2011 International Design Exchange Project, Hidden Space Project. Volume 2, Urban rooftops

Newman, Kaye, Harris, Janette, Park, Young Tae, Kim, Hong Ki and Kim, Suk Young (2011) 2011 International Design Exchange Project, Hidden Space Project. Volume 2, Urban rooftops. Hidden Space: International Design Exchange, 2 . Total Design, Seoul, Korea. ISBN 97889855507776


Urban Rooftops:
Our cities are now having to rethink and redevelop the use of space more creatively and ingeniously than ever before. Space is precious in any context but the extra pressure cities’ face with the ever growing need to accommodate increasing populations mean that every open area is now a new possibility for spatial development.

One of the most recent and fascinating trends is the use of rooftops. Their appeal lies in their surprise and undiscovered disposition. Their purpose might involve a large community or an individual but because of its elevated position, each journey to that roof space provides a chance for adventure. They are an addition to older established buildings but come with a new brief and therefore a new spirit, encouraging creativity and positive thinking, using a different energy.

The master planners and the local communities need to consider a more responsible composition of ideas to our urban and earthly needs. Sustainable energy use and material choice are to be rewarded but what of the function? Is just viewing the simple horizon above the rooftops function enough? relieving us of our daily stresses and seeing the city as sleeping giant or should we be industrious, striking balances of nature, pulling it back from disaster, giving space to synergistic projects.

The students were asked to design a Rooftop structure in a densely inhabited urban neighbourhood, namely Burbage House, Curtain Road, Shoreditch London E2.

The aim of this lofty structure or series of structures sets out to encourage, inspire a community or an individual to cultivate positive practices. The rooftop should connect and bond visually or through metaphor within its surrounding neighbourhood. The space should take account of the social and cultural diversity that resides close by.

Shoreditch is weave of close knit streets with its former industrial context provide an area for those that want to step out of the norm and the corporate, it’s place to imagine new business. Innovative creative houses have set up home using space imaginatively, sharing with like minded disciplines.

The narrowness of the streets encourages networking and enhances collective working practices. Warehouse constructions reveal their previous activity and function, reminding us of the busy people, the noise and the industry.

The buildings allow a maximum of light though to the interior, the detail in the window frames and brickwork show a sense of pride. The Interiors are simple and true the outer structure, revealing angles and curves. The space is unattractive to the Multi-national corporations, and as there is little capacity for charging large rents makes this area economically suitable for young and emerging practices to set up.

The rawness of the interior spaces, unadulterated by recent 20th century trends provide the perfect utilitarian and vacant habitat for the fresh ideas where pioneering and ground breaking professions materialize.

In some respects the rawness of such a landscape, its lack of conformity compares well with an open landscape. When standing on the roof looking across London, its openness and horizontal neutrality engenders a sense of calm and invigoration. Suddenly there are possibilities and scope for living positively. Hurried life slows down and London becomes picturesque. Novalis wrote ‘Everything seen from a distance becomes poetry :distant mountains, distant people, distant events. Everything become romantic’.

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