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ambassadors-office
program and event

revealing hidden potentialities or contradictions in a program, and relating them to a particularly appropriate spatial configuration, may create conditions for unexpected events to occur”1

The centre looks to promote Britain through the process of curating the creative economy in a market retail scenario. The piazza becomes a market for cultural exchange in a variety of degrees of formality. The marketplace defines the piazza level of the building which uses theatrical gantry technologies to allow for walls or elements of shelter to be positioned into an arrangement to suit the current set of ‘exhibitions’. This is in line with current FCO policy which agrees that “the nature of diplomacy is changing. Where Embassies have historically been seen as the most un-public of public buildings…public diplomacy initiatives are leading us to increase the spaces within an Embassy where we can show off British culture and products and where visitors can find out more about Britain in our one-stop shops”.2 Whilst this is an extract from a government report there are, as yet, no examples of this concept in built form. The Sao Paulo centre (see appendix) is the closest it comes to a precedent but it is desperately short-sighted in its design where an atrium is the exhibition space which is only accessibly through the perimeter fence and security at the door.

“We expect flexibility from our buildings, to be able to respond to future changes anticipated throughout their operative lives…flexibility includes scope for expansion where practicable, and scope for reduction of activity through subletting or disposal of surplus space, without compromising ongoing activities or security.”3

The general term ‘creative’ is dangerous as it assumes all the products from the industry are alike in form. The reality is that the exports range from completely virtual like consultancy and digital technology to the classically physical such as crafts or fashion. The flexibility of the marketplace is essential then because the ‘products’ cannot always be treated as objects like in a museum. The building must be the definition of flexible is it is to serve all the elements of its potential activity. The program is not so much a set of static spaces but a space of potential and shifting character.

1: Bernard Tschumi, Event Cities 2, p13
2: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Estates Strategy Plan, 2004
3: Ibid

circulation

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