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Urban Blocks 2

Part 1 Project 2010
Natalie Sansome
University of Portsmouth, UK
The chosen site in Brighton’s cultural quarter requires a mixed use urban block, incorporating public space, a Mediatheque, residential accommodation and commercial outlet.

Through urban massing I have addressed the site specific design constraints and explored ways to convey the coherent, specific architectural idea of placemaking.

My first strategy was to create site access from all four of its frontage facades, allowing new routes and pedestrian movement to open up. Once access routes were established I was able to apply contextual urban analysis, and through a series of urban massing exercises, make informed decisions on the relationship between building and open space. A link between the two realms has been introduced to the scheme by way of a vertical landmark, creating interest, awareness and ultimately increased use of the site. This also serves the predominant public square, allowing interaction into the space at multiple levels.

The quality of space created and the experience of the user were a driving force behind my design, a strategy whereby a series of public spaces; the sites ‘internal streets’ lead to the main public square, creating a journey over a series of thresholds. The thresholds are defined by a series of stone planes, which also create the beginnings of the building forms. This proposal addresses the different urban typologies to the north and the south of the site, brining together the traditional 19th Century ‘gridded’ residential housing, and the Lanes; where the space is defined by building form.

I chose to use traditional materials true to their form including stone walls creating, strengthening and defining spaces. The transparency of my public building complementing the library, contrasts that of the softer timber residential housing. Each residential unit is flexible, meeting the needs of the occupier, yet based along a module; creating a sense of belonging to the wider community.

The main entrance of the Mediatheque becomes part of the main square, creating a series of interior, semi interior and exterior space, all within the public realm. This presents a stage to the main square, animating the urban block for residents, the community and visitors.

Natalie Sansome


Natalie’s project sits in the heart of the cultural quarter of Brighton, which is centred on the Royal Pavilion, the Dome arts complex, historic Theatre Royal and Jubilee library. It is positioned within the popular North Laine area and is almost due north of the extant pier being about 600m distant from the sea. The brief consisted of the creation of a succession of public spaces, a Mediathèque - which should be complimentary to the existing library – and other uses such as commerce and housing.

Her proposal dealt with the problem of rethinking the idea of urban block at an epistemological level, but also and foremost, presents itself as a response to the location and specific needs of the site. Natalie’s sensibility to place making and the project’s careful and balanced consideration of the relation between buildings and open spaces are outstanding. This sensibility is also expressed through her drawings, which demonstrate how she sees the promotion of urban life and the quality of design necessarily as interrelated entities.

To conclude, Natalie’s work delves beautifully well into the realm of place making. Not only is it extremely considerate to the physical qualities of the spaces created, but also demonstrates an in-depth attention to the citizen’s experience.

Fabiano Lemes
Kate Baker

Tutor(s)

Ms Kate Baker
2010
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