The School of Recycling & Experimental Building
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bronze Medal shortlist; 2014.
Hadleigh - close-up rear elevation
Most works of architecture are considered to be ‘finished’ upon the completion of building works. This however does not take into account issues of mobility and adaptability which are prerequisites for sustainability in a constantly changing environment. The concept of Recycling, which involves occupation, subsequent alterations, decoration and personalisation by users are key considerations for a building’s prolonged existence. Hence the ideas of spatial evolution and modification should be prioritised over demolition and ruin. This is especially important in London where land scarcity necessitates the need to deliver reusable spaces.
The interest in recycling, building materials and flexible spaces are explored in the School of Recycling and Experimental Building, located in Camden Market. This site has been chosen for its strong relations to trading. The proposed scheme presents a six-stage programme, which sees the School as an educational platform that celebrates the notion of a recycling facility. The design proposal is composed around the notion of an ephemeral versus a permanent architecture.
The School expands on the idea of a bazaar which records the surrounding activities in order to establish the development of future spatial requirements and programs. One key feature of the School is the Breaking Chamber, which is designed as an allegorical crane. This structure is placed in the middle of the proposal and is responsible for dismantling and reassembling the recycled construction materials. By accommodating the disassembling process and by re-considering the boundaries between private and public space, the historically rich Gilbey’s Bond will function dually as a theatre. This labyrinth of habitable spaces accommodates the construction courses in the School which include architectural workshops for material experimentation, galleries of recycled objects and the temporary depository.
By enhancing the apparent layered and multi-faceted qualities of the existing site, the project is a design for disassembly and celebrates ideas of change and future adaptability for an improved built environment. The building platform is continuously shifting and adapting to new conditions, and the potential for new spaces and use are integral to the architecture.