Pocket sites are full of potential; a case of squeezing everything you can from the little you have to start with.
Useful references can be anywhere. There was one staring at us from the scrap yard next door.
And another further along the trainline.
We were inspired by images from the industrial past : a blend of Victorian and Dickensian influences, overlapping with the creative clash of counter-culture.
Daylight is used an excavating force to hollow the building from the in and outside
The first and most challenging problem was how to amplify a keyhole site and bring light deep into the arch.
Using a dished surface – in this case to scoop, capture and consolidate daylight – we focused light from all directions into the deep recesses of the arch. The concave shape inversely stretches perspectives and broadens tight spatial limits.
We imagined light to be an excavating force and hollowed the building from the in and outside
To squeeze every inch of space, we studied ways to construct a thin but robust shell, applying stressed skin construction from ship and aircraft manufacturing.
The thin shell was stabilised by structural buttresses which provide slots for daylight and corresponding views to the outside
In reference to the local area – Elephant and Castle – a sketch from Le Petit Prince was a loose influence for urban concealment and playful camouflage.
The contrast between in and outside the building is dramatic, both in materials, volumes and the sense of softness and respite from tough environmental conditions