Ben Adams on Brighton’s coastal focus
Rising sea levels (we are all doomed!) often preoccupy coastal architecture schools, and Brighton in 2012 has several units whose speculations depart from this point. Two consistent themes emerge: how should we respond to the rapid urbanisation demanded by a changing coastline, and how should our existing buildings be re-programmed and refitted.
In the Winchelcity Unit, rising sea levels demand a rethink of Winchelsea as a significant city, or perhaps a police state, as Max Langran’s arresting images suggest. They include a dramatic counterpoint of country cottage and sinister surveillance building, and a collage of ‘redundant’ communist memorials set behind a row of 1930s houses. The Interior Architecture surprises with a brief to reuse a utilitarian shed, and yet Violeta Stukaite gives us a glorious and sensitive space for rehabilitation in its repurposing.
The star of the show for ambition and relevance had to be Catriona Mole’s take on the redundancy of the town centre. Her response is to pull it apart and put it back together as The Collaborative Town Centre. Grandiose enough and an easy ambition to support, her drawings suggest boldness and skill. Her central message – that personal interaction and collaboration demand public urban space to unfold – is laudable when the increasing private ownership of public spaces threaten a less palatable future for our cities.
In a word
Ben Adams, founder, Ben Adams Architects
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