Author : Agata Murasko

University : Newcastle University

Status : BArch, 2013

Advisors : Matt Ozga-Lawn, James Craig

Title : Institute of Cloud Colouring

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight


The Cloud Colouring Institute utilises elements found on a post-industrial stretch of coast in Hartlepool to generate coloured clouds that act as a spectacular chronograph for residents, emitting bursts of colour into the sky to coincide with sunsets that vary from month to month. The project aims to recover the image of a derelict industrial site by transforming it into something uniquely positive. The cold grey skies of the North Sea are imbued with vibrancy and joy.

The brief asked to design a large-scale institute in a derelict post-industrial landscape scarred and contaminated by the processes that took place on it. The starting point was to test the human body and its relationship with its surroundings. The project started with a device that explored the visual distortion produced by the characteristics of different liquids. This apparatus leaked and stained its surroundings, like a miniature of the former industrial works. It generated the possibility that the industrial staining could be used for something positive, with the building acting as a huge printer that used the landscape as its canvas.

The institute uses pollen and seawater to generate colourful clouds. Long channels take high tide water into the architecture, where they are mixed with pollen collected from the site and other natural dyes, pressurised and sprayed into the air. As these clouds are generated, the resulting precipitation stains the landscape, creating temporary artworks across the site. The rain is partly channelled into underground rain archives, which document and store the colours generated as research into the dyes is carried out.

The landscape is a vast ecological park of coloured terrain and plantlife. The architecture, suspended above, is both a machine for the production of the clouds, and a place the residents of Hartlepool can enjoy. In this way it transforms its guarded and polluted industrial heritage into something hopeful and extraordinary.


S//A: What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Agata Murasko_ This project was a visionary response to the derelict post-industrial site. In this project I was exploring the design process. It initially started with the test device which was meant to be tested upon human senses. My tests failed but I decided to use a device as a design tool. The institute was developed through a series of drawings, models and collages. It was enjoyable yet difficult project since I did not allow myself to deviate from the device.

S//A: What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
AM_ I am fascinated with theatre and set design. I see theatrical performance as a relative of architecture, where users act according to the script written by architects or improvise.

S//A: Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
AM_ Architecture school is a place where I met great tutors and friends. It was amazing to work in the studio environment and share ideas, discuss projects and other unimportant things at the same time. This randomness in studios was a catalyst for many ideas. I think the best advice I received from a tutor in the beginning of my studies was: ‘Try to make a project wrong’ – it really helped me.

S//A : Describe your dream project
AM_ My dream project would be to design some kind of experimental theatre metropolis/skyscraper.