Author : Damien Reiss Clayton

University : University of Westminster

Status : MArch I, 2015

Advisor : Darren R. Deane

Title : Stereotomy

Where do the edges of rooms begin and end? At what point are finite chunks of architectural programme weakened by the infinite imperatives and possibilities of context? The creative interplay between a thing/room and its context is a paradoxical totality – resistant to scientific appropriation (a poetic delay of reason or function), but one that implicitly orientates perception, understanding and anticipations of the built environment, a latency we cannot do without.

Processional and ritual activity provide “anti-structures” (Tuner,1995) that allow for a temporary, [ inclusive ] reordering of the city. This alliance results in lateral programmatic shifts within the festive spatial field, turning once neutral spaces into places of observation. It is through this activity and involvement of ritualistic behaviours that elevates the [ symbolic and pragmatic ], making the inanimate animate.

The city is an ultimate expression of society. It is the synthetic product of our collectivity, our shared culture, economy, dreams, our conflicts and fears. It is a live recording, simultaneously mapping the territory of our democracy, continuously in state of being re-written. It is a recording that can organise us, arrange us, socialise us and separate us. It is a repository of history : a material artefact , a man-made object built over time and retaining the trace of time as memories. It is the unconcealment of memory, symbolism and stone that provoked the programme.

The proposed programme aims to unpack the lithic unconsciousness of the city to reveal the inanimate nature of stone [symbolism]. The programme is what Heidegger would describe as being an entity in a consecrated space oscillating between the world and earth: a mediation device.

The building is primarily a modern Lapidarium (stone museum) vested with an auction room and votive domus. The votive domus (a room within a room) acts as a site of pilgrimage for the London to Canterbury pilgrims. This architectural setting discloses all orders of space. It is the buildings intentions to actively promotes the festive topography acting as an [ urban corner stone].

The Semperian inspired theatricality of the building discloses the fragment for the viewer, dishonest concealment, evoking emotion and swallowing. The theatricality allows the building to frame individual moments of lithic awareness (festive moments) whilst acting as a backdrop for others. The building is a site of pilgrimage yearly, a site of human ritual cleansing monthly, and a site of individual festivity daily.

The lapidarium is designed to allow for a temporary alignment of sunlight and object. It is this alignment that elevates the viewer and fragment to a symbolically higher and more conscious state, similar to that of processional activity. The fragments and rooms alike are poetically arranged to evoke emotion and awareness. The design depends on landscape, [ hidden geometry and perceptual space ] to provide limits and dimensions to the architecture. It lends significance to the scenery by restricting it and giving it proportion. Views are blocked by walls which are only pierced a certain strategic points and there permit an unhindered view.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Damien Reiss Clayton_ The embodied experience of the visitor is the device that mediates the virtual acknowledgement of the statues’ spatial relationships. The gaze of the visitor and the gaze of the statues become part of a single spatial configuration of shifting reciprocity. The striking difference between the veil and the inner topography stimulates an awareness between the earth and the world. It allows one to be consciously aware of the programme they are in: a consecrated world unpacking the inanimate nature of stone.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
DRC_ Classical art painting.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
Someone once told me that ‘people endeavor to complicate architecture, today, making every move imaginable, providing a jungle of architectural justification. It is the simplicity of architecture that provides the ultimate.” The purest architecture can be achieved in the fewest moves possible.

S//A : Describe your dream project
DRC_ Church or museum of significance.