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The Roundhouse: built heritage academy

The Roundhouse: built heritage academy

Authors: Arh. Ruxandra Vașcovici

Tutor: Prof. dr. arh. Dan Marin

Authors’ Comment

In the context of an acute crisis of the construction force, and with the galloping loss of technical know-how which is paramount for our architectural identity, the quality and authenticity of all built environment is decreasing. It is about the deep knowledge of elementary technologies, without which a good understanding of architectural details cannot be achieved. Moreover, a certain sense of materiality is missing, and it is obvious is many architectural related gestures. In such a grim scenario, the teaching and practical training of future specialists becomes imperative, their proper training contributing to the perpetuation of traditional construction techniques from which the old revives and the new is inspired.
Therefore, taking all these pressing issues into account, the project proposes The Roundhouse – a built heritage academy. A school of arts and crafts but much more than that, a workshop-like institution bringing together architects, students, construction engineers, landscape architects, archaeologists, art historians, as well as construction workers who want to specialize in a certain field, unemployed people interested in professional retraining or just passionate advocates for restoration. What is particular about the project is the site. The Roundhouse heritage academy is situated in the proximity of three 1906 railway heritage buildings situated in Suceava (a train draw, a water tower and a former barrack) and is included within the industrial architectural ensemble. Thus, the historic buildings have a winning chance of being properly preserved, and the apprentices can be inspired, on site, by real examples of spectacular bonds, framings and joineries.
Specifically, there are three main areas that mingle with the notions of public/private space and indoor/outdoor space. Towards the train draw, there are more public indoor facilities, such as a café bistro, a technical library, a cafeteria and accommodation facilities, a reception desk and administrative offices. Thus, the roundhouse nearby is intended to be a venue – an event and conference hall hosting themed demonstrations and skilled speakers in a generous, inspirational space dominated by the metal structure of the roof. The triangular outdoor public square invites and reminisces about the former train paths that once entered the building. Towards the water tower there are the indoor workshop spaces, specialized in the 4 main materials used throughout the area over time: wood, metal, clay and stone. Each particular material – related workspace is provided with its own outdoor workshop area so that people passing by can observe craftsmen and apprentices at work. Nearby, the former barrack is well suited for the proper storage of materials, especially dry wood, this being an extremely important technical aspect.
Everything is connected through a monumental structured entrance that acts like a transparent filter, bringing the more public and the more private parts of the academy together over a generous exhibition space that can display all the works done during apprenticeship. The works welcome you and introduce you to the world of crafts.
The adjacent water tower becomes an ideal observation point, the vertical accent of the ensemble, the signal – like object that inspires creativity among learners through its structural aesthetics. Everything is, therefore, framed by this new, long, sculptural object that unifies the image of the heritage railway ensemble like a background screen.

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