Circular Learning Centre
I. An Architectural Context.
My ongoing fourth year Interior Design outcome is an adaptation of an existing Gillespie, Kidd & Coia church, in response to research undertaken as part of Mass Extinction.
As discussed, post-war new town planning schemes and population dispersion led to a surge in construction of ecclesiastic spaces. Driven by the reinvention of the Catholic Church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Modernist-influenced structures were generated as tangible examples of the reinvented liturgical dynamic. Their current status, however, is as poorly maintained and somewhat dilapidated structures with a severe lack of public appreciation. In 2011 for example, St Martin’s Church of Castlemilk closed - it was the victim of a merge of local congregations that favoured the aesthetically classical design of a neighbouring Gothic church rather than the new-age Modernism of Glaswegian architectural practice Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. This is further exemplified when we approach the reason for it’s closure in the first place: a decline in social responsibility, engagement and, specifically, church-related activity. Thus, this project hypotheses a future community devoid of such religious spaces, a society with many abandoned and disused thanks to a rejection of both Modernist technique and liturgical practice.
II. A Circular Economy.
The churches of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia were constructed when the ability to mass consume and produce was a fresh concept. Now, natural resource depletion is accelerating; a 2014 report released by the European Commission details construction and use of buildings in the EU represents 35% of greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of all extracted material and 35% of all generated waste.
The current linear construction system of extraction-production-disposal has an alternative; the Circular Economy. Overarching Circular principles are centred around designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. The impact of a Circular Economy in an architectural context is crucial: there is a necessity for recyclable demolition or adaptation at the end of their current serviceable life.
Thus, the inventory of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia is a compelling example of space at the cusp of requiring such intervention. Fueled by my own current disillusionment with modern interior preferences - frivolous ornamentation and a general societal excess through consumerism - this project will attempt to explore how we can best communicate a shift towards a more socially responsible way of living and making, the Circular model. However, despite its clear environmental advantages, it is evident that this way of living is not widespread as of yet; a wider approach, beyond merely the technical aspects of it, is required.
III. An Existing Linearity.
Circularity acts almost as a new religion, in direct antithesis to conventional linear religious practice. This linearity has driven all forms of human life for over two thousand years. Traditional linearity is expressed through the priority of Resurrection; the Earth is seen as just a ‘transit area’ with little respect, a temporary solution before the Resurrection in Paradise in another dimension.
To implement Circular principles in our economy, the debate should not focus only on the technical conditions of it, but also identify the philosophical principles that drive our behaviours, consciously and unconsciously. Society needs to understand that we do not just exist for our linear selves, but we also work to assist future generations. We need to create conditions for sustainable existence for everyone, today and beyond. Indeed, if the main principles taught in education remain linear, then the notion of a Circular Economy will generate conflict and never appear at the heart of social and business models. This project aims to educate individuals to process more tangibly, providing a canvas to discuss and develop circular principles on an individual level, ultimately to advocate a wider civic transition.
IV. An Ecclesiastic Architecture.
This canvas will be an example of the aforementioned post-war eclesiastic structures of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, providing a tangible grounding for the incorporeal discussion parallelling religion. Specifically, St. Charles Borromeo Church, Kelvinside; a site currently under immediate threat from closure. My development regenerates the building to return to a municipal, social space for Circular learning through facilitating the allowance of Circular practice. On a human level, through exploratory awareness of the Linear and Circular models; what has been and what can be generated from this latter so far. Experiential, hands-on learning via exhibitions and studios. But also, on a structural level, the process of adaptive reuse in itself as a form of circularity; defining and questioning every element of materiality through both the waste stream generated and the new, introduced material. Thus, the building itself becomes an incubation of the research: a catalyst to promote, define and direct sustainable intervention across all human activities.