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Museum of Architectural History in Ramsgate

Part 1 Project 2012
Firas Saad
University of Kent Canterbury UK

For me, the design of an architectural museum in the urban locale of Ramsgate posed an articulate brief. As a resident of Ramsgate and a student of architecture I maintain a vast familiarity with the town. Personal experience suggests the town is in an anxious state. Exemplified by the streetscape of the highstreet, which is scattered with unmaintained buildings and boarded up shop fronts, this state depicts closure and imprisonment. With these thoughts in mind and in an attempt to directly answer the brief of displaying architectural fragments, Piranesi’s influence became the forefront of my narrative, particularly the Carceri etchings of fantastical prisons.

Design influences were imbued through rigorous analysis of Piranesi’s Carceri etchings and their influence upon modern architecture. The museum’s design evolved from my interpretation of the Piranesi’s Carceri compositions and spatial configurations. From here, I organised my building form into two components: simple and complex. The simple houses the public domain which can be accessed separately from the museum galleries. The complex mainly houses the museum galleries, workshops and exhibitions. The division of simple and complex elements stemmed from my analysis of the Carceri. Compositionally, the etchings appeared to be dominated by a large tower of simple form rising in the centre of their images with smaller more complex structures extruding from it. The separation of simple and complex was contextualised and defined the building organisation. The simple public domain adhered to the immediate urban fabric of Ramsgate, whereas the complex museum tower became disinterested by its lines of composition; in the form of the urban grain.

Sequential movement through the diversity of spaces within my museum form a labyrinth of space, evoked both in plan and in perspective. Akin to the labyrinthine spaces within the Carceri the volumes of spaces contrast in their shadow, scale and liberation. The sequence of spaces in my museum design attempt to adhere to ‘Piranesi’s clue’; from within the exhibits the visitor feels imprisoned by the architectural fragments on display until they are didactically released and emerge across the vast atrium tower where they arrive at workshops teaching architectural representation.



Firas Saad

Tutor(s)
Dr Gerald Adler
2012
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