The Jordan Street Tin Sheds are unremarkable, unadorned, unapologetic low grade commercial architecture, and there-in lies their charm and potential. New radical, creative, selective and purposeful interventions would create a dynamic and progressive narrative when juxtaposed with this unflattered simplicity, giving the overall scheme a unique character and credibility with its intended audience. It is not enough to deliver functional space at the right price, against a backdrop of low demand and a contested ‘digital creative’ cake. The proposals must offer something unique and uncontestable, they must excite people, seduce, advocate, embrangle, stimulate and charm. They must create a desire to ‘associate’ and credibility by proxy for potential end users. A uniform facelift for the Tin Sheds may well fall between existing ‘rough and ready charm’ and aspirational ‘architecture of high quality’. Our inclination would be towards high quality interventions in a raw and ready environment, retaining the industrial qualities and redefining these with radical interventions in sync with an area wide mixed economy of creative, industrious and pioneering uses. Precedents for this marriage of radical design and perfunctory space abound in the most active, fashionable and transitional areas of major cities.
The Tin Sheds’ simple clear span A frame volumes will use modular, prefabricated and demountable ‘components’ to enable new uses while retaining the flexibility to reconfigure the space to suit changing needs or new uses. A cellular response, dividing the spaces up using new walls becomes a static proposition - a pop-up, fold-down, drive-thru approach could utilising prefab plug-and-play toilet, kitchenette, office or meeting rooms, demountable warehouse decking, containers or pallets in a functional, contextual and flexible response. UN Case Study: MPV (middle) in Leeds used modular steel pods, fabricated by Merseyside shipbuilders and delivered to site on low-loaders. Low cost materials and processes and conventional construction can deliver highly competitive procurement, lateral thinking, hard work and ingenuity can deliver the added value, added functionality, vitality and innovation. UN Case Study: Toxteth TV project (top), clad in bin-end bricks and reclaimed joists, used hook, crook, sweat and tears (mostly ours) to deliver fully fitted community managed workspace, classrooms, recording and film studios for £56ft2 GIA within a 9 month construction programme.
Selective low-cost animation, annotation and subversion of frontages, roofscapes and streetscapes can create a ‘we have arrived’, ‘we are here to stay’ and ‘we are inspired’ message. The need to signpost and animate can coalesce into installational solutions, simultaneously functional, sculptural and inspirational, simultaneously art, architecture and identity. UN Case Study: Our proposals for reinvigorating FACT (bottom) involve the introduction of eleven 3m x 3m x 3m FACT Cubes, physical manifestations of the FACT brand and ethos. Interactive cubes act as portals into the building and galleries and as information points, cubes are stacked on the roof as a building marker and digital mast, a ‘viral’ cube travels to playgrounds in Dingle and biennials in Shanghai relaying real-time content as part of FACTs outreach and awareness building activity.