Project description

Staging Escape acknowledges an accelerating hunger for on-demand content, fed by the film and tv industry. Arguing that escapism is a vital practice in contemporary life, a source of comfort, and a means of sustaining sanity, the project seeks to challenge the conventions of architectures of the film and tv industry which tend towards large, simple sheds on peripheral sites and aims to reveal the functions, programmes and structures which support the creation of content streamed to our digital devices.

The proposal hybridises the five stages of content production – Design, Construct, Act, Record, Present – into a coherent building designed with practicality, performance (building and actor) and sustainability strategies at the forefront. It includes a cinema, housing units and hotel adjacent to the film production studios for large production companies to independent creators. The urban arrangement works with infrastructural conditions: busy underground rail tunnels, urban acoustics, the brownfield remnants of the earlier railway mineral depot, the density and calibration of Colonies housing. The intervention weaves, overlaps, intersects, collides and layers the various programmatic functions into a dynamic and complex form which appears to flow across the site yet is scaled to the massing of its urban context. The architectural language draws inspiration from set-construction scaffolding with both visible and hidden sides. CLT, glulam beam and reinforced concrete structure support an external material palette of zinc, composite laminate rainscreen and LED screen panels, while internally a polished concrete ground landscape features a series of [pixel]follies.

Final pres. expand
Composite Poster Presentation Board encompassing key stages acting towards the final resolution.
Design Resolution.
Master Plan expand
Master Plan of extended site.
Lower Ground Floor Plan expand
Lower Ground Floor Plan.
Upper Ground Floor Plan.
Upper Ground Floor Plan - film studio and workshop level.
Level 01 Plan. expand
Level 01 Plan.
Level 03 Plan. expand
Level 03 Plan.
Level 02 Plan. expand
Level 02 Plan.
Level 04 Plan. expand
Level 04 Plan.
Roof Plan.
Roof Plan - indication of material systems used.
Section A. expand
Section A - cross-section through large film studio, 'street', green screen, stores, etc.
Section B.
Section B - Section cut along internal 'street' between large film studio and green screen space.
Post-Railway Aerial Shot.
Haymarket gap site during/ after the removal of the railway lines of the mineral depot (1969).
Technical, Environmental & Building System Strategies.
Facade. expand
Material strategies draw on the concept of the pixel (screen) & the duality of screen scaffolding (seen/hidden).
Structure. expand
Zoomed structural system of large film studio and 'street' between workshops - outlining structural components, configurations & connection systems.
Solar. expand
Relation of massing to solar paths highlight solar energy strategy.
Acoustic. expand
Contextual analysis of acoustics - dictating the programmatic layout on site.
Old Photo.
Braving the Haymarket traffic (1971) - infrastructure past, present and future shape the site.
Technical Detailing & Experiential Quality.
Technical Detailing. expand
Technical report extract: wall-window-ground detailing.
Technical Detailing. expand
Technical report extract: parapet facade rainscreen detailing.
Technical Detailing. expand
Technical report extract: elephant door detailing (acoustic control for film studio).
Interior Perspective Storyboards.
Storyboards: corner junction of 'behind the scenes' circulatory 'street' between film studio, green screen, workshops, etc.
Interior Perspective Storyboards.
Storyboards: Wireframe view from [pixel] folly 1 looking upwards to folly 2 & 4.
Interior Perspective Storyboards.
Storyboards: Wireframe perspective showcasing spatial quality of [pixel] folly 3.
[Pixel] Follies.
Pixel Folly 3. expand
[pixel] folly 3 - pixel landscape fusing flexibility and breakout space with functional circulation.
Pixel Folly 1. expand
[pixel] folly 1 - ground floor pixel landscape animating and populating the almost sublime scale of the 'being the scenes' 'street' space.
Pixel Folly 4. expand
[pixel] folly 4 - breakout work cubes set off the vertical circulation route projecting out into the 'street'.
Pixel Folly 2. expand
[pixel] folly 2 - flexible function space between Levels 01 & 02.
Haymarket junction at night.
Haymarket junction at night with trailing lights of the moving traffic (1958).
Escapism through projected film - a homage to Plato's Cave.
Appendix: Video Poem 1

Escapism took a central position throughout this year's studio work from the intial video poem exploration of what it means to be at home. My interpretation arose from the idea of escapism from environment and a detachment from context, to a place of familiarity where one can feel in control. The intervention recorded visual and aural cues of the countryside (my home), which could then be brought with me back to Edinburgh and used as an ‘escape’ from the city. This involved the literal recording of physical things but later journeyed to shadows and reflections (of the same sources) – abstractions of a known reality. 

This abstracted view and the thought of presenting a shadow or reflection to others rather than revealing video of the real thing led me to consider Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and the premise of what it means to be enlightened. 

Escapism from context / displacement from home...
Appendix: Video Poem 2

A subsequent video poem served to further explore escapism as a theme; this time grounded by studies of the outward migration of people from the then dilapidated Old Town to the peripheral estates of Edinburgh during the late-19th and early-20th Centuries. The film fixated on social aspects observing the tenants' perspective of a forced physical 'escape' to an alien environment.

Although the improved living and hygiene conditions offered by the new housing were a benefit, this ‘escape’ failed to consider the social aspect and implications, displacing a sense of community. In the video, it is revealed that people can achieve ‘escapism’ from their new home through vocational training, clubs, gardening, etc., dampening their nostalgia for their past home in the city. 

Indeed, this forced ‘escape’ can draw parallels to our shared reality over the last year were social and community aspects of life have suffered; leaving us too often with a screen as the most potent means of escape. 


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