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The Fluid High Street

Part 1 Project 2014
Danyal Ali
Birmingham City University, UK
The Fluid High Street is a response to the prevailing social, cultural and economic conditions of the suburban district of Chelmsley Wood inspired by the socioeconomic framework of a traditional British High Street. The project looks to provide an alternative to suburban town centre developments influenced by Andrea Branzi’s theoretical essays on a weak and diffused modernity.

Branzi discusses the need for re-designing our cities to be readily adaptable, traversable and flexible in both form and function. This is required so that the social, cultural and economic frameworks of modern society, which are integrated into our built environment, can continue to benefit people even after the form and function of our built surroundings is altered.

The scheme is comprised of two key elements, the retail modules and the headquarters. The headquarter houses the Administration, Finance and Logistics offices of the High Street, the whole scheme is under one managerial umbrella. It also houses a Design and Fabrication facility where the modules are made. The modules house various independent retail and service businesses that are deployed in clusters across neighbourhoods forming high streets.

Both the modules and headquarters are based on a modular design. The modules are based on a 3 m x 3m steel base unit that can be multiplied to achieve required floor space. Each component within the base unit is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble. The structural system used in the modules is also used to form the office units within the headquarters. The roof of the headquarters is the main architectural and visual statement of the design. It spans 30.3 meters and is 90.3 meters long. It provides a column free central core for the fabrication facility. Like the rest of the scheme the roof is also designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble. This is achieved through 6 uniquely designed steel joints that connect the various steel members together forming the roof structure. The steel members are in-filled with inflatable ETFE bubbles that allow plenty of light into the workshop space as well as regulating air temperatures within the vast volume.

Danyal Ali


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