URBAN ITINERARY: CINEMATIC SPACE
Seeking to trace the Urban Interior as a point of origin and departure for Cinema
26. 07. 21
Beginning this weeks studio workshop session, we came together as a collective class to review and analyse an array of selected, developed models generated from our scene transition exploration task. While cohering the creation of these models, it is vital we take into direct and careful consideration fundamental spatial elements, particularly when drawing towards or engaging within specific spatial characteristics.
Critical Spatial Elements of Consideration:
DEPTH WITHIN PLANE
INVERSAL OF VIEW
IDEA OF FOCUS
These elements in established cohesion will allow us to expand and extend not only our spatial recognition and interpretation of the Fort Lane Precinct, but also how we read, analyse and understand our programmed design in relation to it. As a progression into this weeks workshop explorations, we are to recognise, ideate and articulate our site considerations and potential design approaches or interventions into the existing space. Through this we will be analysing and interpreting the notion of ‘the script’, ‘a programming of space’ and ‘design longevity’.
Activated through method, mode and scripting.
Designing things across spans of time.
A script, a programming of space, an itinerary.
‘There is no architecture, design, there is no space without programme’. Textures and materialities can also be a way of scripting space, scripting behaviour.
Prescript. Prescribe. Prescription. Determine in advance.
Script. Figurative Script. Script can be literal and or abstract.
Post Script. Written after. An encapsulated script of post production, post project.
The work Monument Against Facism explores this notion of script in a multitude of ways. Script is used as a means of designing, planning, setting the preliminaries to be undergone. Script is also a temporal register for the method and mode of how one interacts or participates with this installation. Post monument an encapsulated text panel remains as a palimpsest of once initiated public dialogue.
Residents were invited with a text, translated in seven languages, to ratify a public statement about fascism by engraving their names with the metal pencil provided directly onto the surface of the monument. As more and more names cover this 12 metre-high lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day it will have disappeared completely and the site of the Harburg monument against fascism will be empty.
The work The House explores the notion of script, particularly in relation to postscript and a figurative script. Script is used as a means of designing, planning, setting the preliminaries to be undergone. The layout, construction and materiality of the project itself.
However it is inherently interesting, a cast, concrete house that can’t be lived in. It is an unprogrammable space that can’t be inhabited. It is a transient work that now exists only in documentation, but it draws attention to the longevity of design and the significance it has even when it holds no permanence anymore.
Where texts become layered and layered, where familiar materiality is still present at the site, traces that still remain.
The work Place Léon Aucoc explores the notion of script as a means of designing, planning, setting the preliminaries to be undergone. However their proposals are extremely limited and paired back. Periods of observation determine where a careful, conscious, considered and ethical approach is best needed and both suited to the existing site and its inhabitants. Nothing calls for too great a set of changes. Embellishment has no place here. Quality, charm, life exist. Repurpose, recycle, reusing whats there.
The work Future Library explores the longevity of design where method, mode and scripting are spanned across the dimension of time. This project summary enforces that a forest has been planted in Norway, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in 100 years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unread and unpublished, until the year 2114. An activation of events, scripted, programmed moments. The books that will hold us across time and push us into the future.
The work Wall Drawing is itself a representation of an instruction. LeWitt crafted a set of simple guidelines or a diagram for each wall drawing so that others, such as studio assistants, can produce the work independently. A set of instructions where produced in order to meet an intended or desired outcome. Script here is the way one puts something into action, extrapolate into design. To programme or set something up and let it unfold in a way that doesn’t involve us, the designer.
The work Parc de la Villette, a system of dispersed “points”— the red enameled steel folies that support different cultural and leisure activities are superimposed on a system of lines that emphasises movement through the park. Each space, each architectural design, facility is publicly available and open to interpretation. The inhabitants of the park programme the space in their own desired way.
However we can begin to ask ourselves What happens after our design has been implemented, put into action? What is its longevity or timespan? As spatial designers it is crucial that we question the temporal registers of our designs as a means to be activated through method, mode and scripting, as well as how it spans across time.
A Scripting of the Fort Lane Precinct
The concept of the Terrain Vague
“Oversights in the landscape that are mentally exterior in the physically interior of the urban city.”
— Ignasi de Sola-Morales
The terrain vague seeks to explore the ambiguous spaces of the city, these marginal urban spaces that desire to be redefined. These are spaces of confrontation and contamination between the organic and the inorganic, between nature and artifice that constitute the built city’s negative, the interstitial and the marginal. In this regard Fort Lane could be deemed a terrain vague, a vacant space that could be recognised as seperate, or located outside of Auckland City’s productive spaces. A space with potential that is waiting to be discovered or uncovered.
Where I can start to ask myself what kind of temporal span am I interested in exploring through my project? What happens after our design has been implemented, put into action? What is its longevity or timespan? Do I wish to construct and enhance the space through permanent architecture or instead through a temporary installation or event? The spectrum for which our design can engage within the Fort Lane Precinct is completely interpretative and open to us as designers and the type of impact we wish to create. Imagining how we could shift in ones spatial experience whilst in that designed environment? Once I establish the timespan in which I wish my project to be undertaken across, to fully understand and recognise its longevity, it will be incredibly beneficial towards directing the type of design intervention I am going to implement.
In conjunction with understanding the temporal span of my project, determining and identifying a specific site location within the entire Fort Lane Precinct that I intend to work with is vitally important. What part of the site captured my attention or interest to work with most, a moment where I saw a possibility, an imagining? Which site locations allow for a potentiality of explorations and interventions to be possible? Considering its inherent qualities, its orientation, heritage or industrial features, an internal building interior or external space within the lane or up on the rooftop, or even a threshold moment, a combination of spaces. These aspects of my specified chosen site will need to be carefully considered when designed and planning into the existing area. In order to begin breaking down these thoughts and considerations towards beginning to develop and shape the form I wish for my intervention to take, I mapped out and collated all my current ideas, concepts, perceptions and reflections both in relation to the site and how I responded to it through this cinematic lens. Seeing all my thoughts written down will help me towards building connections to clarify my conceptual interests and explorative direction of intent for my design intervention.
From this mapping was I able to further ideate and break down these key conceptual terms relevant to my progressive design project. Beginning to build a conditional narrative around a potential design intervention, the main conceptual drivers behind my project to establish a repertoire of words. What does each term mean to me in consideration of its relation to the site, the studio brief and my own project interests, a self analysis of words and their meanings.
transition, shift, gesture, performative, enthral, conceal and reveal, activation, ephemerality, evoke, disposition, impetus, escapism, montage, revive, transmundane, immersive, liveness, movement, invigoration.
A glimpse into a site’s history.
Fort Street was originally known as ‘Fore Street’ and marks the Commercial Bay shoreline. The Fort Street shoreline was a key landing point during Auckland’s early settlement, and is central to Auckland’s role as a major trading centre. Fort Lane was part of the original post-reclamation street plan created to service warehousing at the rear of buildings fronting Queen Street.
The first land reclamations started in 1859, with nine acres of foreshore between Fore (Fort) Street and Customhouse (Custom) Street being reclaimed in the 1860s. Subsequent reclamation was undertaken to improve harbour facilities at a time when colonial capital was rapidly expanding. The dip in the lane reflects the settlement of the reclamation material.
Before Auckland was created as colonial capital, the site formed part of the foreshore at the bottom of the Waihorotiu valley, fronting the Waitemata Harbour. The bay that it adjoined contained a Pipi bank known as Te Roukai. Called Commercial Bay by early colonial settlers, the area became Auckland’s main trading port and contained a wharf erected in 1852 in the vicinity of lower Queen Street, beside the Everybody’s Building site. After a large area to the east of the wharf was reclaimed from 1859 onwards, the site incorporated two separate brick buildings, respectively fronting Queen Street and Fort Lane.
Looking south west from Point Britomart showing Commercial Bay during the early stages of reclamation, 1859
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
Showing Point Britomart with Jacobs Ladder and Arnold Hines and Company timber yard, old St Paul’s Church on the skyline, 1870-1889
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
A two storey timber hotel was built on the corner of Fort and Queen Streets, know as the Metropolitan Hotel, licensed from 1858. Construction of the hotel was directly linked to the bustling trade activities on the waterfront.
The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society took over the Metropolitan Hotel lease in 1885. The hotel was renamed the Imperial Hotel and later incorporated neighbouring Graham’s Buildings and Webb’s Buildings. The bluestone wall visible on Fort Lane may date from the original 1861 Webb’s Buildings.
Looking south west from Point Britomart showing Fort Street, with
Auckland City in the background, 1875
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
Looking south along Queen Street from Palmerston Buildings on the corner of Customs Street West, 1916
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
The former Queen’s and Everybody’s Theatres
“Aucklanders are soon to rediscover remnants of a bygone era that have been locked away for more than 50 years when what’s left of the former Queen’s and Everybody’s picture theatres are transformed. We are showing the age and generations that have gone through these spaces.”
The spaces, once the entertainment centre of Auckland, had been shut off from public view until recent makeovers of the Imperial and Everybody’s buildings were undergone. In 1915 Gaiety Theatre Ltd. issued a prospectus outlining plans for converting Everybody’s to a theatre. Plans included the ‘reconstruction’ of the Queen Street façade in a classical Grecian design, the fitting of two shop fronts, a luxurious and spacious public lounge and offices, and a theatre for 700-800 people. Everybody’s Theatre was opened in September 1915. It showed continuous films and was run by Thomas O’Brien between 1923 and 1929 when it closed. Woolworths took over the lease and adapted the building as a department store, but relocated to the Imperial Building next door in 1935 after a fire.
Conversion to a theatre occurred at a time when moving pictures were becoming an extremely popular form of recreation. Novel seating at Everybody’s Theatre allowed two people to sit together without an armrest separating them. The prospectus also boasted that a sliding roof would be inserted to allow open air viewing on warm summer nights. Back when the Queen’s theatre opened in 1911, it had an ornate plastered ceiling where decorations of the interior have been carried out on a lavish scale, the walls having been covered with paintings of New Zealand scenery and the remaining space with plate glass mirrors.
In 1927, Queen’s changed its name to the Hippodrome and was run by Michael Moodabe – a partner in the Hippodrome Picture Company which later became Amalgamated Theatres. The theatre had another name change, becoming the Roxy in 1929 when it was converted for “talkies”. The Roxy closed in 1935 but was later reborn as the new Roxy in Everybody’s cinema, which was built alongside the Queen’s in 1915. Everybody’s Building was then modified and opened as the new Roxy. It operated as a continuous double-feature house and served as Amalgamated Theatre’s headquarters before eventually closing in 1956. Both these spaces have been refitted and established as Queen’s Theatre space becoming a bar/bistro and the former Roxy Theatre being a full service restaurant. The Fort Lane Precinct and its surrounding buildings uphold such a rich contextual history, particularly in the performative arts and culture scene, where drawing references or connections from these histories and uplifting them again could be extremely interesting and relevant.
Back in 1841 New Zealand’s first theatre, the Albert Theatre was set up in the back room of an Auckland Hotel, yet the first purpose built theatre was Wellingtons Royal Victoria which opened in 1843. Over the decades many more towns got theatres, opera halls and choral houses. They were usually built by entrepreneurs or arts organisations. Their interiors were grand and ornate adding to the excitement of a night out. The 1910s saw the rise of cinemas. Films had been shown in New Zealand at theatres and halls since the 1890s, but the first purpose-built cinema opened in Wellington in 1910, ‘the Kings’.
As cinema’s popularity grew, increasingly lavish picture theatres were built up and down the country. So were new theatres for live performances. The last of the ornate neoclassical-style theatres were built in the 1920s. From then on theatres were built in modern styles, such as art deco. From the 1960s smaller, intimate theatres made a comeback. They provided venues for both amateur and professional productions, often experimental. Meanwhile, student demand for modern performance venues saw the construction of new university theatres. During the 1970s town halls and even theatres were built in a modernist style, old theatres were sometimes demolished with others being restored entirely.
DigitalNZ. (2021). Fort Lane Redevelopment. Retrieved from https://digitalnz.org/stories/5b4eba8b8d2a4e22d8e7d826
Heritage New Zealand. (2009, Aug, 05). Everybody’s Building. Retrieved from https://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/4595
NZ Herald. (2011, Jan, 22). Forgotten Gems saved from Wreckers ball. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/forgotten-gems-saved-from-wreckers-ball/3PVMSUXLXOMRXZTN2ENUFAL74A/
Te Ara. (2014. Oct. 22). Theatres, cinemas and halls. Retrieved from https://teara.govt.nz/en/theatres-cinemas-and-halls
27. 07. 21
In today’s design workshop session, we started by developing temporal vocabulary for our project, considering its desired or planned longevity and timespan. This temporal vocabulary is a beneficial tool towards understanding and unpacking how our project will unfold and transpire over a specific timespan. For my project I have decided to break it down into three seperate components or stages as a means of imagining its timespan. The temporal vocabulary to reflect this sequential transition throughout the longevity of my design intervention will alter through a Making Stage, a Devouring Stage, and a Digesting Stage.
The first stage will consist of the planning, designing and constructing phase of my design intervention into the Fort Lane Precinct.
The second stage will consist of the enactment, usage, enhancements driven or generated by my semi permanent architecture, installation into the Fort Lane Precinct.
The third stage will consist of either the entirety, or instead parts of my design intervention to exist only through documentation. Experiential moments to be captured or only encountered in the live.
For the second part of this design workshop, we have been asked to generate and write a brief script that moves someone through the site in a way that relates to our conceptual frameworks of exploration. It may be just one poetic sentence that suggests a way of moving, or instead it could be a heavily detailed and descriptive. A script, a programming of space, an itinerary. Using my key conceptual terms and notions analysed within my previous mind maps, I started to write out my brief script. Whilst writing I wanted to intersect generative self reflective questions, cues to look for to enable greater curiosity and a more inherent response to the script. As ones experience and response both towards and in a space will be uniquely different so I wanted my script to highlight and embrace this. By playing around with my conceptual frameworks and direct interest in how movement is or can be transpired within Fort Lane, I created three ideation scripts.
28. 07. 21
For todays studio session, the whole class met for another site visit to the Fort Lane Precinct in the heart of Auckland’s CBD. We were all asked to bring our constructed brief script that moves someone through the site in a hard copy format for them to follow. Through a random generation and handout of scripts, we were all given one others script to adhere to, interpret and enact out in the site. The script I was given and followed was incredibly simple, clear and concise to what the writer wanted me to do, the script distinctly stated in a one liner to walk around the site aimlessly. By doing this it allowed me to fully recognise, seek out and notice new details of the site that I hadn’t previously before. I walked around the site without looking for anything in particular, instead just consciously observing what was immediately in front of me. This exercise of analysing and following ones directions of how to move throughout the site was really intriguing to me and has stimulated new thoughts surrounding how I consider ones interpretation and immediate response to my design project. Shown below is the brief script I decided to let someone follow within the Fort Lane Precinct.
As one followed through my script they jotted down their thoughts and responses in relation to the self reflective questions and conceptual frameworks expressed within my script. This helped me to gather a much more insightful understanding of their experience interpreting my script, where I can utilise these insights to help build a strong story narrative and establish experiential moments within my design intervention.
Traversing from a cinematic world, back into reality. Considering programmed behaviours in contrast to itinerant behaviours. The proper and improper way of doing things. Spaces and what is composed within them are an invitation for how we react or respond to it. Invite, script, manipulate and imprint. Textures, topographies, physical alterations that change or alter the way people are moving and behaving. A story, narrative that we experience.
A Folly – ‘A building constructed primarily for decoration, but suggesting through its appearance some other purpose’. The space is programmed to a certain point but open to interpretation.
Whilst on location at the Fort Lane Precinct, I undertook an array of new discoveries looking deeper and more precisely into my site location areas of interest, considering detail, materiality, context, gesture and tonality.
New site findings, observations, insights
The threshold transition between two thoroughfares, Imperial Lane and Fort Lane.
IMPERIAL LANE. A raked floor upholding raw bricks, cobblestone floors and large oak and concrete tables to create a distinct 19th century industrial warehouse feel.
Materiality, Surface, Texture, Detail
Textural rubbings of selective surfaces taken from the Fort Lane Precinct. A revelation of historic details of architecture, where a loosely framed edge draws attention to the age and character of the site. Converging of brick, stone, stucco and metal details.