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The Margate School of Art

Part 2 Project 2010
Pier-Luigi del Renzio
University of Kent Canterbury UK
The Margate School of Art is a modern re-interpretation of a traditional school of art providing students from age 17 upwards with a preliminary course in art, centred around creative learning and physical engagement with core skills and values of traditional artistic training in a thoroughly neutral setting:
Painting, Drawing, History of Art, Photography, Printmaking, Metalwork, Woodwork and Ceramics. Site: To begin with, it stands at Margate's town’s centre, between Cecil Square, a large civic space to the South and the historic Old Town below, to the North. New Street runs from East to West along this northern boundary. It's a magical position which engages frontages to and from the High Street, Cecil Square and New Street - Representing three cultural quarters: retail, civic and the arts. The site acts as mediator, channelling and connecting the school and the pedestrian. At a height of three storeys a panorama stretching east to west over the old town can be enjoyed.
Concept: ‘Mediating Machine’ – inflicts the school of art with an intrinsic social role, interconnecting the vibrant public edge conditions of the site, generating routes, dynamic spaces and visual connections to its communal artistic centre, the gallery and sculpture garden - whereby the school is able to engage the public directly. The school will strengthen current arts and culture based regeneration.
Key Ideas: Permeability - open edges, a boulevard, central social / exhibition area and sculpture garden inter-weaves the school with its social context. A certain 'adjustable kinetic nature' permeates the school. Elevated Space - the imposing studio box hovers above the dynamic ground plane generating a hierarchical ‘in-balance’, allowing the school to welcome and not deter the public as well as retain the practicalities of teaching spaces. The studio box is carried upon two supporting boxes containing the student shop, administration, toilets and library. Hinge - conflicting geometries of the studio box and sculpture block are absorbed by a ‘hinge’, a circular staircase disperses the irregularities of the site’s bi-axial geometry.

Pier-Luigi del Renzio

Our nominee’s Major Design Project in Stage 5 is for an Art School on a difficult site in Margate town centre, created by the hypothetical demolition of the old decommissioned Mark’s and Spenser’s store, most recently the temporary ancillary venue for the Turner Contemporary.

The resultant void we are asked to speculate on opens links between a once grand civic square with late-brutalist council offices diagonally opposite, towards the upper reaches of the High Street to survive pedestrianisation elsewhere. To the north the site tumbles towards Margate ‘Old Town’ below with views at roof level across the tiled roof-scape of Old Town boarder the sea.

Exhaustive research into all strands of context was drawn upon to suggest, inform and develop the proposal for a new Art School. Our nominee’s work is always highly personalised, full of wonder, and very, very obsessive. But it stands apart from the current formulae of architectural projects in Schools and is a triumph of content over style.


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