Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Musical Retreat

My new project brief for this term is to design a musical retreat in Glenluce, Dumfries & Galloway in the south of Scotland, on a site adjacent to the ruins of the old Glenluce Abbey.
It is meant to be a building which offers a "sanctuary" for twelve young musicians and three resident musicians who run the retreat. Seeing as the main aspect of third year is to become aware of environmentally friendly strategies, the site for the retreat is very remote and does not have access to any electricity grid, meaning it needs to be completely self sustaining in terms of heating, lighting, ventilation etc. A pretty "daunting task" as my tutors like to call it, but very interesting and completely in tune with my aspirations as an architect! Of course, also, telling me to design a musical retreat is like sticking a big, fat lollypop into my mouth, seeing as i once was an aspiring violinist (hehe) who used to go to orchestra camps in the summer time. I should pick it up again, considering my knowledge of the violin is pretty much limited to the level of this:

Also, the fact that I did my summer project on sounds is quite appropriate!

In school we are underway with a lecture series with the title "retreat", looking at monasteries, churches etc, and also spas, hotels and the like. Today's lecture was on the "retreat as workspace", and we did a little historic tour of the working spaces of Le Corbusier, Heidegger and George Bernard Shaw. So far, it seems that a huge part of "retreating" is spending time in a pretty austere environment - monasteries and little huts in the mountains. I am quite interested in hearing your thoughts on retreat!
Also, the activities that happen in this building give a lot of meaning to the theme of retreat, seeing as the making and playing of music is definitely quite a sanctuary in its own right.

MANY challenges are coming my way though, in terms of technical strategies for a completely self sustaining building. I intend to start the project with the environmental issues safely planted in my head before i dive into the pool of options of forms and "stylistic language". I was thinking maybe you guys have some keen opinions on sustainability and building that you might want to share with me!

I'll end this post with a picture from one of my favorite buildings, the Mortensrud Church in Oslo by Jensen and Skodvin. Designed within a very strict budget, but so beautiful! This will definitely be one of my major inspirations for this project:

Please share your thoughts on a Sustainable Retreat!


Shane said...

that church is so beautiful! i don't know much about sustainability and buildings, but my only opinion is that there should be a vegetable garden there, so that the food can be harvested onsite! is this post my friend wrote about burning man relevant?
that is more city planning, but still... actually, adam used to read this blog so i should tell him to read it again and tell you what he thinks, because this is kind of his favorite area.
NEXT POST: Athena!

Brock said...

shane's right... this is my favorite area. my advice is to familiarize yourself with the site as much as you can before you even think about forms or technologies. just walk around, listen, observe without intention for a while. then ask some of these questions:

- What is the ecosystem like? what wants to grow there?
- What are the max/min temps? Pre/post global warming?
- How large is the watershed? how much rain falls per year? how does it circulate around the site?
- What is the soil like (clay, silt, sand, etc)?
- What were the local building methods before fossil fuels?

only once you really really really know the site will a design emerge that begins to make sense there. in fact, if you do your research right, the building should seem to design itself based on the constraints of the site and client.

that's my advice, for what it's worth. good luck!

Sofie said...

Thank you very much Brock! or is it Adam?
maybe both!
Actually, on Tuesday we went to the site and we just spent hours there, first doing our own "recordings" on sound, smell, routes, soil, boundaries, wind, sun etc, then doing group recordings of a specific theme, mine being wind. today we had reviews of these group projects and it was very interesting to listen and absorb the findings that other people made, to compare and contrast my own. I will definitely be spending a lot of time analyzing before i head into designing!
Thank you very much for your input!

Else said...

oh my, your brief sounds so interesting, and I envy you for doing practical things!! Right now I'm in a phase where I don't feel I can use my academics for nothing. Ay ay.. I guess it's just the exam stress and the lack of knowledge about opportunities. I don't know if you know - but I'm studying comparative politics (I have changed around a bit...). Wish I could listen to sounds in scotland with you!