Author : Jordan Whitewood-Neal

University : University for the Creative Arts: Canterbury School of Architecture

Status : BA(Hons) Architecture, 2016

Advisor : Kristina Kotov

Title : Mycro-Community: A Social Archive of Contingent Civic Space

Responding to the abandoned nature of Ramsgates former Pleasurama site, Mycro-community acts as an architectural polemic against conventional urban development. Through the exploration of mycelium, the roots of fungus, and its growth, characteristics, and materialistic possibilities in construction components, the building acts as a self sustainable organism floating above the ground.

Ramsgates increasing loss of community based infrastructural programs has led to a sense of lost identity and the degradation of active public space. My building intends to utilise mycelium as a catalysts for the preservation, production and ossification of community infrastructure on an internal, local, and urban level.

​Supported delicately by the ground plane and the cliff, the technical super structural approach allows the floors and volumes to float, leaving the bottom level as an open plaza, encouraging access, openness and providing a constant temporality on the site. Through a permutable modularity, the structure is capable of linear but variable expansion across the site, enabling the addition of socially informed civic spaces.

​The exterior approach and interior atmosphere of the building is informed by the intelligent skin, using an inner and outer layer of polarised glass, with mycelium growth contained within its vacuum, the skin provides both a micro environment within itself to encourage growth but also controls the filtering of light in the building, which at night then allows interior light to illuminate the building, emphasising it’s presence in the surrounding landscape.

​The archive is one in flux, functioning contingently at the scale of both mycelium spores and entire structural spaces. The mycelium’s compostable nature allows the spaces produced by it to have a spatial temporality, but materialistic life cycle in which fragments of a deconstructed space are recycled, researched and archived within the building. The project begins to question the definition and scale of an archive, with its growing taxonomy of socially produced spaces, the collection weaves within the existing fabric, ossifying and unifying, attempting to not just to introduce new spaces, but to collect and preserve the infrastructural substrate that it feeds off.

​Using mycelium enables the community to become physically involved with the design, production and occupation of their own public spaces and buildings, ossifying their own urban landscape and creating a contingent network of infrastructure which will support a regenerating town.

Interview

S//A : What is the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Jordan Whitewood-Neal_ This project is a direct response to the declining state of Ramsgate in terms of social and development issues. Its main goal is utilizing a unique biological material in a new way which provides the local community with a self organised production and distribution of civic spaces. The building itself sits at the centre of this, not only acting as the machine for the production of mycelium components, but also as a new social space which will catalyse community involvement and begin regeneration of its local context.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
JWN_ Sociology, philosophy, urban design and also bio-engineering are quite influential to me. In this project in particular, social theories as well as the exploration of different materials and their characteristics have both contributed to the development of the concept and design.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
JWN_ Never be afraid to expand your idea beyond the building itself and never undersell its potential to influence a much wider context.

Describe your dream project
JWN_ The regeneration of a secluded town or city in an uncommon and even extreme environment.