The ‘Media Monastery,’ is a contemporary, multidisciplinary BBC media building in Belfast. I studied the monastery as an historical architectural paradigm for slowing and ordering time, in order to enrich the digital ‘rituals’ that would take place in the media building. ‘Vertical Cloisters’ form interconnected spaces to work, think and create. My design is part of a larger city proposition recalling the flooded origins of Belfast, which echoes with that of Venice. I discovered my site by the original River Lagan crossing point, ‘The Long Bridge.’ I re-imagined the rich archaeological palimpsest of the former glassworks into a new urban intervention. I created a ‘Digital Venice,’ where new digital industries gather along the river.
In my dreams, the fast-paced media world is re-imagined with the slowness of the Monastery, a ‘Media Monastery.’ Moving vertically from the horizontal of the river, the Media Monastery is stratified vertically to generate a density and exploit new proximities between the media facilities, and Collective spaces. I imagined a ‘Wall’ of individual spaces, like the monastic cell of Saint Jerome in his Study. Creating spaces for individual contemplation and thought for new ideas. A public trajectory through the building called the Public Cloister begins on the ground floor grand concourse. This opens into the various studio spaces and a café bar overlooking the river. Programmatically the large black box studios have been re-imagined as a flexible media landscape. The two main central blocks of newsroom, editing and radio provide interconnected working spaces. The Public experience then moves vertically in the ‘Wall’ and culminates in the interactive centre for Sound and Vision. It celebrates the archives of the BBC creating a new public facility and museum to compliment audience participation and new digital content. A restaurant over-looks the ‘Sky Cloister,’ and a stair case leads to the viewing platform to view and reconnect with the city.
The Media Monastery, is part of a larger urban proposition recalling the flooded origins of Belfast, which echoes with that of Venice. Located by the original crossing point of the ‘Long Bridge.’ I uncovered the archaeological remains of the site, a former brick kiln, now lost in time. The Sirocco Glass Works has a rich archaeological palimpsest, which I uncovered and abstracted into a new urban intervention. I carved linear strips of land so the river is incorporated into site, engaging with the Archaeology and the historic urban grain. A series of bridges and urban spaces connect this new Digital Landscape gathering around the qualities of water and light. Mixed use housing, digital media buildings and leisure are arranged in a linear pattern. The Archaeological remains would be exposed and create an urban park, which describes the traces of history, wrapped in a Silver Birth Forest. The building emerges from the river like a structural tree opening up its platforms and spaces to the city. The service core acts like the trunk, from which, cantilevering steel truss frames, extend out to support the vertical cloisters. A white concrete structure echoing Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion is covered in a crystalline glass surface punctured by a delicate marble skin. A rigorous process of thinking by making was undertaken, by carving, casting, drawing and abstracting. By re-introducing the models together I began to create my own city. Embodied thought and memory. The Thinking Hand.