What defines a home?
Our ambitions for housing at the former Carnatic Halls of Residence began in the autumn with this question in mind, through an intimate, introspective exercise of memory and recollection. This would continually lace its way into our thinking in the first semester and beyond, as we worked tirelessly through group research tasks to delve into past and present precedents of housing. Elements of space, materiality, and atmosphere thus emerged to aid us in illustrating our representations of the ideal home; and as such, with tired eyes and development booklets piled high we inched ever closer to answering this question.
With this research-based foundation having been meticulously laid, the second semester brought with it a new year, a new decade, and the same queries. To wash away any weariness from the first semester, however, came a brief idyll amidst the waters of Venice. Greeted by a striking sunset above a seemingly endless sea, we floated on vaporetti to our temporary Venetian homes, excited by the expectation of adventuring into the unfamiliar and unknown. From visiting the works of Scarpa to standing amongst the spandrels and seagulls of Piazza San Marco, our exploration of canals, museums, and housing was arguably only bettered by the local restaurants. It was a trip that surpassed all expectations.
On our return to Liverpool, many of us continued to develop the themes explored in semester one, but now within the context of Carnatic and the wider suburb of Mossley Hill. Looking beyond the ageing student halls so familiar to many of us, the potential of Carnatic became increasingly evident. Insulated by its stone boundary wall, the site itself is a beautiful piece of woodland. Extra care was therefore required when considering its abundant greenery, which highlighted the importance of balancing the relationship between nature and architecture. In response to these site conditions, we further contemplated the sustainability and social influence of our work through design strategies aiming to minimise environmental impact, whilst maximising social activity and integration.
The continuity of research through both semesters gave a considerable depth to our work, helping to define our architectural concepts at a much more precise level. Furthermore, the involvement of the City Council and notable guest reviewers allowed us access to increasingly thorough and constructive feedback. A special mention must also be given towards our Masters trio, from whom we were able to learn from and guide each other towards conclusions that would inspire and influence our future work.
With spring came an exhausted, excited anticipation for the end of the year and our degrees. But in early March, news of the University’s closure for the pandemic filtered through, and all of a sudden desks were cleared, drawings were brought home and doors were locked, indefinitely. Photos from Venice were left behind, still posted to the studio walls.
It would be convenient to allow the pandemic and its rippling effects to define our year; yet we persevered, united as a studio through WhatsApp and Teams. We continued working towards the creation of new houses at Carnatic as we now sat in the comfortable confines of our own, continually questioning the nature of the home.
Grace, Haziq, and Yiton
Andrea McFarlane (S1)
Bo Yean Teng
James Taite (S1)
Joe Bovingdon Wood
Rachel Mc Carthy
Soniamaria Lo Sapio
Yichun Wang (S2)
Dr Marco Iuliano