This is the second in a series of guest blogs from Stephen Foley, architect with Mangera Yvars Architects
A short talk on the importance of religious buildings in the development of contemporary architecture was led by Jose Acosta from Mangera Yvars architects set the scene for another productive day.
Building on the success of the previous workshop the students were then introduced to the next exercise which dealt with the problem of scale as well as the challenges from the week before.
The students were divided into five groups and each one was given a model figure at 1:50, 1:100 and 1:200 and a 20cm x 20cm square foam board base. The students quickly realised that the structures from the previous workshop could become architecture as soon as a person is put inside and the scale can be established. The base gave them a limit to the size of their design as well as a foundation for their model.
The brief was to produce a conceptual model for a multifaith space, this time intentionally choosing one or more architectural elements from their visits and using this as their inspiration. The students had to produce their model during the workshop and the resulting models were judged ‘good to excellent’ by Stephen and Jose.
Group 1 took inspiration from the pointed arch shapes they found both in the structural arches of the Anglican church and on the prayer mats at the West London Islamic Centre. They put the photos from their research and pasted them directly on the model producing an incredibly clear conceptual model.
Group 2 couldn’t agree on a clear direction but took the first step by pasting a large buddha representation onto the base and then arching strips of card over it from which they hung buddhist symbols. A small card handrail separated the iconography from the transitable space where they placed their model figure.
Group 3 took to the task with incredible efficiency and within half an hour had already produced prototypes of a swirling structure inspired by carvings found at a temple which they had visited. They then applied scripts from the different languages found on Holy books from different religions which danced around their model figure. The esthetic appeal of their model as well as its relevance to the project was impressive.
Group 4 had difficulty with the exercise. Their random decisions were interesting but probably needed more time than was given in order to develop them. They created an outdoor enclosure with a triangulated structure and a stage made out of the outline of faith buildings from the Making Suburban Faith logo to which they added the international sign of peace.
Group 5 took a bold decision from the outset to create a universal faith space which would be accessible to all members of the community. The result was closer to the ancient buildings of Athens or Rome rather than the faith buildings of Ealing but the strong conceptual approach to the brief was appreciated.