The Urban Hiker project speculates on the future of tourism in Brighton in regards to climate change, where global temperatures have risen, and Carbon Emission Regulations have resulted in even more visitors to Brighton and an overcrowding of the city and its landmarks at street-level. With Brighton Station being the main entrance to the city, the Urban Hiker Scheme is designed to give tourists a new way to experience the city.
The Urban Hiker Scheme is a series of sky walkways that start at Brighton Station. There are three trails, taking visitors on a journey over the city and displaying Brighton’s landmarks. The trails are 2-3m from ground level and all lead to Brighton Hippodrome where visitors will enter into the (almost) ruin.
The Hippodrome is a Grade II* listed building located on Middle Street, which is classed in the Old Town Conservation Area by the council. Best known for its days as a theatre, the building now lies neglected and has been on the Theatres Trust list of at-risk theatres for fourteen years.
“The UK’s most architecturally significant circus theatre – the finest surviving example of its type in the country.” – Theatre’s Trust UK
The history of the building is varied, and it has played a vital role in Brighton’s tourism and entertainment over the years. However, new developers do not honour its history and the community has fought for it to remain a theatre (see short film below for more about the building’s history).
Inside the building I identified five zones that relate to points in the building’s history. Connecting these locations resulted in an interesting path through the building, travelling across three levels. Continuing the idea of hiking in an urban environment I designed an undulating walkway though the building that connects the points of interest and educates visitors about the building’s history. Similar to traditional hiking trails there are rest points along the walk, such as a café, water fountain, and benches.
Short film of the history of Brighton Hippodrome
To design the form of the walkway I sketched out the shape using parabolic curves – which can be created using a ruler to measure equal increments along two axes, then joining the points with straight lines to form a parabolic curve. The shape of the parabola provides a uniform flow to the walkway and draws the eye to a specific point. Parabolic curves are defined by the mathematical equation for a parabola, which in its simplest form is y=x^2
“A parabola is a curve where any point is at an equal distance from a fixed point and a fixed straight line.”
For material and structural choices, I decided upon scaffolding. The walkway is designed as a temporary structure and will be inserted without any major damage to the listed building. Scaffold is already used inside extensively as structural support for the existing building. The aim of the proposal is to be a relatively fast solution to the stagnant building. Work to restore the building can start with this project happening simultaneously. Scaffold will blend in, while also being low cost and quick to install (as well as being sustainable/re-usable).
The Urban Hiker Scheme at the Hippodrome is just one more part in the building’s varied history. With money raised from this scheme, as well as greater awareness of its place in Brighton’s history the vital structural renovations that the building needs will be able to be carried out. And eventually the total restoration of the building back into a theatre and entertainment venue so that it can once again provide enjoyment and memories for Brighton locals and tourists alike.