Edinburgh College of Art’s interior design students imagine cultural centres for their city
In this school show, Edinburgh College of Art students are presenting 10 interiors projects for public and community spaces, from an archive chronicling Scotland’s black diaspora to a hybrid day and nightclub.
Created by a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students, the concepts adapt existing and historical buildings in Edinburgh for new uses, in a bid to create interiors that are sensitive to their context.
Edinburgh College of Art
“The interior design programmes at ECA use real buildings and spaces as testbeds for the adaption and evolution of interior, architectural and spatial design ideas. Under the Interior Lab initiative, staff and students share research knowledge to develop their own individual response to the discipline, benefitting from the international cohort’s varied experiences and approaches.
“Further work of the students can be found at ECA’s digital exhibition Summer 2020.
“Through self-generated briefs for their projects, our 10 graduates have proposed designs including an Astronomy Centre within a light-polluted city centre and a Black Cultural Archive and Legacy Centre for Scotland.”
The Island of Knowledge by Alkistis Brountzou, MA
“The Island of Knowledge is an open, public space inside the Freemasons Hall for sharing knowledge and learning, which explores the spatial intersections of the physical and the digital world.
“Inside the main hall, or ‘nest’, new hybrid experiences are generated by utilising new technologies such as augmented reality inside of an expanded cinema, various multilayered exhibitions and lecture halls.
“The intervention’s form emphatically symbolises the contradiction between the diachronic character of the space formations and the extremely changeable digital content, suggesting that the physical and digital, materiality and immateriality are interwoven by their contradictions.”
Freemasons Hall by Gillian Kavanagh, MA
“My master’s thesis focuses on the intersection between interior architecture and conservation. The design briefs I devised for the Freemasons Hall in Edinburgh challenge the idea of a historic institution in the modern world and question how interiors can be ‘re-programmed’ to revitalise the institution’s appeal.
“To represent these ideas, I explored experimental mixed media drawing methods including collage, watercolour sketching and video studies. Adaptive conservation aids the longevity of buildings, which is the principal ambition of my work. The layering of materials, decoration and human narratives significantly influences my approach to the conservation of interior architecture.”
Viaticus by Mari Nasif, MA
“Inspired by the idea of Masonic degrees, the brief re-imagines the Freemasons’ journey towards knowledge and translates this into spatial settings based on the learning domains proposed by Benjamin Bloom.
“The proposal, broadly defined as a philosophy library, occupies the voids inside of an existing staircase volume. Its verticality mirrors Bloom’s hierarchical learning model where higher levels house more complex learning. Each degree is uniquely designed to activate the senses and help individuals resolve the cognitive challenges along the journey to mastery.”
Pixelbox by Sher Ming Foo, MA
“Pixelbox is a site-specific, transitional intervention designed as part of the museum in the Freemason Hall, Edinburgh. The lattice layout is an extrapolation of the building’s existing design, with the addition of modern elements to create a new design language.
“The white, stainless steel structure seamlessly integrates furniture design and interior architecture, reducing the boundaries between the insertion and the existing building. Its location allows for the existing use of the Grand Hall to continue while welcoming visitors to the building.”
The Ar/ba/Son Market by Sinead Russell, MA
“Personality is a big driving force in my work. I believe in curating and invoking a unique soul within the core of every project. I draw a lot of inspiration from researching and conceptualising how these projects may look and feel if they were people. I focus on creating a story and with every detail hope to add to that narration.
“Recently, my work has begun to focus its attention on artisans and craft, and specifically on the promotion of local makers. This project explores how their work can be incorporated within my designs to inspire a new appreciation for craft makers at a larger scale.”
The Third Place by Hollie Middleton, BA
“Like many UK cities, Edinburgh has seen soaring rents, an influx of Airbnbs and the perennial construction of student accommodation in the past decade. A little-known casualty of these private developments is Edinburgh’s post-war architecture, which is overlooked in favour of maintaining the city’s Georgian heritage.
“The Third Place is a Scottish architecture archive dedicated to preserving the history of undervalued post-war buildings and supporting local communities in challenging the homogenisation of Edinburgh’s urban landscape. Black steel frames demarcate contemporary insertions while complimenting the existing lines of the 1960s building. Sculptural concrete forms echo iconic Scottish post-war structures.”
Black Cultural Archive and Legacy Centre of Scotland by Aaliyah Oshodi, BA
“This project establishes a Black Cultural Archive and Legacy Centre of Scotland. Archives are necessary to preserve the work of marginalised people but they are often overly clinical. That’s why I wanted to create a space which is colourful and warm and where the lives and stories of the Black diaspora across Scotland can be collected and preserved.
“I created a series of interior spaces that facilitate oral storytelling. Inspired by the Adinkra stamped cloths of Ghana and the kanga garments of Kenya, I was able to design textiles and wallcoverings that can act as catalysts for conversation.”
Scottish Literature Centre by Jiawen Zhang, BA
“This project aims to create a new literature centre for the city of Edinburgh. It hopes to connect and provide a central hub for all of the existing architectural spaces on the literary trail in Edinburgh Old Town.
“This interior proposal for the Tron Kirk church provides a central, easily accessible location for promoting local literature by providing spaces for interaction between local writers and literary tourists.”
Wax Lyrical by Bethany Harle, BA
“I am interested in how interior spaces can shape our wellbeing and behaviour. Alongside the alarming rate at which UK nightclubs are closing, this guided my graduate project. Called Wax Lyrical, this day and nightclub consists of five venues that focus on different aspects of nightlife culture: drinking, drugs, sex, dance and music.
“The design concept aims to reduce the risks to the physical and mental health of visitors, which are usually heightened within these environments. Informed by the experimental interiors of 1970s disco clubs, the spaces hope to create a healthy escape.”
The Astronomy Culture Centre by Echo Zhu, BA
“The Astronomy Culture Centre is designed as an interior ‘station’, where the public can engage with sky events and explore the world above with interactive galleries and simulation technology, despite the light-polluted skies of Edinburgh. It helps visitors to investigate and understand our role in the universe and ultimately care about the future of humanity.
“The design strategy revolves around gravity, the dominant force in the universe, which is closely related to the birth of life on earth. This theoretical underpinning is integrated into the design in the form of flow routes to encourage experiencing and pursuing activities within the designed interior environment.”
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