The Mount Sanctuary
For my thesis project I examined the issue of addiction in Northern Ireland and the need for a treatment facility specifically for adolescents. The brief required a site that is well connected to the city centre while also being private and isolated; a delicate balance of accessibility and introversion.
Located in ‘The Mount,’ located in East Belfast, the site was the location of Mountpottinger House - home of the famous Pottinger family - and as such was a particularly affluent area of the Victorian city. Now the area is run down, possibly due to it’s proximity to an interface between the Nationalist area of the Short Strand and the Unionist area of the upper Newtownards Road.
Despite this, remnants of it’s proud past are still evident, with a terrace of three listed town-houses dating from around 1850 which remain in a ruinous state on the south western edge of the site. As a metaphor for the spiritual rehabilitation of the Sanctuary’s residents, I proposed to retain the existing listed buildings, maintaining the scars of dereliction.
The brief was strikingly similar to that of a monastery; an enclosed residential environment dedicated to physical, mental and spiritual respite, a fellowship of individuals volunteering to become removed from the outside world in order to interrogate their own life and existence.
I set about drawing and trying to understand how monastery complexes operate in order to devise a spatial concept for my building. I found the Certosa di Firenze in Galluzzo Italy - an inspiration for Le Corbusier as described in his 'Precisions' (1930) - the most compelling plan.