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MARCH 2014

Assyrian Carpet

At the Assyrian collection at the British Museum, set amongst the colossal gateways of winged beasts with human heads and resplendent reliefs of bloody scenes from lion hunts, there is a large gypsum alabaster stone panel that was once a decoratively carved and painted door sill made up of inter-weaving patterns and borders, in imitation of a magnificent carpet.

Now wall-mounted in its current home, its intricacies can be clearly admired. Alabaster was discovered by the Assyrians circa 879BC to be ideal for carving fine ornament detail, and huge pieces were accordingly quarried, transported and installed as panels in the internal rooms of royal palaces where reliefs or pattern befitting a king would be carved with an astonishing level of skill within a surface depth of 10-15mm.

For Niall McLaughlin Architects T1 project, carried out for Argent on the King’s Cross redevelopment site, a motif from this ancient panel is being incorporated, along with other patterns from ancient Egypt to the twentieth century, into a number of repeating pre-cast elements that will form the building’s decorative facades and bring this enigmatic piece of deracinated design a new lease of life.

We are currently working towards achieving this in a collaboration with the client and the project’s contractor and a team of architectural pre-cast specialists. After carefully interpreting the motif and integrating it into the facade scheme; the proposed design is now being taken forward by mould makers who are utilising 3D routers to form prototypes of a pattern mould. The first results, which are being awaited with no little anticipation by the design team, will be analysed and the depth and colour of the reliefs carefully calibrated. Within a short period of time the small extract of pattern from an Assyrian carpet in existence nearly three thousand years ago will have a physical presence as part of a tapestry of other pre-cast components on this distinctive building forming, part of this ambitious development in the centre of London.

Image of Assyrian carpet pattern engraved in stone from Gottfried Semper Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts; or, Practical Aesthetics, Getty Publications, 2004

Tim Burton studied architecture at London Metropolitan University and the ETH Zürich after a previous degree in Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmith’s College and experience within the film industry. He has also worked for Gramazio and Kohler’s Research Chair for Architecture and Digital Fabrication. Tim joined Niall McLaughlin Architects in 2012.  Since joining the practice, he has worked on a Peabody housing project in Whitechapel and the T1 Building for Argent in London’s Kings Cross. The T1 Building is a large mixed use development containing a district energy centre, an indoor sports pitch, car parking, shops, bars and 80 apartments.



Auckland Castle Competition Win

Niall McLaughlin Architects and Purcell have won the competition to transform Auckland Castle in County Durham into a national museum of religion and religious art. The former historic home of the bishops of Durham, the castle is considered to be the third most historically significant ecclesiastical complex in Europe, after the Vatican and Avignon. Auckland Castle was bought by businessman and philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer who aims to turn it into a major visitor attraction and heritage site in the North East.  The client hopes to receive funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of the project and set up the Auckland Castle Trust to oversee the restoration and development of the castle and grounds. The central attraction will be the rare paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán, considered to be some of the most significant religious treasures in Europe and part of the castle’s history for more than 250 years.

Auckland Castle Website



Completion of Carmelite Chapel

The new Carmelite Chapel for the Discalced Friars in Clarendon Street, Dublin is now complete. The Chapel forms part of St. Teresa’s Church and Priory and uses a pared-back post-and-beam framework to create a space which is conducive to prayer, song and private contemplation. The series of cross-laminated timber frames are turned at right angles to enclose the four sides of the space and form a woven structural lattice.