Pow Castle

Originally published at: https://www.ronenbekerman.com/?p=134843

Pow Castle

Official name: Savannah Powder Magazine
Built: 1898
Abandoned: 1963
Architects: Alfred S. Eichberg and Hyman Witcover
Location: Savannah, GA
Size: 1,700ft² (158m²)
Original Use: Storage of municipal dynamite

Pow Castle is a small, 123-year-old castle-like structure hidden within the woods of Savannah. Its original purpose was quite simple: to store the city’s supply of dynamite safely away from populated areas. It has been abandoned and vacant for nearly half its life.

In terms of adaptability, the windowless, 18in-thick (46cm) brick-walled structure is imposing and intimidating! Converting this building will demand thoughtful consideration. My proposal is to explore the use of light to transform Pow Castle and its 15-acre wooded site into an after-dark illuminated nature park.

In terms of visualization, I’m hopeful that the small scale will allow me to more fully investigate site design and materiality details.

Looking forward to this competition and seeing what everyone dreams up!


Dynamite idea you have there! :slight_smile:

Welcome to the challenge, Evan. Best of luck to you…

Interesting, I will attentive to see the progress!

Pow Castle Pavilion will be the crown jewel within Pow Castle Night Park, my proposal for a 15-acre network of forested trails curated with installations by artists working specifically within the medium of light.

The open-air pavilion will host circulating light art installations, exhibitions, and small musical performances. An elevated walkway will lead visitors through the space and also allow for moments of rest and contemplation. A new glass-walled courtyard will be added onto the back of the existing structure, completing the missing symmetry of the plan, designating a secondary entry, and introducing a contemporary material to the historic structure.

My proposal solves for several unique challenges in the conversion of this building:

  • The interior is quite dark, and there is little opportunity to bring in natural light. The brick walls are 18 inches thick and contain no windows. Rather than fight against the darkness, I’m choosing to embrace it, understanding darkness as a blank canvas for light.
  • Local preservationists are working toward protecting this building. By using light as the primary vehicle of conversion, the structure will be dramatically transformed while also remaining physically undisturbed. Rather than simply preserve history, the medium of light can be used to interpret, influence, and inspire.
  • The experience of the forested site should work in concert with the experience of the building. Opening the park between the hours of dusk and dawn establishes the experience of darkness as the link between the two, affording visitors the unique opportunity to explore the forest illuminated at night.

A local architect’s as-built drawings of the structure:

Looks like the landscaping will play a major part of your composition; and, subsequently how light reacts with the environment. Would you be doing anything with the 15-acre site or primarily the area depicted in the reference photo?

Also I appreciate the planning ahead with your proposed finishes already. I think any preparation and thoughts put into place will have a huge impact on how the final result. Best of luck!

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I really like your concept already - sounds like a well thought out approach.
The addition of a glass box on the side is a great idea and will contrast with the existing building nicely.
It’s also interesting to hear you talk about light so much.
Really looking forward to seeing how this one develops.
Good luck with it all!

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I have some ideas regarding landscape design that I’m eager to explore in the 3d scene. My plan is to stay focused on the immediate site surrounding the castle, but to express it as a single site within a more expansive context. Thanks for your interest!

Really appreciate your comments! The glass box feels like the right move. Hope to explore it in some unexpected ways.

I really dig this project! The glass box solution is one I have seen many times co-existing with old architecture, done right looks very good and is a great approach.