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Holland Street Sheltered Housing

Collection: School of Architecture Collection
Object Type: Architectural Project Work
Artist/Maker: Fleck, David
Place Made: United Kingdom: Aberdeenshire, Robert Gordon's Technical College School of Architecture
Date: 2011
Media/Materials: DVD
Awards: RGU Architecture Purchase Award


Artist's statement:
This project was for me a close exploration of the subtleties of dense living, and trying to engage ideas of creating community through architecture, and gentle phenomenology (the importance of small momentary, multi sensual experiences). To begin to do this I was keen to turn from where I feel a lot of current architecture is facing, with it’s bright open spaces and sleek crisp edges. My project instead explores the importance and emotive nature of shadows and changing light, and I have tried to show this through my drawing style which has been inspired by the amazing work of the artist Charles Avery.

The scheme is primarily sheltered housing, where both couples and single elderly people can have a self contained flat of their own within a protected environment and community. The site we were given is situated very close to broadford works, a large abandoned textiles mill just north of Aberdeen’s city centre, which gives the area a strong old industrial character despite most of the buildings now being residential. Many of the new developments in this area are quite unambitious and low density, and I worked hard to achieve a far higher density on my site with 36 separate apartments. Besides being a more sustainable solution in terms of energy and land use, high density design can help to expand the boundaries of the “city centre” further north again, having in the past been severed through the disconnection of George Street.

Broadford works is an incredibly rich site, with dramatic mill buildings and large old warehouses which are sadly crumbling away since the textile industry crashed. I wanted to maintain some of this architectural richness in my design, through using old bricks as a prominent material, but also raw plywood and some exposed and painted steel work. This use of material gives character to the scheme, and warmth to each of the living spaces. The materials and construction don’t lend themselves to a temporary building, it is the strong intention to create something which isn’t transient, but which has an element of timelessness and permanence.

The most important consideration was of course the daily lives of the residents. The fairly austere street facade fits into the urban context, but gives little indication of the playful internal face- with terraces, balconies, huge windows, pergolas, and clambering plants and vines. The building is mainly introspective, with all of the apartments looking south west out of large windows onto a planted seasonal courtyard. Set above the private parking below, large wide terraces offer space to fill with potted plants, hang out washing, sit in the sun or let the grand-children play. This is the lived in side of the building, where neighbors constantly meet and chat, and the light and atmosphere constantly change as the sun changes it’s angle in the sky and the plants bloom or fade.

The need today is to find out and affirm what is valuable; people cannot escape their essential needs and emotions, although they may try, and we must always stop to critique everyday life so it doesn’t carry us away. This is perhaps a Stuckist architecture. I believe it is most important to recognise people as the motive force of architecture, and to try and echo beauty and richness of experience, while also perhaps finding a place to challenge our society’s drought of interdependence and community.

Object Number: ABDRG2011.35

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