Project description

Located at the centre of two converging axes, this proposal for a townhall ties together key locations in Leith - the Links, Leith Walk, the Shore and the harbour. Yet the territory of Kirkgate feels fractured, with the modernist masterplan superseding rather than complementing the historic street pattern, forming disjointed corners and poorly proportioned open spaces. The proposal introduces a town hall to the site, which will house a debating chamber and the administration of the local government.  Thereby, it aims to tie together physically and socially the disjointed parts of Leith, transforming the now desolate territory around the Linksview platform into a thriving civic space.

Firstly, the site invention will address the disjointed condition of the current urban fabric, re-instating the key North-South street to the harbour and densifying the overexposed area. Secondly, the programme aims to revive Kirkgate as a civic centre, using the new townhall not only to accommodate the local administration but to create a platform for grassroots movements, many of which have formed in protest to neglected condition of the housing estates. By hosting both the local government and community groups, the building will create opportunities for civic engagement and exchange.

Site: The building as a Hingepoint, site plan, location in Leith and sketch of site strategy
Site: The Building as a Hingepoint
Technical Section through the Circulation and Debating Chamber
Technical Section through the Circulation and Debating Chamber
Tectonic Agenda

The design ethos of Unit 6: Civic Structures considers the external urban rooms shaped by a built intervention to be equally important as the space enclosed. Within the fragmented territory of South Leith defined by three modernist towerblocks, the studio seeks to shape civic spaces between new and old edges, helping revive gathering grounds for the community. To achieve interventions that are successful in the long run, buildings are designed as systems of layers, each with a different rate of change.

My proposal for a townhall is enveloped in a load-bearing stone exoskeleton. This most permanent building layer, providing skin and structure in one, frames and characterises newly shaped civic spaces. Stone was chosen as the structural material for this most critical part of the intervention due to its longevity and material relationship to Leith’s historic institutions. Even after the townhall itself is dismantled, parts of the stone skeleton may remain in place, ensuring the continued framing of external gathering spaces. While structural stone is suitable to generate a contextual civic presence, it also presents a lower carbon alternative to concrete. The external stone skeleton is laterally supported by a timber frame, which defines a series of internal gathering grounds.

Townhall, Exploded Tectonic Axonometric expand
Exploded Tectonic Axonometric
Technical Section and Elevation of the South Façade expand
Technical Section and Elevation of the South Façade
Construction Detail showing how Stone and Timber Frame meet in First Floor Overhang expand
Stone and Timber Frame Connection Detail
Approach of the Townhall from Kirkgate
Approaching the Townhall from Kirkgate
View of the Debating Chamber
Interior View of the Debating Chamber
1:50 Tectonic Model, Isonometric View expand
1:50 Tectonic Model
1:50 Tectonic Model, Debating Chamber in Elevation expand
Debating Chamber in Elevation
1:50 Tectonic Model, External Colonnade, Looking towards Circulation expand
External Colonnade, Looking towards Circulation
1:50 Tectonic Model, First Floor Circulation expand
First Floor Circulation
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