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Denkraum by Poppy Bevan

T­his project investigates the role of architecture in affecting human experience, specifically in relation to notions of the metaphysical, and in its potential role as an intermediary between existence and the nihilist abyss. The brief is based upon an architectural intervention which intends to heuristically aid in this individual philosophical enquiry into the nature of reality and being.

As a city, Newcastle is on the cusp of major social, cultural and physical change. It is a place open to visionary approaches to contemporary culture and on the verge of developing a new identity. This project aims to satisfy part of this new cultural condition; being the result of a decreasingly religious and increasingly secular society, which as yet has not the architectural means of satisfying genuine enquiry into the metaphysical side of life.

The site, Nobbys headland is laden with cultural responsibility as an icon for the city of Newcastle and a place which is a ‘living and accessible record of the nation’s evolving landscapes and experiences’. The site is a palimpsest; a place of transformation, initially a place steeped in myth, now a place shaped by human intervention. The project intends to build upon the site’s rich history as a local landmark, and embody the cultural evolution of the city, which is currently in the midst of an identity shift.

The architectural programme consists of five primary components which together form an architectural procession through space and reality. These are the Ascent, Revelation, the Descent, the Inner Room and Re-emergence. The first and last of these elements act as thresholds between the existing social, cultural and physical constructs of Newcastle as the entry and exit points of the project. These elements spatially and metaphorically aid in the individual transition between the profane and the metaphysical.