Breathe Breathe

Parkside View Project, Cambridge, England

Design Proposal, 2012

Breathe intends to create a grand entrance to the Parkside View building located on Parkers Piece; the new home for the fire station accompanied by luxury apartments above. Breathe incorporates three elements: a leaf canopy, tree trunks and etched glass doors. These features would connect the outside space with the inside space of the building’s courtyard through a magical passage that will be experienced not only by the property owners and fire station members, but also passers-by.

Breathe is informed by Parkers Piece; The London Plane trees that surround the area and the history of the fire station. The London Plane is very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction, and for this reasons it is a popular urban roadside tree.

The title refers us directly to the act of 'breathing' - as enabled by the pollution refining trees, and of course fire fighting - leading to saving lives, which is ultimately a question of being able to breathe. For Elpida, it also refers to being able to ‘take a breath’ and become aware of one's self in a particular moment or place. These ideas lead her to consider buildings as shells or bodies that protect us from our surroundings. The entrance to Parkside View can be seen as a form of protection from the outside world – taking the metaphor further; the ribcage that protects our lungs so that we can breathe.

The proposed work includes tree trunk-like sculptures referencing the muscular body, to be made from hundreds of stainless steel strips, twisted to form a supporting structure for the ‘leaf canopy’. The seamless glass walls of the entrance would be etched/sand blasted, with an intricate design influenced by lungs and tree roots.

Supporting organisations:
  • Grosvenor
  • Willmott Dixon
  • Glenn Howells
  • Cirrus Laser Ltd
  • Model made by: Turlough Murphy and Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva