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The Infinite Chase

Year 3 Semester 1 - 2022

For Year Three Semester One Cultural Studies, I worked with fellow Strathclyde student Helena Hebecker to create a video submission, “The Infinite Chase”, that explores the design of the deck access in the context of a selection of Glasgow housing developments, from the point of view of a “chaser” stalking a resident. In particular, we investigated the idea of the infinitely long deck, as such a construction is allowed and specifically mentioned in the Building Standards Technical Handbook:

Standard 2.9.23 - "Where only one direction of escape is available, the travel distance along an open access balcony should be not more than 40m. However, where the balcony provides 2 directions of escape, the travel distance can be unlimited."

After taking practice footage in the department’s hallway, we decided on a portrait orientation, as we felt it made the deck access seem longer. We had the same reasoning for the movement between each photo - the chaser and resident move the same distances, but the chaser only moves once for the resident’s two moves.

The buildings portrayed in the film were chosen to show a wide variety of different deck access designs within Glasgow. The atmosphere across locations becomes increasingly dark as the film progresses to emphasise the duration of the chase and the increasing desperation of the resident. This feeling of terror is also supported by the choice in background music. Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude begins as a light drizzle on a sunny day that develops into a dark, heavy rainstorm with thundering notes.

In conclusion, deck access can offer a cheap, practical solution to the housing crisis, but if not designed with care, the ownerless access balcony can fall into disrepair due to a lack of understanding of who is responsible for these spaces.
Finally, our film highlights that Building Standards cannot always be taken literally - architecture requires an eye for design and plenty of common sense!


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