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Studio Mechanica

Part 1 Project 2012
Jonathan Wilson
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham UK
‘Studio Mechanica’ confronts a collapsed lace industry and human interaction with spatial mechanics, while challenging a heavily historic urban topography. Buried within the depths of Nottingham’s Lace Market, this project proposes a studio space for remaining freelance lace artists, which have become the heart of a forgotten trade. Addressing a brief that questions perspectives of a heterotopia, 10 Short Hill houses a site which was once an active lace factory woven into the movement of the industry, but has now fallen to the whims of natural and social decay.

Inspired by critical deconstructivist thought, the mechanical nature of the structure was drawn from the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th century, as well as human interaction with the machines that dictated and characterised the spaces of work. Creating a thoughtful and reminiscent combination of old and new structures, the site presented an immediate appeal and allowed an adoption of a historical fabric and frontage onto the Lace Market cliff: a movement which provided a much needed linear and vertical disposition to emphasise the fluidity of the internal spaces and operations of the skin mechanisms.

There is an intriguing temporality behind the boundaries and their response to time, both historically and daily; and a respiratory character to the density of the space that inspired much of the movement of the structure. From a series of arms penetrating the north frontage that deal with the dual-layered entrance to the site and unlock the service entrance, to a driveshaft which unfolds an extension to a south-facing studio space.

This approach to man-powered machines is a bold response to sustainability; combining several natural strategies of stack ventilation, light wells and drainage which optimises low energy consumption. The material selection is drawn strongly from the industrial nature, using reclaimed steel alongside existing brickwork to minimise emissions throughout construction, as well as efficiently robust cladding including rainscreen.

Challenging human perception of spaces and boundaries, both internal and external, this mechanical studio revives the vibrancy of a once thriving industry, and weaves together an educational thread with working spaces that unlock an intrigue behind traditional factories.

Jonathan Wilson


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