The Urban Mantelpiece

 The Urban Mantelpiece is a speculative response to the the consequential effected of population displacement due to the predicted mass Climate Migration of up to 1 billion people by 2050. The thesis explores the future of sustainable development within hyperdense urban areas by investigating the possibility of building on top of the already existing urban fabric – alternative to merely building new taller towers. It requires no major demolition or exploitation of natural landscape, as well as conserves urban identity. The symbiotic proposal is an elevated urban infill, enhancing the value of community by connecting the old with the new. 

Glasgow, possessing a historical capacity to receive more inhabitants from Industrial Revolution to Globalisation, along with its bearable future climate and surplus water supply, it will become one of the main destinations. Therefore, by speculating Glasgow as a hyperdense urban area where a massive portion of the population are displaced from home, the thesis also explores the underlying psychological issue of Homesickness – feeling displaced and a lost sense of belonging. 

Using the metaphor of a Mantelpiece – every household’s furniture of sentiment , the thesis muse on the play of nostalgia and the city’s spirit of place. The proposal observes the life of the city as it goes by, while at the same time shelters the memories inhabiting within. Instead of eclectic figurines or picture frames, curated on the Urban Mantelpiece are a series of different states of mind a person might seek in order to uplift and comfort the psyche. They are attended to through different experiential spaces and activities – from intimate reunion, blissful rest, environmental hideaway, mindless wander, mental escape, social engagement to blinded distraction. 

Entering from back laneways on ground level through vertical core to the roofscape, not only the proposal reactivates the underused urban space but also induces a sense of child-like discovery and local ownership. Once coming out to the open above the skyline, the 5 metre wide Vierendeel truss structure edges along the city, atop the existing built context. The proposal is an extended public realm that offers a space to both socialise or be in solitude. The flexible multi-program that operates on a 24 hour basis tests the limits of inhabited public space amid the vastness of the growing urban enormity. 

Serving as an anchor for the local community, the proposal is even more so as a localisation of new memory – embedded in between the skyline of monuments and vistas. The Urban Mantelpiece is an alternative mind sanctuary that aims to relocate a lost sense of belonging by cherishing and celebrating memory, the present and the inevitable change and creating new connections between the city, the city dwellers and the horizon beyond.