UNSW Built Environment Master of Architecture: Mark David Roach

3 08 2009

It’s great to be back and to be getting started with the design stage of my graduation project (ARCH7202). Having completed my research phase of the design (ARCH7201), I can now start to implement what I have learnt to design a theatre for Customs House.

Being my final semester, it’s already pretty intense with a sketch design of my proposed theatre due by week 3. This basically involves fleshing out what kind of spaces/rooms are required, their relationship to each other and how people experience the building in a graphic way. So this would usually include plans and sections and some sketches, with elevations coming later in the process. This might sound a bit full on, but over the course of my degree I am more efficient at doing things and prioritising, so it’s not too intense.

Getting back to theatres, and I’m quickly realising how amazing and technically demanding they are. But I think we are all really lucky in Sydney to have such a great example – Sydney Opera House.  The significance of it is quite clear when you observe other theatres and buildings in general that have been influenced by it.

To help us prepare for this semester, our tutors gave us the task of understanding what exactly a theatre is and what kind of requirements it demands. I was also particularly interested in looking for buildings that had been restored or incorporated existing buildings (adaptive re-use) as well as those buildings that were concerned with the public realm/space of cities and how a building may contribute to that space in a positive way. This concern for the public realm and in general urban fabric of a city is a growing concern amongst architects especially given the emphasis on sustainability. I suppose this is also a point of departure or distinction from what is done in the earlier years of an architecture degree, which deals with sites of a smaller scope.

The process of understanding the theatre was pretty exciting as it involved looking at a ton of awesome theatres from around the world, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dallas Theatre, Jean Nouvel’s Opera de Lyon, Rem Koolhaas’s Casa da Musica and Sydney’s very own Opera House by Jorn Utzon.  All these buildings are worth checking out whether in person or through books and the net – that might have video tours of the building. Observing buildings and life in general is something that my design tutors have really encouraged and it’s a really good practice to have as an architecture student, to just take time to stop and actually really look hard at what’s around you and record it either through words or drawing.

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