Buildings historically have primarily been seen as mono functional – that is designed around a specific use and largely closed to all but those interested in that use. Think of churches, factories, even offices and the shops we use. This kind of view historically paralleled how we have viewed the house as a series of definitive rooms, from the entrance hall, living room to the dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. Gradually this idea of compartmented living has eroded so that now we see blurring between the boundaries of what we see as activities not defined by rooms such as open plan kitchen living spaces.
So with our houses and now with the other buildings that make up the city. A number of aspects have changed here. Buildings need to be environments that we can afford to keep, so having a church to only use it or twice a week and then try and heat it from a cold start is not really viable. Another example is the stereotypical idea of work which has been transformed by digital innovation so that we can now work in many different contexts doing hugely different activities. Indeed our old idea of factories has been transformed in serving a host of new uses, a change which might go one step further with the developments of 3D printing.
In tandem, as we have had to rethink our buildings, we have adapted the activities that take place in them, how and when they open, widened access and a sense of welcome. Buildings as a result have become a multi-faceted resource to serve hugely expanded needs and constituencies. With that too we have had to re-imagine them - coining a flexible social work space typology to explain them.
Our Theatre Royal extension foyer has become a ‘social tree’ made up of a series of public platforms. In our project at St. Cecilia's Hall for the University of Edinburgh this hidden gem of a museum and performance space will become visible through the addition of a ‘communal tower’. At our project for Edinburgh Printmakers our proposal involves cutting a giant window in to what is essentially a factory for art, reasserting the role of art revealed through ‘contemporary window-dressing’. Whilst in Dunoon and Cambo these old warriors will find new life through the ‘fresh air of ideas’ blown through them.
Rooted in all these projects is a sense that architecture's role exploring the opening out of the house and office over the last fifty years is now a field of exploration for the interface of these buildings and the broader city. Buildings, rather than being boundaries, become transformed into thresholds to a new social experience.