The Reading Room is the result of a collaborative and socially engaged educational activity carried out by the BA (Honours) Interior Architecture and Design course at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Canterbury School of Architecture.
During the academic year 2013-14, second year students worked together with lecturers on a live project, designing and building a Reading Room as a forum for public debate. This activity formed part of the course research agenda, which sought to explore the role of interior architecture and design in urban renewal. Specifically, it focused on the regeneration of Margate in Kent, one of the English seaside resorts experiencing a revival after years of economic decline.
The project was inspired by Margate’s Georgian reading rooms, the popular places where visitors were entertained during the town’s heyday in the late 18th century. Based on this historical precedent, students were asked to design a contemporary Reading Room as a platform for discussion about current issues affecting Margate. The result is a cohesive enclosure composed by a continuous bench supporting pivoting modules that can be configured to accommodate different events. While refining the overall structure, students designed their individual modules, facilitating a number of activities, all aimed to generate debate around regeneration initiatives in the town.
The Reading Room was installed at the old Pettman’s Depository – Resort Studios – in Margate in November 2013 to host a week-long series of events and talks. For the duration of the Folkestone Triennial 2014, the Reading Room continued its legacy at the Visitor Centre acting as a place for public forums as well as an information point for visitors.
This project was embedded in UCA’s involvement in the Interreg IV A France (Channel) – England project Recreate, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, involving partners and sites supported by this initiative.
Tutors: Lara Rettondini (Course Leader), Emma Bush, Matt Haycocks, Zoe Jones
Other Facilitators: Amie Rai (UCA Interreg/ReCreate Project Co-ordinator)
Students: Alanoud Al-Radaideh, Douglas Alves Moreira, Lily-Ella Buras-Rees, Felix Carter-Shaw, Sin Chan, She Chan, Sophia Clunies-Ross, Adelia Da Silva Neto, Kehan Dong, Eliot Jauregui, Xinzhou Jiang, Jocelyn Leechprey-Asea, Eleanor Musgrove, Sara Ogbonna-Godfrey, Rebecca Onafuye, Sara Ramos, Amy Richards, Bethia Thompson, Molly Walden, Ella Ward, Gemma Willis, Lydia Yohannes
Research Question: Explore the role of interior architecture and design in urban renewal