Reece Oliver (He/Him)
Level 4 Art Foundation Diploma – Nottingham Art School
BA(Hons) Architecture – Newcastle University
I see architecture as an everyday art form, and aim to translate seemingly everyday findings into architectural language, to provoke a dialogue between nature, the built environment and the human body. I take an interest in deeply-rooted historical and social contexts to construct responsive and expressive design proposals, which this year at GSA focused on urban housing and urban building briefs.
Urban Building: Barras Youth Hub
The Barras Youth Hub provides a much-needed respite and opportunity space for the young people of Calton and the Barras. As part of Glasgow City Council’s ‘Integrated Children Plan’, the council-funded scheme will offer accessible space for young residents aged between 10-19 years. The hub offers a variety of learning, leisure and performance environments to cover a wide scope of non-curriculum and creative interests the young user group may have, to encourage alternative modes of learning alongside and after their school life.
The Barras Youth Hub provides an open programme of education and activities designed for the purpose of enhancing the personal and social development of young persons through their voluntary participation.
With the lowest average tariff score in Glasgow, there is a clear issue with the education and learning opportunities being provided in the district. Levels of deprivation and child poverty are significantly higher than average, and youth unemployment is the 2nd highest in Glasgow. In comparison to education performance levels in the city of Glasgow, Calton is ranked the worst, having the lowest Key Stage 4 tariff grades by a significant margin. Of those leaving school aged 16, 73% are found to be heading in a ‘positive’ direction, which is also the lowest percentage across Glasgow.
In the Calton Area Partnership Profile, published by Glasgow City Council, the two issues highlighted as a priority were the aid of Vulnerable People and Youth Unemployment. A 2015 survey from the residents of Calton identified ‘the lack of activities at community facilities’ as the main local issue, as well as services for young people and lack of health and wellbeing centres accessible in the area. There is currently no community outlet in Calton which offers the residents any kind of relief from the labours of the domestic environment. Aligning with the Studio theme of ‘Domesticity and Labour’, my thesis explored the ideas of ‘Leisure’, as defined by the philosopher Joffre Dumazadier. According to Dumazedier, ‘Leisure’ consists of a number of occupations in which the individual may indulge of one’s own free will – either
1. To rest,
2. To amuse oneself,
3. To add to ones knowledge or improve ones skills disinterestedly or
4. To increase ones voluntary participation in the life of the community after discharging from professional, family and social duties.
In relation to Dumazadier’s theory, the Barras Youth Hub therefore sets out to establish all four capacities of leisure for the modern youth generation of Calton, as a response to the crucial need for youth support in the district.
‘Imagine a space where reading, performance, lectures, exhibitions, research and learning happily co-exist under one roof and the door is open to everyone.’
The Barras Youth Hub provides a respite to the labours of living, offering activities defined by all aspects of Joffre Dumazadier’s 4 forms of leisure. The building is defined by four specific areas –
1. To express
2. To rehearse
3. To discuss
4. To perform.
These educational categories have been defined architecturally by four distinct buildings enclosing a publicly accessible courtyard space.
Urban Housing: Bare Necessities!
Domesticity and Labour, though intrinsically linked, cannot exist without Leisure; it is Leisure which enables the sustenance of contemporary modes of living. Joffre Dumazedier’s ‘The Masses, Culture and Leisure’ states – ‘Leisure is activity – apart from obligations of work, family and society, to which the individual turns at will’. This notion ties in directly with the relationship between Domesticity and Labour – one cannot exist without the other, but both are dependent upon Leisure as an outlet for their sustenance.
Bare Necessities! examines the requirement for Domesticity and Labour to exist within the typical residential unit, where such commodities are stripped back to a minimum to allow for an increase in Leisure activity within and beyond the dwelling. The units are defined as 4.5m(w) x 7.0m(l) x 4.8m(h). The absence of standard Domestic items gives a feeling of more generous space, and the lofty ceiling height allows flexibility within the unit. Each apartment is provided with a basic kitchen unit and bathroom.
As Domesticity is removed from the housing unit, Labour and Leisure are as a result prioritised, creating flexible space for its resident. Here, they can create spatial conditions based on their hobbies, work and/or personal living requirements which gives each unit its own sub-identity. Domesticity is found as part of the proposal, but within shared spaces – a communal kitchen, large dining and lounge space provide external amenity spaces for residents in the ‘Leisure Tower’. The Leisure Tower provides a communal kitchen, living, dining and storage area. With the units having a 4.8m ceiling height, the Leisure Tower also provides intermediate floors which offer alternate means of Leisure, including a gym, health spa, library, flexible events space, meeting rooms and more.
The scheme aims to attract young couples and families through the adaptable units. With configurations of 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, the units allow expansion and reduction to suit each residents spatial requirements. Proposed within an area of high deprivation with high levels of unemployment, the scheme provides multiple opportunities for Labour and learning within the various Domestic and Leisure environments across the scheme.