The site for the studio’s work occupies a nexus of conflicting agendas. The sprawl of the academic corridor; the hinterlands and grain fractures of the viaduct; the fungal growths of cottage industry in spaces overlooked by the pattern-book developers of downtown; the shadow of the recycling centre and the city’s hidden infrastructures. Here, anything could happen.
For the intrepid, a journey to the wilds of the Downs is possible in a virtually-unbroken thread of greenery – thickets, parks and scrubland. The marks of growth and decay are evident everywhere, the derelict structure and broken gates opposite simply another part of the lifecycle of the land. Even the vocabulary hints at contested space – Freehold Terrace, renamed in 1951, perhaps expressing the socialist agendas of its time.
Up the road in the other direction, past the artists’ community, the pavement deteriorates. The bric-a-brac of houses and sheds gives way to the subtly-gleaming silos of the waterworks. Dive through hedge portals, roll down the fields, downs in miniature, to fetch up against the do-gooders of Shabitat, preaching the virtues of cradle-to-cradle remanufacturing and good bacon sandwiches.
The building is design of necessity, unconscious of style. Our 1970s industrial lump rubs up comfortably with the nobbly Victorian terraces of Hollingdean Road. Current guardians, Edwards Modular Controls, are quietly turning out high-tech knobs and dials for unknowable purposes in a hive of wires, machines and coffee cups. The place is nothing and everything at once. A forgotten place; a secluded space in which to build an identity.