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Druridge Bay Astronomical Retreat

Part 1 Project 2014
Alex Kitching
Northumbria University, UK
The project intends to provoke thought and create lasting memories in a society which is becoming increasingly prescribed and disjointed, an experimental escape from the mundanes of ordinary life. Using what already exists, community + curiosity, to create an atmosphere which, in its simplicity, becomes substantially relevant to our current 21st century lifestyle.

The scheme captures the essence of the bay and accentuates it’s raw nature. Communal fire pits encourage strangers to interact whilst cooking and eating, a sunken and enclosed courtyard provides a protected public space that can be used any time of the year, day or night – a shelter against the prevailing winds that dictate the coastline.

The journey taken by the visitor is a fundamental aspect of the scheme, from the ex-open cast mine now known as Ladyburn Lake, through the fragmented landscape to the sea, a constant connection with water brings together the different environments and provides the existing country park with a more structured plan allowing wildlife to blemish and developments to go ahead in equilibrium.

From the quiet and calm nature of the lakeside to the bleak conditions of the coast, the architectural language is influenced by it’s immediate context. Moving past the accommodation houses along the cycleway and emerging from the forest, the visitor is exposed to the conditions of the bay until enclosed within the elliptical courtyard which acts as an external bunker, defensive against the coastline, referencing the historic remains of old WW2 structures along the beach.

Surrounded by vertical markers, the visitor is encouraged to look up to the heavens before embarking on a journey through the sunken pathway through the dunes. The path restricts views to the sky only and creates suspense as the elevated masses tower above. The journey inclines and the visitor takes a vertical path up towards the final viewing point. Once the summit is reached, the universe is revealed through a hand-powered mechanical aperture, adding to the interactive nature of the building and enhancing the experiential qualities of a visit to Druridge Bay Astronomical Retreat.

Alex Kitching

Tutor(s)
Mr Peter Holgate
2014
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