Large on-going construction of a cultural centre near Trondheim. This has given me the opportunity to experience late stages of a project and gain knowledge about building physics, working drawings, project management, technical building regulations, materials, collaboration with other architects and consultants, economy, etc.
The 11 500 m cultural centre’s programme includes a library, youth club, music- and band practice facilities, “Newton” science teaching space, large theatre, chamber hall, cinema theaters, cafe, offices and church. The project is due to be completed in autumn 2015.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
Fire-escape regulations – focused on an exceptional condition of circulation – can distract us from, even prohibit, more everyday concerns; the staircase of a public building, for instance - once its central social and symbolic feature - is today typically separated and compartmentalised, reduced materially and socially. The architecture of fire-escape, then, can be less than inviting. This studio, however, will contend that there is something inviting about escape.
It will ask students to explore the ‘invitation character’ of the built environment, contending that will regulation inscribes specific ‘affordances’ into building, inviting occupants to act. It will ask students to study escape, then, not to ensure life-preservation or legal compliance, but in order to develop an architecture of invitation.
Since its inception, theatres have afforded an expression of the city and its society. For the French bourgeoisie it became a place to see and be seen – and the architecture a manifestation of social stratification. Today, hundreds of years later, its remnants are still evident in the hierachical ‘grand staircase’ traditionally connecting the commoner’s stalls, the aristocrats’ dress circle, and ‘the gods’ (top gallery) for the poor.
The vehicle for the exploration of ‘invitation character’ is a re-visiting of the original brief for the re-modelling of the Empire Palace Theatre into Edinburgh Festival Theatre, home to the Scottish Ballet and Opera, and heart of the Edinburgh International Festival.
The re-modelling of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre propose to radically alter and extend the function of the auditorium to catalyst social equality and interaction. The audience is invited into the auditorium at earliest opportunity, while all adjoining spaces are void of visible circulation and lead back into the auditorium. Circulation from the lowest stalls to the highest galleries are provided within the theatre itself, making the auditorium into the grand staircase. The traditional hierarchy and stratification is replaced by an interconnected and non- hierarchical architecture of theatres.
A non-hierarchical auditorium
A ramp cuts across the auditorium several times and provides access to any part of the seating – each tier gradually rising with its incline towards the back. The ramp invites for walking and passing- by at the straight side near a wall, or stopping and sitting-down at the ragged side of the seats.
Each seat provides optimal views by rotating individually towards the centre stage. The oblique angle of the seatways in relation to the stage creates unexpected opportunities for social interaction both with adjacent seats and those on rows behind or in front. The rotation of each seat gradually alters the relation between armrests, as it turns increasingly towards the adjacent seat:
Side by side | Corners of armrests overlapping | Entirely parallel and connected | Back seat conflict with front armrest | Back seat partly behind front seat
Auditorium seating capacity: 1,915. Front of house: box office, cafe, hospitality rooms, bars, kitchen, cloak room and public toilets. Back of house: changing rooms, offices, green room, wardrobe, services, stage and backstage.
Public cuts and private shortcuts
The programme is separated between public facilities, back-of-house functions, and hospitality rooms. The public circulation cuts through the auditorium and provide access to seating and public functions. The diaphragm wall is perforated by public timber tunnels connecting the auditorium flights with adjacent floors.
A hidden network for egress
Service circulation and fire escape is concealed between existing solid brick walls providing practical access for staff and performs without interrupting the performance. Lined in fire-resistant charred timber, it’s dark character contrast with the abundant, diffused light of the public spaces.
Through thick and thin
Two existing, solid brick walls are extended to wrap completely around the auditorium. Within its void a hidden, private network of shortcuts provides staff and performers with efficient access without interrupting the performance. The alternate circulation simultanously accommodates safe egress in the event of a fire or emergency.
House for a Tapestry Weaver
The design of a private house must consider the assembly of spaces in relation to movement, activities and rituals, orientation, materials and thresholds. This ultimately influence the way in which people live. With a client working from home as a tapestry weaver, a public programme is introduced as well. The weaver requires a studio space to work and hold small workshops with visitors, and a gallery for displaying tapestries and meeting potential customers.
The facade towards the park is partly concealed by the existing hedge, thereby decreasing the buildings presence and impact on the site. The ground flloor and garden is not visible. Tilting and angular roofplanes give movement to the composition with south-facing strips of windows along the gallery ramp for reflected light setting.
The separation of living and working in two rectangular buildings was the starting point for the overall design. These thereby divided the site into several zones of access. The connection between was developed from various walkways and bridges, to a long ramp serving as gallery. A concept of weaving the circulation created impractical angles within rooms, which was resolved by loosening up the building envelope to refuse compromising the internal spaces.
By weaving the circulation through the house, all major spaces are assembled along a single path extending from the private access road, through bedrooms, living areas, gallery and studio, to the garden and public park. The sequence of spaces also resemble the activities of the weaver throughout a day. Vertical bars resembling the warp of a loom as a recurring motive will tie it together conceptually, at any point either holding up the path or supporting it from below.
The ground floor consists of private accomodation and the separate studio space, oriented to take advantage of daylight. Both have access to the back yard and a small terrace. The stair in the studio divides the weavers workspace fom teaching facilities, but with visual contact to the entrance. A spiral staircase leads to the first floor with kitchen, dining and living/gallery area. Views are provided over both the park and the back yard, and the gallery has large skylights overhead.
A single fllight of stairs provides access from the isolated studio building to the main house. Smaller tapestires can be displayed along the ramp, terminating in a main gallery and living space for larger ones. From the outside it is perceived as an “extermal” element of different material and angle from the rest of the house.
The backside of the building is sheltered by large trees and a high fence, allowing only an obscured view from the outside and complete privacy within the back yard. The walls shift at angles with the front facade, creating a “blocky” expression. This also responds to the plan of the adjacent row houses.
The threshold between the gallery and living accomodation is implied by a small change of level and a curtain wall. The thin vertical metal bars resemble the warp of a loom, subdividing the space. Exhibiting tapestries along the ramp and opening a small viewing niche halfway, combines it into both a path and a place.
Reiulf Ramstad Architects (2012 - present) > Large-scale projects during detail and construction phases > Competitions for schools and kindergartens > Editing publication of monograph ‟Selected works” > Design and development of new office website > Administrative responsibilities
The University of Edinburgh (2009-2012) > 3-year undergraduate degree: ‟Bachelor of Arts in Architecture” > Awarded qualification with Distinction
Awards: ‟Andrew Grant Bequest Scholarship 2012”, ‟Helen A. Rose Bequest Price 2012”, and ‟Andrew Grant Award 2010 for Architectural Design”.
Skills and expertise My level of knowledge in architectural and graphic design software is very high. I am often entirely self-taught, and usually the go-to-guy if a colleague or fellow student has problems.