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The Robot Labyrinth of Castlefield

Part 1 Project 2014
Christia Angelidou
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
The project is based on the rhetorical argument that many of us are addicted to screens which can breed generations dependent on useless, throw-away, new discoveries which in turn result in a malfunctioning society – one which lacks morals and ethics. The chosen site for the project is one rich in industrial heritage - Castlefield, Manchester.

The project posed many questions. What if the disposed uselessness could be reclaimed to transform the site into a place for machinery and robotic production? What if a proposed ‘underground’ robot factory/network were to share this transformative energy with the public? What if the chaotic state of the disposed uselessness could be recycled to form well-oiled work places – such as a robot-producing factory with a logic of its own? What if a collaborative network could dynamically organize and reorganize around social issues and political actions, in turn disassembling and reassembling?

To address these questions, a dialect was formed. The thesis stated that the Factory spaces would operate like a robot and provide Power-To achieve desired ends. Their forms utilized the in-between spaces underneath the site’s Viaducts and were generated according to the flow of the production process. In order to camouflage and conceal them, the forms were clad with re-appropriated materials acquired from a partial demolition of the Viaducts.

The antithesis related to the Auditorium where social and political issues could be discussed; therefore looking into ideas of a solid, sculptural form representing Power-Over the site.

A synthesis brought the previous two extremes together under a large Canopy, supporting a Circulation Labyrinth with observation rooms. People could feed ideas into the process, thus Empowering the public to see a desire for power as positive and productive at a micro-political operational level.

The design contained built-in flexibility allowing development to occur in layers over time. This was achieved by using a modular super-structure - with a limited range of components - consequently allowing for the future re-appropriation of spaces. Taking into account the anticipated evolution of the user and assuming material needs in the future would be reduced, the formal and spatial scheme is thus, ever-changing.

Christia Angelidou


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