Ruins had always been portrayed as wild nature overgrowing on declining architecture. The ambiguous state of nature showing that it is no linger a work of art (since the original intension of the architect is lost); nor is it a outgrown nature (since the man-made still remains as the basis of the composition).
With ruins being a hybrid of organic and man-made, my project questions the role and position of nature and architecture in this hybrid.
In Gandy’s Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England, Soane’s master piece in ruin was encircled by the wild grown nature. As Brenda Colvin described:
“with a little imagination one might visualise a London left to nature’s healing hand … a lost and broken city hidden under a great forest of sycamore.”
Nature and architectural ruins often comes hand in hand, the dramatic effect of the Ivy brought the corps of architecture across the fine line from the grotesque into the subject of the picturesque.
Ruins are best viewed in isolation. The frame of foliage in the Bird’s Eye View of the Bank of England is replaced by the boundary of the Theme Park in my Re-con, which removes the architectural ruins form their context. Within this Theme Park, the architectural ruins of various styles and periods are collapsed and arranged to satisfy the ruin lust of its visitors.
The isolated Theme Park is sub-divided by the nature and landscape around, composing picturesque views. Each view is particular and contrived,
extracting the innate beauty of architecture that is shown through decay (ancient ruins);
transforming the remnant of destruction and tragedy to frame emotional responses (human and natural disaster);
creating garden ruins for aimless pleasure that are detached from any other emotion (follies).
The series of views are connected by a self repeating scripted route, leading visitors around a world overflowing with ruins. Like the follies, this route is aimless, the fixation on the subject actually formed a barrier restricting the viewers from reaching the architecture. The viewers are being attracted as well as pushed away by the subject of obsession, trapped in orbit in the never-resting Theme Park, unable and unwilling to stop.
As Soane is trapped in orbit around antiquities, Gandy was trapped in a parallel orbit around fantastical visions of the nature-tamed sepulchral architecture.
Through the contrived fame of nature, the various visions of the architects is reflected onto the architectural ruins.
Standing amongst the follies, with the ancient ruins of Acropolis and Roman Forum on it background, Soane’s Bank of England is framed as one of the antiquities.
As we walk past and look back, the Bank of England is framed as Gandy’s vision, where he used the fragility of architecture to construct a romantic view, evoking emotion and leading us into the architects’ imagination.
Responding to Soane’s search for immortal architecture, Gandy exhibited Architecture, its Natural Model in 1838, suggested Soane to siege architecture with nature. However, this is only another orbit in the Theme Park. With the architecture sieged, we still linger around the siege of nature, unable to reach the architecture. What Gandy did, was to build a tension between architecture and the untamable nature.
The enveloping nature always manage to surround architecture as it turns to ruin, yet our obsession of manipulating nature never fade, forming an unsettling relationship between nature and architecture.
Since the morbid ruins can only materialize as a composite of nature and man-made, to find Soane’s immortal architecture, we should treat the ruins as architecture is sieging rather than sieged by nature.
In this ruin, our track of orbit and our siege would be what we seek: architecture.
Inverting the position of architecture and nature, the project now sets site in a ruin landscape – the Red Forest of Chernobyl, sieged by a botanic laboratory.
The name of this forest came from the ginger-brown colour of the deformed pine trees after the absorption of high levels of radiation. It is a forest that human is afraid to set foot on.
In this ruin landscape, the ruin is no-longer remnant of the disappearing but a temporary form of the recovering. To maintain the state of ruin, the siege is acting as a suppressing rather than preserving mechanism, constantly defying nature with the sterility of architecture.
To suppress nature in maintaining its ruin state, the laboratory experiments on capturing the ruin forest in different scales.
Inside the laboratory, pockets of the forest is captured inside various green houses. Feeding radiation to the plants, the laboratory tests for ways to capture the ruin, mutated state of nature, expressing the power of human over nature.
The method of captivation is also applied to a much bigger scale, pipes running along the forest, sending out radiation to provide an environment that capture a new form of folly: the mutated trees.
The picturesque landscape is captured as a grotesque view, reminding us the event of disaster as well as nature’s insignificance and fragility over the sterility of architecture.
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