Today we were introduced to our project for the second semester in a briefing at the Minories today, we were given a short presentation by OMCI which introduced us to the project and gave us an insight into how their company work and the projects that they have engaged. OMCI are a property buying company which means they buy properties, convert them and sell them on or let them out, their most recent purchase is The Greyfriars Hotel on East Hill in Colchester, the building has been of no use for quite some years but had much potential which was sought after by OMCI investments, the building started out as a family home, was then converted in to a school and is now undergoing more changes in to a 4* hotel. This project was different to the ones i have done over the last semester and previous years because:
- we are working in groups of three which are mixed
- there is a cash prize
- we are designing for OMCI
I am already exceptionally excited to start this project because I already feel as though I know a lot about the background of the building. After the presentation we were able to visit the hotel itself, however merely a building site of bricks and mortar I could still see the amazing potential that this building has to offer, it’s really exciting to visually experience the process during the construction. We were shown around the whole hotel – which was absolutely huge – including all of the suites which range from principal suites, junior suites and deluxe suites. The hotel also features a reception, a library, a private dining area, resturants and bars.
In the brief we were told that we will be designing for three different areas, These 3 areas include an unused staircase which will be protected and sealed off by glass, a ledge under a window, and a wall by a balcony. At first i was baffled but it all began to come together as the tour went on. When i understood the brief fully I began thinking of ideas for textile pieces and installments that could go in to these spaces, however the spaces were odd and in a small perimeter so it started to become a challenge, i could only really think of hanging decorations such as canvas’ and wallpaper, however as the project progresses i’m sure many more will spring to mind.
The most interesting part of this project is designing for a company, but also how we will act when working as a team – especially a team that we haven’t picked ourselves. In these teams we are asked to create an installation for one of the selected areas, we are then asked to later present our ideas to OMCI in order for them to judge our designs in order to pick a final team who will then go on to make a final creation for the hotel. I think i am going to find working as a team quite difficult at first as i have never worked as a team in something like this before and i am my own person, i like my own designs, so to link our designs together it’s definitely going to be a challenge.
As part of the project we have to create a story based on the history of the Greyfriars building, therefore a man named Alan Skinner visited us in the afternoon, Alan has worked in the building for over 20 years so obviously has great knowledge of it’s history and background due to his knowledge of the foundation through his own research and connections. He gave us a timeline of events starting from the Roman Invasion, Georgian and Victorian periods, family posession and its educational purposes.
Notes from Alan Skinner’s presentation:
- Colchester’s hidden history, heritage
- book and website published-public who have been involved in the building want to tell their story
- used to be a family home-car park and houses behind was the land of the property in 1700s
- georgian colours: cream, blues and greens
- different styles of curtains, sofas etc.
- no clutter, tasteful (in their terms) slightly understated in comparison to the Victorian era which was very much cluttered
- exotic and rare plants
- castle, military, business man, mixture of religious people, army people and local entrepreneurs passing through the building
- Eminent Victorian
- remembered as a ‘warm welcoming family home’
- more of a home than an institution
- 1904-sold to the ladies of nazareth (as written on deeds)
- french nuns
- converted the house and joined up with hillcress (wings) started a congruent school
- boarding school was ‘for the education of gentlemen’s daughters’
- over 100 years of education on the site (TLA, Philip Morant)
- craftsmanship behind all the paint in current refurbishment shows how wealthy the family were (1755)
- rain water head – John & Elizabeth Halls
- Dome has been refurbished
- Stain glass window (M.J.M – Jesus, Mary and Joseph)
- years of history on the site at least 250 years of heritage has been uncovered
- Botanical Gardens
Primary images of the building at it’s current state: