The White Bay Power Station, a heritage listed former coal-fired power station is the site for the 2015 graduation project.
During the site visit to the White Bay Power Station, Grace my research partner, pointed to the transformer alley and said something about a ‘corridor experience’ – in this case a narrow space inevitably created by the construction of two large buildings on both sides. Following her signal I noticed the plants – weeds sprouting from between cracks on the concrete floor and vines crawling up water stained brickwork of the now defunct power station.
Grace and I spent the semester that followed soaking in basically everything we could find out about WBPS to contextualise the site in our heads. We wrote reports after reports. I feel fairly certain that Grace has still got parts of the Conservation Management Plan memorised.
Together we analysed the existing materials and how they have aged, calculated areas and volumes of flooring voids, counted the number of columns and beams, searched for a rhythm in window and door openings… hoping for a spark that would set the rest of the project in motion. We also did a timeline study of the power station, which was the point in time that lit up that spark for me.
What is REVIVAL?
My proposition for WBPS is a revitalisation of a former industrial site into a series of creative and recreational spaces, including contemplative spaces, studio rooms, artist spaces, function spaces and a bar. I wanted to use a simple material palette made up of mostly what is found on site such as concrete and steel, however with a new injection of life. The heaviness of concrete is lightened with pastel blends and varying textured finishes. Likewise, steel gets powder coated in different colours, enhancing the columns and playing with the existing industrial structures. Copper and lighting trim details can be found throughout the interior spaces, left for the visitor to discover.
White Bay Power Station itself is an endless process of growth and decay. Over the years as a matter of operation, the station went through a process of building and tearing down. With each transformation, it gains and loses. The construction of large new structures in turn triggered a parallel growth of corridors and alleys forming in-between. This systematic and purely functional evolution gives room for an organic co-existence that seems to thrive on its own long after operations have ceased.
The questions were: what could an interior designer bring to the table for a site of such magnitude? How does one answer the need for a modern interior while responding to the site’s nature, filled to the brim with artefacts and history at every turn, every narrow stairwell, every column? How could a building once used to house machinery be adapted for people?
Gradually the answer began to emerge, as simple as the problem was complex: the quiet negative space would be overlaid onto all six buildings to create new paths and openings to existing roads for public access. Where these paths lie, greenery crawl up new concrete structures that follow the formation of existing columns and beams like a dialogue. This would go on to serve as the planning strategy that guided the interior spaces.
My vision for the project is to create an experience that takes a person through WBPS. I want the spaces themselves to be interesting, comfortable and yet remain adaptable to changes and evolutions. For me REVIVAL is a gateway process — it is a growth from within, and it’s only the beginning.
2015 BIA Graduation Exhibition – Imprint
Opening night Tuesday 24 November
Exhibition open to the public 25-27 November
Graduation Exhibition Committee 2015
Bachelor of Interior Architecture