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A Beautiful Box?

Part 1 Project 2012
Martyn Webb
University of Portsmouth | UK
'A Beautiful Box?': the title of the project, where the aim was to create a Sports Centre in Tanner Street Park, Bermondsey, London. Prior to introduction of the site, volumetric, skin and environmental studies were carried out through sectional and massing models. This was the aim: Developing an integrated building around structure, skin and environmental considerations.

My concept was to separate both the Sports Hall from the rest of the ancillary spaces creating a public route and then connect the spaces back in a creative way via a first floor and underground connection. I opened up three routes: the east, west and south. These help to pedestrianise the area by connecting a string of green spaces in and around Bermondsey, potentially deeming the facility a node within an urban framework.

The immediate site comprises of highly elevated apartment buildings. The park surrounding the site flourishes with trees which I retained for the organic identity of the area.

The idea was to create 'floating' box-shaped spaces that sit on top of each other mimicking a light-on-heavy parti. They also help with the environmental solution by creating a balance between light envelopes and thermal mass.

I matured my scheme by developing the narrative of the first exercises helping to reinforce the poetics of my concept; I used a series of environmental strategies such as a Twin-Skin system that delivers warm and cool air through perforated-ply panels into the temperature-sensitive sports hall - they also double up as an acoustic solution. The structure is a three-way spanning spaceframe which has excellent acoustic properties as well as creating an elegant rhythmic light-framed structure.

The partial submergence of the main hall creates opportunities by using rammed earth to create ecological mounds from the western access points. These act as green areas of respite for people as they venture through the route. The intention was to design not just a Sports Hall, but a place of community, capturing a wider audience. Ultimately, the detailed development of the assignment fed back into my concept: the idea of layering materials over the spaceframe to create a environmental strategy.

Martyn Webb


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