The HC Night Club (Leicester 1998)


The Holy CrossIn the first stage of research, a few buildings were selected based on my requirements of a perfect nightclub to cater especially to people in the twenties and thirties. Among the requirements are a building with splendid structures, high ceiling and an interior with a particular design. The Midlands Bank in Grandby Street and the Museum in New Walk (both at Leicester, UK) were taken into considerations, eventually the Holy Cross Church in New Walk were chosen because it meets most of the nightclub requirements.

The Holy Cross InteriorThese days many ecclesiastical buildings have been converted for other uses such as galleries and some have even become dwelling places. In Italy many of these buildings have been converted into pubs and bars after the authorities declared them as no longer a place for worship. Such buildings that were used for worship have to be de-consecrated before being used for other purposes. In this project, the purpose is to convert this particular interior space into a nightclub. The following stage of research is the surveying of other pubs, bars and nightclubs for the purpose of extracting the best qualities from them. One of the good points I noted down during my interviews with the people was that they especially like to be in a place where there is an individual design of its own. Most of the young people would like to be in a place where they can experience technologies. With these and many other results, I began composing and putting my nightclub into perspective. Many entertainment technologies were found on the Internet because those that were found there are the most advanced in the field in terms of design & technology.  

Development of Concept

Having the old building and the entertainment technologies on hand, the 'Transition' concept was produced. In the early part of design, this term was not stable and fully realised until at a later stage when everything began to work together. Through much design developments and observation of the design elements in the Holy Cross, the concept was strengthened.

ModelsThe Transition conveys a few meanings. Both the walls and structures of the exterior and the interior of the Holy Cross are not touched, leaving everything as it is in its own beauty. A completely new structure was introduced that will harmonize with the existing building with its design. Therefore, people coming into the interior do not experience a sudden change of mood and design. It is a subtle effect of contrast between the two, it is a transitional period from the old to the new - 'stuck in the middle'. It is a transition from the existing design element found in windows, arches, doors, and columns to a futuristic design. It is a combination of both but the priority is placed on 'futuristic' by using new materials where design is made. The aesthetics of the existing design elements are retained. The traces of these elements can be found on all my design particularly the windows, the components of the staircase, handrails & banisters, the bar and the furniture. All materials are carefully chosen as to fit seamlessly into the existing interior, which are composed mostly of stone and timber.

The Design

My design method was to work from 'big to small'. The first stage of design was to consider the layout. Over 15 development sketches of the plan was done before finalising the layout plan. At this stage, the initial free-standing structure was introduced and developed further to fully utilise the given space.

hcp04.jpgThe special effects & lighting dome came into the development halfway through planning the dance floor. Since the dome and the dance floor are the centre of attraction, I placed them in the core of the building so that all the other areas on the sides have easy access to it. The raised dance floor is designed in such a way that everyone in almost anywhere in the building can see it. This serves the purpose of people showing themselves off while dancing. The powerful special effects & lighting dome standing 9 metres above cast disco lighting directly towards the dance floor below. This feature has 4 supporting structures with 3D Screens attached to them showing the DJ and music TVs on each one of them. These TV screens are tilted at an angle so that they can be seen in all areas either on the 1st floor or the ground floor.  

hcp05.jpgThe bar is located at north of the entrance just after the dance floor. The size of it is specially designed to cater to a large number of people. On both sides of the bar are the seating areas. The centre space is where people come to get a drink back to where they were on the ground floor. A much smaller bar on the 1st floor is located in the Quiet area where people can get away from loud music. This area has softer music on the background and has sound proof glass panels to keep the noise from coming in.

After planning the huge areas, I came down to the details of design. Much time was spent observing, extracting and developing the design elements from the Holy Cross. All these elements can be seen on the handrails, banisters, supporting structures, windows, the bar and the furniture pieces. The design in each one of was carefully done so as stay within the limits of my concept.

Presenting it on Computer

The Dome
The purpose of CAD (Computer Aided Design) is to make designing easier and faster for everyone. Though it is true that CAD is only a tool for a designer, and that a designer still needs his drawing & designing skills as a foundation of all design. It has come a long way since it was first introduced. For example, drawing a mirrored object like the other half of a tracery window is quite time consuming and difficult using the T-squares and circle templates. In CAD, you just have to draw half of it and mirror it with only a click of a mouse button. Choosing and experimenting with colours or materials in an interior or on furniture has never been so easy with CAD. There is a wide selection of materials and millions of colours to choose from the computer as part of the experimentation. If you are not happy with a certain kind of materials, you just have to re-assign the object with another materials without having to re-draw the object and colour them as in using pen & water colour. If you are proficient in using CAD, you can be surprised how real the computer can make a piece of furniture with wooden or other materials look like compared to the real world with its natural grains. One can even assign a stone material to the wall or column with textures on it like some images on my presentational board, so that when light is casts on one side, you see the imperfection of stone like in the real world. It is very deceiving to our eyes when a computer image is properly done. All these gimmicks depend on the skill of a CAD operator. If one is not proficient, the computer images may come out flat like cartoons without realistic shadows and materials.

hcp07.jpgIn this age, people are moving towards CAD to present their products or interior architectural design. Even before an interior or architecture is built, the client is able to take a walk through his dream house and make changes to it. A good CAD operator always makes everything as real as possible compared to the real world so that the client is able to really experience the feeling and mood of the interior before finally buying the design.  

The presentations of the nightclub design are all 3D models created on the computer. It took a few days to model the Holy Cross right down to details on the columns, arches, windows & doors and approximately 6 weeks to model the new design including all lighting effects and atmospheres. The lighting and moods of the nightclub if in reality should be as those shown on the visuals. This presentation is accompanied by a 3.23-minute computer animation walkthrough with sound & music.


The Model
The animation tells a story about my university project and my dream to build a nightclub design. It all began in my small room at Lawrence Kershaw Hall. The computer, my books, sketches, pen, water bottle & glass, the pictures on the table and the Holy Cross model are all constructed in the 3D world to fit the items on my table and of course, it is much better looking than what I really have around my table. The atmosphere is a soft and warm room in the evening where I always have only my table lamp on. The soothing music playing on the background was a lovely tune. So I was there, working on this unending project in my computer. While relaxing and peering over to the left, I saw the picture of my mom and me at the airport just before I arrive in this cold land. Recalling how hard she had to work to support me for my studies here, I would never want to disappoint her. After a few moments while dreaming away, the cardboard Holy Cross model on the corner of the table suddenly emits a brilliant ray of white lights. I seemed to be getting smaller as I drift helplessly towards the arch doorway. I was eventually transported into another world with a very loud music and heavy atmosphere in the surrounding. Finally I came to realise that it was actually a nightclub! In that place, I saw all the design I wanted. After going round and round the dance floor with an animal made of steel materialises before my eyes, a huge light-emitting dome abducted me just before everything exploded into oblivion. At an instance, I was back in my room. Thus, with much inspiration from that short experience, I begin my quest of completing the nightclub design.
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All objects in the image above are computer generated.