Behind the Facades

By Jason Men

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

Warehouse living is a condition born out of necessity but due to how these spaces are generally structured (a large communal/ working area on the ground floor and private quarters on the upper), a one-of-a-kind community is created, unprecedented in other parts of the city and an inspiration to how we can live. Nevertheless, their values are often overlooked, misunderstood and underappreciated as their external appearances are first to be misjudged. Through this project, I want to celebrate the neighbourhood’s unique architectural typology and honour the fleeting yet precious moments behind these facades.

Proposal Outline

The project aims to create a public home for the local community through familiar architectural elements and shared values of building facades, pitched roofs, colourful murals, bold staircases and space-saving mezzanines are explored to create this new space, which embraces notions of openness, flexibility, spontaneity and creativity.

The basic concept reinterprets three different building façades to form a two-storey construction by predominantly using wood as an alternative material (lightweight and accessible); vibrant colours extracted from the neighbourhood and an interplay of openings, in reference to the area’s unique fenestrations. More importantly, the facades also act as a blank canvas for local residents to express their diverse creative talents and showcasing them to a broader audience. They will become the main visible features facing Eade Road and residences around the site. Through experimenting with these basic components, the proposal can be readapted and rescaled accordingly.

Anchored to the ground floor timber decking, a rigid assembly of wooden beams and columns comes together to support the facades, an elevated timber platform and an open pitched roof skeleton above. This exposed structure is intended to portray a remnant of the design process built by volunteers and encourage the local community to further contribute to the project.

Visitors will be greeted by a standard metal staircase to the upper floor or a giraffe-shaped timber balustrade lurking over the ground floor. These two paths will meander through a variety of open and enclosed areas for public and private functions – movable partitions like fabric curtains can instantly transform the spacious ground floor into a meeting room or workshop area equipped with storage and a WC. Local enterprises for generating some income stream, art exhibitions, or a public lounge decorated with foliage and bookshelves can also set foot on the upper floor. Towards the end of these routes where they merge at the rear of the pavilion, a timber scaffold stands erect behind a wooden stage/ seating area and a community garden for growing plants and vegetables. At night time, the occupants can relax on a wide stair seating while enjoying a film screening or they can hang around at open spaces to contemplate on their surroundings.

An ideal dwelling should provide a safe, nourishing and long-lasting habitat and improve the well-beings of its inhabitants. The proposal is no different – local residents can feel secure activating new connections and conveying their interests away from the pressure of commodification and commercialisation. It endeavours to preserve authenticity, heritage and the hard work of the neighbourhood, especially when these qualities might be too precious to be sustained. As the pavilion might have an expiry date, it is essential a conducive environment is maintained throughout its lifespan by incorporating energy-efficient arrangements, such as passive ventilations and shades from the south-facing sun. Using locally-sourced materials (textile, wood, metal and waste material) wherever possible, the project can enjoy an afterlife journey, which can be recycled and dispatched away with the visitors.