BA (Hons) Architecture | Third Year | 1,000 Trades Studio (Individual)
Heirs of Time is an architectural thesis that explores how the memories of local communities could be archived, restored, and recollected through the apparatus of the heirloom. This thesis explores key themes of time, memory, depth, and transformation. Following research and investigation into the transformations of a Birmingham high street, the heirloom became a physical manifestation of the built environment.
Programmatically, underground spaces have been developed to represent long-term, consolidated memories that are not so regularly recollected, functioning as archives and experience rooms. The over ground spaces are instead public facing to represent short-term memories, those that are regularly made and forgotten.
The exterior form of the proposal was designed to be a landmark within the community, one that would be static over time, much like the historic buildings adjacent, with transformational elements being experienced internally.
The longitudinal perspective section explores the resolved functional brief and the range of function within the proposal. A key defining feature here is the light void which takes precedent from Steven Holl’s Seona Reid building, and extends the entire vertical depth of the proposal to provide a passive daylighting strategy for the underground spaces.
The Projection Room is the assembly hall space, designed for informal communal congregation. Its form has been designed as an ‘architectural sundial’ which creates shadows that transform throughout the day. In doing do, the space creates an experience for visitors to understand prehistoric perceptions of time, which was based on communal congregation and quality of light. The architectural sundial creates a distortion in the projections, highlighting the link between time and memory- as the day passes into evening the shadows fade and the projections become clearer.
The Museum of Lost & Forgotten Heirlooms is a space for heirlooms to reside and be exhibited once their memories and meanings have been lost or forgotten. The museum provides an opportunity for these objects to be enjoyed and a glimpse into the past of the local community.
The Experience Rooms are located underground and have been designed to create tailored sensory experiences for visitors and small groups to reminisce and recollect memories. Memory recollection would be encouraged using of projections, sounds, smells and heirlooms. This space would also be used as part of a treatment plan for dementia patients, with the regularity of visits avoiding disorientation and the journey to the underground acting as a transition to a time that they remember most vividly.
The final proposal for Heirs of Time was first developed through the interior spaces. This conceptual development diagram explores all of the key spaces integrated and developed throughout the project.
During design exploration, I found particular interest in investigating the community and the buildings that were used most. From this, I identified historic and religious buildings to be static anchor points within the community and high street. These sketches at street level started to investigate the contrasts between the cyclic, modern shop fronts and the static historic buildings. N.J. Habraken’s “Structure of the Ordinary,” (2000) was a key precedent in explaining that the cyclic and static transformations of the high street, as explored through design exploration, signified a living, organic built environment that would be passed down through generations and retain a consistent identity. In this respect, the static physical properties and changing memories associated with heirlooms offered a means to blur the division between the tangible and the intangible.
The integration of passivhaus principles as a means to achieve limited operational and embodied carbon were key considerations throughout. To further this, passive environmental strategies were optimised where possible to reduce operational energy demand.