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A proposal for a commercial building on Armagh Street:

This was a proposal for a commercial building to replace a condemned 1970s office building on a site running between Armagh Street and Cambridge Terrace. The idea was to create an attractive, versatile and timeless building able to be assembled from a relatively small kitset of precast concrete components. The front and back facades were to be very similar, using the same elements.
inoffensive Edwardian Baroque
Armagh Street elevation

There would be a light-well about halfway along each side, one of which would light the stairwell. This would ensure that no lettable space would be more than eight metres from an operable window.

The ground floor is retail, possibly a restaurant which would make use of the river outlook to the back. The remaining floors would be set-up as office space, though they could easily be converted into apartments. The roof could be set up as a roof garden, but would be more likely to be occupied by a set-back sixth storey. The fifth storey has balconies rather than bay windows, but if the building were to be converted into apartments the bays could be converted into balconies too. The structure would have precast concrete double-tee floors and a raised floor system so that each space could be refurbished without interfering with the tenancies below. The ceiling heights would be about 3.3 metres to ensure that natural light can reach deep into the spaces, and to facilitate natural ventilation.

The exterior walls of this building would be structural, a frame massive enough to act as a perforated wall and remain elastic under seismic loads. The building should be stiff enough to rock on its foundations to dissipate energy. The heavy arch to the ground floor serves primarily to transfer lateral loads into the foundations, being in effect more a pair of heavy curved diagonal braces than an arch as such.

With careful repetition of the sculpted elements quite a bit of rich texture can be had without excessive cost. Sculpture at the top of the building needs to be bold, but can be quite coarse in its execution, and any element in this facade will be seen from no closer than two storeys up and across the road. The facade components would be mocked up in timber and plasticine, and a latex and plaster mould would then be taken. The concrete components that form the building would then be cast in these moulds, as many of each element as required, and on curing the componenets would be trucked to the site and assembled. This combines the skills already present in the garden ornament and the architectural precast concrete industries.
James Carr - June 2012