W Pavilion for Nomadic Beings

By Jing Qiao and Xiang Ren

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

Harringay Warehouse District has strikingly grown in its own way from a derelict industrial area into a self-organised creative community in the past 20 years. With deep respect of this, the key design vision of “W Pavilion” aims to anchor this new contemporary space of possibilities in the existing industrial ruin, by creating a stronger shared image for hundreds of local artists, makers, musicians and entrepreneurs living and working in this neighbourhood. Hopefully it will mediate the confrontation between the foreseeable top-down forces and the bottom-up needs and spirits through nurturing a collective sense of belonging in Harringay Warehouse District.

Proposal Outline

The key design strategy of the W Pavilion is to construct a familiar sense of place with an unfamiliar, forward-looking spatial language, by echoing the physical qualities as found and lost sprits of both original and surviving industrial buildings, forms and places of production.

Specific design tactics include:
1) Building this pavilion is building a roof. A single roof and the shared space beneath the roof represent a strong, shared image of all local residents and passer-by;
2) Maximising the irregular site’s spatial usability and potentials for a scaled-down, phased construction through a modular system, with each modular unit occupies 4 square meters (2*2m in square);
3) Opening up the new pavilion to the streetscape, especially enhancing the street corner presence through limiting the load-bearing structures’ footprint and overhanging the roof structure to present a welcoming gesture;
4) Articulating a three-dimensional spatial frame under one roof shelter, open-plan, top-lit, double-height, low-impact materiality, expressive in its tectonic structure and colour scheme, flexible in its use and welcomes creative re-appropriation;
5) Designing for de-assembly and demountability through flexible timber joints which are user-friendly for future adaptations.

These modular roof structure forms a composition of triangle shapes on the elevation, in two different scales, to represent an inverted warehouse space, which was a key physical character from the industrial buildings in the neighbouring areas. The roof truss structure, elevated 4 metres above ground by 6 freestanding ‘dancing’ columns and assembled by smaller scaled timber components, provides a space of generosity and possibility to nurture multiple activities and ordinary moments in daily life. The top larger scale ‘hats’ works as a beacon for celebrating the ritual events and projecting to the wider streets lives especially for those passing along Seven Sisters Road.

Under this single shared roof structure, there are circular ring beams at different sizes fixed underneath, to provide a flexible ‘hanging’ system, on which light fittings for acoustic performances and soft partitions such as fabrics for workshops can be mounted easily. This enables a very flexible space for different forms of temporary events that can constantly happen and change quickly.

All roof structure and these modular structures are made of timber, low impact and user friendly. The load bearing columns are made of CLT (Cross Laminated Timber), which can be prefabricated and cut in shape by CNC. Overall form has great advantages for a rapid assembly and construction on site, taken the considerations of cost, time and labour production for this project. The space and structure is flexible in use and reuse when needed, and adaptable to changing needs and multiple uses, for example small or large scale gatherings, meetings, musical performances, various forms of markets and workshops.