Author: Gala Urroz
University of Bath
The Urban Lab is a civic space where the discussion focuses around how to create a better urban environment. It is a public space to promote architecture, host events and public consultations, and showcase future plans for the town of Dorchester and beyond, bringing primarily three stakeholders to the space: people, architects and planners.
It is not a political institution, or a generator of economic wealth. It is a learning space, where physical production is not a goal but a mere consequence of the questioning process and intellectual production from the side of everyone involved in the process. It encourages a collective approach to architecture and aims to empower both the local community and the architectural one.
The building wants to be an extension of the street, a highly public building that allows the visitor flexibility of movement and choice. The aim of the building is to question the normal organisation of a building which combines public facilities with working ones (offices, studios) by encouraging the interaction and mixture of all spaces and maximising the opportunities of collaboration between all the users. The Gem, placed at the centre of the plan, is meant to be a moment of revelation for the users as they walk through the building. Although its permanent function is of exhibition space, it tries to condense as much activity as possible, to make it vibrant at all times, day and night, summer or winter.