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scottish screen archive

UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH (E.S.A.L.A) M.Arch – 2009/10

The present Scottish Screen Archive contains over 30,000 items of film related media, including original and unique historical newsreels, movies, film scripts and memorabilia. At present the Screen Archive is located in an industrial estate unit on the outskirts of Glasgow. This location is very inaccessible to the public, and the public’s awareness of the resource available to them is not very high.

My proposal is to build a new home for the Scotland’s film archives. I visited the facilities curator, where we discussed what in her experience, would be her ideal film archive building. I used this information to form a brief.

My brief asks for:
safe and secure climate controlled storage for the extensive archives.
Restoration facilities
Individual screening rooms
Large cinema auditorium
Café/Bar
Outside Public Space.
Box Office
Future filmmaking/ workshop space

My chosen site is a currently vacant piece of land in Edinburgh City Centre. The site on Potterrow, is in close proximity to the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh University campus, as well as a short walk to the National Library of Scotland, who in fact run the Scottish Screen Archive. This location I believe would allow far greater access by the public and taps into the existing infrastructure of learning resources in the area.

I have taken inspiration from the ornate and decorative early art deco cinema buildings, which provided a magical backdrop to watching films- something many modern multiplex cinemas have not. I was attracted to the motif of the tree- following the tradition of art deco architecture referencing natural forms in its decoration. The tree also has connotations of growth and a continued presence over time- something that I relate this archive to. A early design decision I made was to enclose an area of the site as a green oasis, a zone and source of clear air to feed into the storage vaults. I have extended this open space to much of the site, but raising up the body of the building on stilts (or trunks to continue the tree analogy) This allows the public to pass though the building complex and become more aware of the facility, as well as giving a new public space to the city.

These trunk rise up through the building into the main auditorium space, forming , individual viewing rooms within the grand cinema space. The outer surface of the viewing rooms acts as exhibiting space, and the platforms above contain seating to view the main cinema screen.

On the opposite end of the courtyard connected by a walkway, is the film restoration facilities as well as new filmmaking workshop space. Rising above these rooms is a structural framework into which prefabricated, custom built archive rooms can be craned in. It is important to provide the infrastructure to allow for future additions as the archive grows, but it is also impossible to anticipate what format these archives of the future will take, and so this design allows the most appropriate room to be constructed at the time that it is required.

The façade of the building is constructed by 3 levels of prefabricated concrete panels- each with increasing size openings towards the top. Around the auditorium, a double skin is created by adding a sunscreen and acoustic barrier on top of this. When a film is showing, the sun screen can be closed, and open at other times of the day- adding an animated nature to the outside of the building, and is a practical way to allow for natural ventilation as well as natural daylight in a typically artificially lit space.

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