Siân McGrath

Siân McGrath


Reuse Reimagined

How do we tackle the reuse of difficult structures? That architectural question inspired this project. To properly explore the full potential of reuse as a response to climate breakdown and dwindling resources, we need to consider the reuse of a range of structures, including unconventional ones. Industrial structures, for example, were not intended for human inhabitation, and their scale and articulation do not immediately lend themselves to such. How can we ensure that these large and alien forms (such as those from the petrochemical industry) are reconfigured to create psychologically comfortable environments for people?    

The imagination of a five-year-old is a precious resource. Young children have experienced very little of the world, so their imagination has yet to be influenced by conformity (changing our behaviour according to social norms). As a result, five-year-olds are still very intuitive in responding to certain forms, which can be studied by analysing their play. In theory, their intuitive reactions bring us much closer to more profound, more innate responses (which are masked by societal influence as we age). Tapping into these innate responses could help establish a series of baseline principles that ensure psychological comfort at a deeper, more evolutionary level.  

The scope of this project may only begin to scratch the surface of exploring this hypothesis. Still, it makes a bold statement about the future of the architectural profession and how we approach design challenges. Architecture created from the fragments and relics of a reused structure can still be made in a way that prioritises human experience. To cater for human experience, we need to study human experience and understand the innate instincts that make us who we are. Perhaps, sometimes, architects need to step outside an architect's mind and instead enter a five-year-old's liberated imagination. 


Graduation date: 13 September 2022 
Graduation committee: Elsbeth Ronner (mentor), David Keuning, Kamiel Klaasse 
Additional members for the exam: Jo Barnett, Peter van Assche

Back to list