Until 2002 the universities’ Holloway campus Boiler House worked tirelessly and under intense pressure to keep two Lancashire fire tube boilers pumping, pushing and persuading heat and hot water around the building, occasionally letting off steam from its imposing tower. Radiating out from the very heart of the site this omnipresent throbbing, clanking, hissing warmth touched everyone…
Decommissioned in 2012, 2020 will see this disused and partially derelict building conceptually brought back to life as a new university event space: retaining the sense of industry, of graft, of working under pressure. Creating a centre of dynamic energy and warmth that draws in, and radiates out, to students, staff, and visitors: encouraging and enabling them to show, share and celebrate together.
This major project will be to redesign the two cavernous Boiler House spaces for a series of student conceived events and purposes – connecting out through corridors, through our departments and out into neighboring streets.
Studio 04 challenged our students in a short project, to re-imagine the Boiler itself as a creative machine, the sum of more than its parts: an animated, animating, mobile object with purpose:
Based on the form and function of the original boilers, the task is to re-purpose the outer shell and to re-imagine the interior: re-scale it, radicalise it, mobilise it, and propose a new temporary home for it.
The original boiler both generated and alleviated pressure, it warmed the buildings and the rooms and the people within them. Ensuring this happened required constant attention, persuasion, coaxing, and watching, gauging and adjusting. It had to be fed and watered, tended and maintained like a living, breathing beast. How could you harness this beast to get your message across?
The Boiler should be imposing, dynamic, visually arresting, and audibly present. It could open up, in, or out; it could rise up, or revolve. The revitalised content could entice, delight, revolt or re-assure. Is it a digital or a performance platform, an information or educational resource, a political soapbox, or a respite from the rain?
Inspired by the history, impact and working dynamics of industrial boilers and making both insightful and critical connections to contemporary issues and situations, these re-uses create scenographic, narrative led concepts exploring the socio-political impact we could have on, and with, our neighbours.