finally, through the layering of intricate geometries, the scheme revives and reflects the strong architectural statements made by the sandstone railway cuttings as these drive a path to Liverpool's centre, offering a new architectural focus visible to the city's people.


Ms Lilly Kudic
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