Saturday, 18 December 2010

Thesis: Symposium

The Thesis Symposium event hosted by the Emergent studio on 17th December was a great success. Guests included Associate Professor Adrian Carter and Dr Lars Botin from the university of Aalborg, Professor Geoffrey Broadbent, former head of the School of Architecture at Portsmouth University, current Portsmouth University staff and students as well as some of last years graduated Emergent Studio members. Thanks to all for attending and providing valuable feedback.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Vincula Study

The vincula between the found artefacts, translated into digital data, is manifest in the fabric of the construct. This is infinitely complex at varying levels of magnification.

Vincula study. In this conceptual image the orbs represent the found artefacts

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Duga, Chernobyl

"Duga", the steel giant near Chernobyl, Ukraine

This giant wall of radar antenna was built as a cold war-era early warning radar system.
It was abandoned after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl on April 26th 1986, and remains only as a technological relic of the cold war Soviet Union.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Pascal's Lost Wager: Conceptual Development

Conceptual Section: The Vault protects that which has been left in the wake of our existence, using it to form the Construct. Interpreting found artefacts transcribed into digital data, the Construct is in perpetual organic growth.

The private quarters of the Transcribe, housed in a salvaged shipping container.
The image bears a sinister parity to the 20th century corporate office worker.

Survivors begin to inhabit salvaged materials

Sketch Model Metamorphosis - Protect / Imprison

"The Vigilant Construct" among the ruins of Havant

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cathedral of Erotic Misery

Precedent - "Cathedral of Erotic Misery", by Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters' 'Cathedral of Erotic Misery', or 'Merzbau' was an installation/work of art/environment created between 1923-1937 in an apartment in Hannover. Construction of the Merzbau was halted in 1937 as Schwitters was forced to flee Germany after being declared a "degenerate artist" by the Nazi party. It was essentially a physical collage of artefacts found, owned or used by Kurt Schwitters
which consumed 6 or more rooms of his family house. The work itself was, in essence, a manifestation of the artists life, and one of the most complex and revered examples of collage in the 20th century.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Inhabiting the Earthquake

Precedent: Lebbeus Woods - Inhabiting the Earthquake

Lebbeus Woods' conceptual project 'inhabiting the earthquake' deals with an abandoned waterfront site in San Francisco. The structures are composed of shards of industrial cut-offs, and use the kinetic energy released by the earthquake in order to transform themselves.

"Earthquakes are the result of natural, tectonic changes in the solid crust of the earth and,
as such, are not inherently catastrophic. Their bad reputation comes from the destruction
to human settlements that accompanies them, when buildings collapse under the stress of
forces produced by earthquakes. This destruction is not the ‘fault’ of earthquakes, but
rather of the buildings, which, even in regions regularly visited by earthquakes, are not
designed to work harmoniously with the violent forces periodically released. So buildings
collapse, usually with considerable loss of life and injuries. The earthquakes are blamed,
as though the purpose of these sublimely unself-conscious phenomena was to damage
and destroy the human. “Earthquake Kills Thousands!” “Killer Quake Strikes!”
“Earthquake Levels Town!” are typical aftermath headlines. What they should say is
“Falling Buildings Kill Thousands!” “Killer Buildings Strike!” “Inadequately Designed
Town Leveled!”
Lebbeus Woods - EARTHQUAKE: A post-biblical view

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Pascal's Lost Wager: Conceptual Development

The Scholars searched for a location to establish their Erudition Repository.
They would need to first create a Vault, in which to transcribe found objects and artefacts into digital records,
preserving the admonitions and aberrations of the past.
The Vault would then need to be contained and protected.

The Safe and the Shield - The church site was identified as an ideal location for the Vault due to it's geographical
location and survival as an extant structure.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Daniel Dociu

Precedent - Virtual architecture and landscapes of Daniel Dociu

A conceptual artist and video game artistic director, Daniel Dociu creates incredible imagery of architecture starting with a particular feeling or ambient emotion, and usually in the realms of futurism and fantasy. An interview with the artist can be read here:

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Minor Project Scenario

St Faith's Church Project - "Pascal's Lost Wager"

For this project, Sam Sclater-Brooks and I have decided to join forces and hopefully reap the benefits of working as a team. The 'marriage', stemmed from mutual interests in both architectural and respresentational styles as well as crossovers in subject matter covered by our respective dissertations. Additionally we have worked together as part of a larger group on a number of occasions in the past and always found it to be productive.

The following work summarises our position so far, setting up a post-apocalyptic scenario and contextual setting which will lead on to a theoretical and architectural proposition.

Timeline charting the downfall of religion

Mapping the meteoric rise of the water table

The fragility of man in nature

The Allegory of the Second Deluge, and the establishment of the Erudition Respository

The fractured city scape of post-apocalyptic Havant

First hand accounts of the survivors

The allegory of the second deluge

Throughout history, wars have been fought and lost, advocated by religious doctrine. It had brought the world to the brink of nuclear destruction. When the doomsday clock ticked to within a minute of midnight, and the first missiles were launched, complete extinction was averted by a hair’s breadth with the advent of the Nuclear Decommission Initiative. Religious zeal was blamed, and the Pseudepigrapha Declaration demanded the immolation of all religious artefacts.

As the water began to rise on the South Coast, the severity of the situation was not given the required priority, as increasingly failing market economies and ever expanding transport networks demanded fuel and commerce that simply wasn't there. As a result the poorly constructed flood defence systems were compromised and the water continued to engulf the lowlands. The coastal cities were largely submerged by the rising water levels, causing the inhabitants to retreat inland to higher ground. Already overcrowded cities could not deal with the sudden overwhelming influx of populous, and consequently, massive slums began to spring up along the peripheries of all the UK's major cities. Some of the country's leading minds, who had prophesised the breakdown of society, began work on a solution. Nationwide rioting ensued, due to collapse of the country's agriculture and international trade which caused massive food shortages and widespread disease. Institutions broke down and chaos ensued in the urban centres. Eventually, those cities were abandoned as too dangerous to inhabit, as the storms and rapacious violence began to tear away the urban fabric.

Fearing the incessant ingress of the water table, any remaining communities on the South Coast moved as far inland as they could, many taking refuge in small self-sustaining villages.

Along with rising sea levels due to increasing loss of polar ice caps caused by global warming, the planet's ozone layer is sporadically depleted, causing erratic global weather conditions. With natural oil, coal and gas supplies reaching a state of blue ruin, and a global initiative seizing and disposing of most nuclear materials to avoid nuclear war, identification of alternative energy sources became paramount. The increased turbulence of the sea prompted society to consider offshore hydro-electricity farms as a possible primary power generator. Engineers began to identify key sites to locate their hydro-electric infrastructure, whilst prominent scientists and intellects followed the power source to begin their pursuit of the Absolute.

The desert landscapes of Northern and Southern Africa, North America, the Middle East and Australia have turned to glass, visually resembling the now-destroyed ice fields of the arctic. No living organisms are able to survive the volcanic surfaces in these regions. The previously temperate regions are now the only areas able to sustain life, although even these regions are barren and inhospitable. Only the most hardy and adaptable species have survived outside of human settlements. Plant life is now sustained only through the use of domesticated pollinating insects, held as a precious part of human survival. Ruins of abandoned human structures litter the surface, crumbling and overrun by parasitic creepers.

In a society where faith no longer plays a role in morality, celebration of life or grievance of death, the pursuit of the Absolute is all that's left for mankind to strive towards. To know the Absolute is to transcend reason and understand the immeasurable.

And so mankind, in order to increase his capacity for understanding and protect the most important resource of all, created an erudition repository.

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana, The Life of Reason

Friday, 29 October 2010

Orestad Church Competition

Thesis Inception Project - Orestad Church Competition

This was a short project (2 and a half weeks), in which the Emergent Studio, working as individuals or teams were asked to submit an anonymous competition entry for a church in the Orestad Syd region of southern Copenhagen.

The competition submission was limited to three A1 boards, however we were encouraged to challenge and reinterpret the original brief of a "community church", to arrive at a response based on our Nordic transgressions around Finland and Denmark.

Competition Entry - "The Chapel of the Tree of Life"


Project statement:

The site is located at the strong edge condition between the Faelled and the proposed urban development of Orestad Syd, in South Copenhagen. The existing presence of Vestamager Metro Station already provides easy transport links from Copenhagen city centre.

The proposal provides ecclesiastical facilities for a new community in an increasingly secular condition. The size of the proposed chapel reflects this, and in that sense is the antithesis of grand church architecture, offering a place of worship to those who wish to find spiritual well being.

The Chapel of the Tree of Life sits within the flat Danish Faelled landscape
. The chapel broadcasts it’s presence with the primary communicative tool at it’s disposal, the bell tower, but never imposes itself on either the new urban streetscape or the natural scrubland of the Faelled.

Instead it lays as a timeless relic, possibly discovered during the upheaval of massive urban development, or alternatively created by the gradual transformation of nature into culture.

Project Description

The entrance courtyard becomes atrium and preparatory space, the Yew Tree, importantly, centralised within and additionally on a sacred axis with the Altar, Baptistery and Campanile.
The descent into the courtyard frames the sky above, the Yew Tree providing the link between sky and earth.

"By a primal oneness the four - earth and sky, divinities and mortals, belong together in one."
Martin Heidegger

The Sanctuary is recessed into the floor of the chapel and becomes a reflecting pool to offer views of the sky canopy to those kneeling at the Altar. This also means that although the Pulpit is raised above the Sanctuary, it remains level with the congregation in the Nave, reinforcing the parity of clergy and laity.

Abstracted Baldachin - The idea of a canopy over the Altar is challenged, with the focus shifted to the sky as canopy. From the Nave, the Altar and Pulpit are bathed in light. The public realm above offers views down into the sacred space, further dissolving the concept of a hierarchy in which the clergy hold an elevated position over the congregation.

The Campanile serves as a visual point of reference from the Secular City, as well as a lightwell for the Baptistery beneath. Symbolically, the Campanile and Baptistery are the only two elements which breach the urban edge condition, reflecting their roles as communicative device between sacred and secular, and manifestation of entry into the faith respectively.

The long tapering approach to the Baptistery focuses the eye towards the light at the end, arriving at an intimate but high space with shafts of light flooding down and the Campanile bells and sky above. This is the sacred journey and ultimately, symbolic of transformation and rebirth, a metaphysical mirror image of the latent symbolism of the Yew Tree. The reflecting pool Sanctuary lies directly between the two, the mirror incarnate.

The competition was submitted anonymously, and judged in-camera. Afterwards there was a feedback critique of the submissions displayed on the third floor in the Portland Building atrium. I was pleased to be announced as the winning competition entrant, although all of the entries received deserved praise and were of exceptionally high quality.