Camridge, Spring 2008

Studio Instructors: David Hills, Sam Potter

Purcell Miller Tritton Prize

Cambridge’s Studio 3/3, named “age resistor”, was concerned with architecture’s response to an ageing population and the rethinking of urban planning in the face of a demographic shift. As a result of visiting the London-based Think Tank Demos to learn about their own research on ageing societies, I developed an interest in Think Tanks as a highly contemporary model of collaborative research and working methods. The scheme explored how spatial configuration and programme could allow Think Tanks to become publicly inclusive institutions and urban catalysts in their own right. The thinkhouse is designed as a multipurpose complex which combines housing for an audience of 65+ with a public library, a kindergarten, a Young Offenders Education Unit and a public Think Tank. The site, set by the brief, was an existing 1960s office block adjacent to Waterloo Station, which was to be at least partly kept.

Combination of collages illustrating passage of three main user groups through building complex

Exploded axonometric showing kindergarten, library, auditorium, multipurpose space / offices, housing

Modelphotograph (top and left) and detailed section through facade of  new insertion

The existing office block of Elizabeth House is opened to the public by means of removing selective areas and slotting new interventions into and underneath the building. A silvery aluminium-clad double-height insertion features most prominently. It houses the complex's most important functions: the Think Tank offices and a mulitpurpose space. It is clad in panels consisting of hinged aluminium "flaps" whose movements responds to changes in wind. Sunken gardens allow the building to connect further into the ground. Two new additions (the public library and a kindergarten) frame the larger one of these to provide the complex's main outdoor area.

Multipurpose Space : here a meeting of elderly residents

Collages: sunken garden | kindergarten | reading gallery | smoking terrace | idea speed-dating | storytelling event | offices