Portfolio compiled for March (part 2) application

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Muna Abdallah

University of East London


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My London

For me, one of the most remarkable aspects of London is how honest it is. Layers upon layers of what this city was, is and what it hopes to be in the future are all intertwined to make a complex network of systems that all work together symbiotically. For every step this city takes towards the future, consideration of context, history, culture and art means that we carry the old version to the future, morphing it into something else rather than creating a new one. Perhaps this is why London, and other similar cities(Rome, Venice, Paris,etc.), are so successful in creating that “impression”, because they have grown so organically and with out force or haste.

Buildings have evolved from cottages to terraces to estates to high rise complexes and now to barricaded constructions sites, covered like present to the city. But London is not only expanded out and up but also from the inside. Existing buildings/structures that were perhaps factories or industrial sites have been renovated and given a new lease of life as homes and offices. The “warehouse conversion” craze is perhaps justified for a London lover, someone who wants to inhabit a place that was something else once.

Warehouse conversion(Telegraph)

Transport  Infrastructure is perhaps more telling, as more people move to London, the center finds itself under strain to meet expectations, and this has given an equally strong drive for many central stations to be renovated. St Pancras stations is a great example for the hybrid design that both appreciates Victorian Engineering feat and meets current demands.

St Pancras Station Completed in 2006
London Bridge Visualisation
Paddington Station Visualisation

About a month ago, I stumbled upon a set of railway arches that ran in parallel to a path. I had taken a detour from my usual walk for lunch one afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to find these arches. Each the size of a small hall, intimate, calm and spacious.

20150402_150701 20150402_150736

There are many similar arches like this one around London, varying in scale. Many have been built up to create offices, storage, parking, others are so wide that roads run under them. I have also spoken on numerous occasions to a colleague about such spaces as we were preparing for a competition. What are they used for? how else could they be used? why do they need to be used? what do they represent?

Overview map

Perhaps the mistake we made the first time round was that we started with a theme from which this site was selected when in fact the space created by the arches was a concept in itself. The space created by the arches was a result of an engineering feat by the Victorians. A method of building a continuous bridge on which the train could be carried along with out resulting in a solid wall being built up and separating two sides. The spaces are as much perforations as they are paths or tunnels or rooms. Closing them is perhaps not the right thing to do, especially if the connection between the two sides is still important today.

Just as London progresses and improves but still carries its past with it. Perhaps the same can happens here. The site is used as a travel route for many but is not well lit in the evening/ at night and is quite desolate during the day..The space under the arches (and the adjacent path) has the potential to be occupied occasionally or even as a one-off intervention and to be celebrated as a small part of what makes London.

It can be gentle reminder for its temporary inhabitants that it too was something else once.

Highlights of South Korea

korea map


A view from Seoul Metropolitan History Museum.


Cheonggyecheon, Seoul river in the day


Cheonggyecheon, Seoul walking to dangdaemun by the manmade river at night


Seoul Gyeongbukgong


Busan Fish Market


A view from Busan tower to the port


Busan Near Beomeosa Temple


Danyang sambong


Danyang Gosu Cave


Enroute to Sokcha


Temple near Sokcha


Sokcha seaside! Beautiful blue sea


Seoul national history museum

Ausfahrt! travelling through Frankfurt and Stuttgart


A Short trip to catch up with a former university friend in February and tour around Frankfurt and Stuttgart city.


 Friday night: Frankfurt Business District in sight from one of the bridges


Saturday morning: A similar view of the business District, We walk along Eiserner Steg Bridge


Similar to Pont des Arts in paris, Eiserner Steg featutres love padlocks along either sides of the railings.

The inscription on the top left of the image is a quote from Homers’ Odeyssy:

While sailing over the wine-dark sea to men of strange speech


A gentleman with an interesting musical instrument climbing the stairs at one of the metro stations


Sunday: Having Travelled to Stuttagert on satuday evening, we head out for a late breakfast and a drive before making our  way back to the airport.

This is Stuttgart City library, it was such a shame that I did not have the chance to go in and have a look.


Hilly Stuttgart


Sunday afternoon/evening: A great ending to the weekend, having traveled by car for the most part of my trip, I have frequented the word ‘Ausfahrt’ several times. I have come to now know that this means to exit (e.g from a highway).

I feel that this trip has truly been a short lived- but nonetheless a worthwhile and rejuvenating- exit from the long road I am taking in my everyday life here in London.

I hope to be revisiting Germany very soon to visit my friend and perhaps learn a few more words along the way.


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Architecture and me.

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