Cosmograms + Pompeions

15/06/2014 Comments Off on Cosmograms + Pompeions

The catalogue edition of the Architecture of the Processional City atelier is now available to view online. Co-edited by Olivia Paine, Raphaé Memon and James Taylor-Foster, this publication gives a concise overview of the research and design work undertaken by the atelier of 2013/2014.

Click to read in full screen.


Buildology [studying the construction of architecture]

07/03/2014 Comments Off on Buildology [studying the construction of architecture]

“Architecture is defined by the actions it witnesses as much as by the enclosure of its walls.” Bernard Tschumi, Architecture and Disjunction


Below are a selection of photographs from our visit to the construction site of One St Peter’s Square, a new high rise office building in the heart of Manchester, St Peter’s Square. The 60m tall building is next to the proposed site for our projects. The photographs represent key moments and actions in the construction of the building, with layers of envelope and finishes revealed.








06/03/2014 Comments Off on Aura

Abstract form process (s)

Processional activity is a method for making the ethereal feel real, and the distant appear closer through congregational activity embedded with both individualistic and corporeal sensory experiences. It is the experience and evaluation of time for all participants which is opened for own interpretation with some point of personal identity and recognition with the event. Individually, through historical consciousness, we project procession onto the urban fabric as ‘prejudices and fore-meanings in the mind of the interpreter’ (Gadamer, 2004). However, identification is primarily a social concept, concerned with defining the processes that organize the human cognitive condition. Identity is simultaneously collective and individual, because we can never solely identify ourselves as either part of a group or as an individual, both always exist. The act of processing is the practice of recognising oneself as being part of a community on a meso social scale. It invites us to re-orientate ourselves with in the city, beyond the immediate confines of the building. Rather than serving to break down social barriers and join the group into an undifferentiated unity, the procession fluctuate between the foreground, middleground and background of different realities in ordering to establish a ‘meaningful whole’, just like an aura or a field of congregation.

Such observations can also be applied to understanding of the baroque as an intense sensory assault and how it corresponds to the analysis of both urban and architectural settings. Rather than using the term ‘baroque to simply’ describe the cultural movement, Patrick Lynch’s notions of the baroque city infers that it is more valuable as ‘a way of thinking about the world and of re-representing this worldview in spatial settings’. He goes as far as to suggest that considering ‘art has largely become spectacle today, and public life a series of spectacles’, ‘the baroque period marks the birth of modernity’. The duality of “man and the world” has often be understood as the dialogue of “man and the environment”, which the environment appears as the articulation and embodiment of our life that endures our experience in the world. Vividness of the memory of a building in our mind suggests that the environment is reciprocity of the actual and the possible.

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Inspired by Peter G. Rowe’s notions of Civic Realism, the investigation opens up the idea of power sharing interests between authorities and various elements of civic society by introducing interpretation of community. Rowe pulls the various themes of Civic Realism together and summarises the thesis that the civic realm lies between the public and private aspects of our lives although it tends to be produced by both. Derived from mainly informal networks of associations of society, favorable social and political conditions are required for good civic space to come about. Also the term civic represents a point of view about public
conduct. Something civic is educational and worthy of being seen and heard in public, and furthermore something to be passed on to further generations with pride. It is not a style or specific aesthetic ideology. It is at first a transcending state of being in the world, and secondly an orientation or principles to be taken and implemented when making urban architecture into something that is civic, and is distinct from simply being public or personal experience. Co-extensive space contain a pluralism of attitudes with a sense of common accord: they are adaptive, and support everyday life, and allow for group or individual expression.

My first program intention is using gold as the metaphoric representation of ‘aura’, which ties to the mentioned agenda in twofold.
First, Gold means Halo means Aura. The chemical element gold with the symbol Au, from the Latin word aurum, meaning ‘shinning dawn’. The continuous use of gold leaf for haloes in majority of panel painting was considered a shiny, lively and reflective medium and was a metaphor since the late Middle Ages. Noticing that gold is the material that enhances the radiation of holiness, it has the same property as aura. It is always a ‘foreground material’ that oscillates between the planes of reality, the earthly and heavenly spheres, and forms the best effect of an iconological auratic presentation. Gold in its sacred shrine and symbol of authority could be understood as the mediator between observer and the significance of the parading institution.

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“the gold ground is a metaphor of the supernatural light and symbolizes other-worldliness.[…], it ‘embodies both material and immaterial values.’ 

-Warhold Gold Marilyn (1962)

Second, Gold is the kind of transcending value from civic to individuals. Paintings, stone artworks, textiles and metal were usually glided to look like real gold for decoration purposes. Gold has to fulfill the highest demands and in the past, in every era and every culture, it was reserved for the ruling houses and the senior clergy. The basic value of human passion on gold, always similar, and present in all cultures and eras since very beginning of civilization. From crafting objects of worship and beautification to coining elegant coins as means of exchange and stores of wealth, the varying religious and economic values attached to gold are a result of changing of point of view. Nevertheless the value of gold lies on all aspects of meaning. On one hand, for some of the authorities, gold collection in treasury is a showcase (an icon) of the significance of power ; on the other hand it is crafted as jewelry for individual’s creative appreciation. This is coherent with processional display of power thought the icon that transformed to an individual synaesthetic experience.

Theorisation and Consolidation Theorisation and Consolidation2

the Civic Flytower

03/03/2014 Comments Off on the Civic Flytower

This concept montage shows the main actor in my scheme, the Herald, and transubstantiation. The figures represent jesters and ballerinas, two opposing actors involved in stage and social drama. Within the figure outlines are glimpses of the macabre Baroque sculptures of Kris Kuksi. Elements of stage drama present here have been ‘transubstantiated’ to form an inversion of reality. The performative device has been bared.

My scheme proposes a programme which provides back-of-house activity for the city, inverting the traditional typology of the flytower as being a hidden mechanism responsible for the delivery of stage drama, and instead breaking the fourth wall to reveal the elements to make up a social performance. The way the city reacts to the unaccustomed and extraordinary nature of social drama is determinant on the supply of bleachers, and temporary additions to street furniture.

How can the mise en scène from stage drama help to furnish/ embellish the city during the manifestation of social drama?

In short, the Civic Flytower scheme intends on baring the device of stage drama and transubstantiating its mise en scène for social drama in the street.

This context plan highlights key elements making up the placement strategy for the scheme: actors are represented by the blue lines; views into the practice, production and performance of stagecraft are represented by the green lines; visitor movement is shown by the orange lines; important decisions regarding offsetting geometries from the wider urban block are represented by the red and dashed lines.

This map highlights key venues used by festivals, in particular the Manchester International Festival and the Manchester Jazz Festival. The processional route marked represents the Manchester Day Parade. My scheme will cater its rituals around these three events, providing ‘back-of-house’ services. The scenic carpentry workshop facilities in the building would help create some of the floats needed for the Day Parade, and could hold workshops with schools to design their own floats, as part of an education programme. For the two festivals, my building could offer itself as a venue, as well as providing access to the two workshops to construct temporary street furniture.

Extreme Compression

10/01/2014 Comments Off on Extreme Compression

Black Nazarene Procession, Manila, January 9th 2014.


Image courtesy of

Contemporary Gargoyles

10/01/2014 Comments Off on Contemporary Gargoyles

Lincoln Cathedral

Two examples of contemporary gargoyles carved by Lincoln Cathedral’s Master Mason. The first, a snake with a human hand and skull features a gold coin between its teeth and ‘£’ signs in its eyes, was fixed during the recent financial crisis as an homage to greedy bankers.

2014-01-10 15.43.32

2014-01-10 15.44.23

Lincoln Cathedral: the Contemporary Craft of Stonemasonry

08/01/2014 Comments Off on Lincoln Cathedral: the Contemporary Craft of Stonemasonry

An insight into contemporary masonry

Thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln

Thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln

Lincoln Cathedral Works Department kindly gave me access to their masonry workshops and to parts of the cathedral (namely the South Turret on the West Front) where they are currently conserving, repairing and replacing the ancient stone fabric.

Lincoln Cathedral quarries a special variety of white limestone, Ancaster White, from its small quarry nearby using the same seam of rock that was used in Norman times to construct the original building. In the sample of Ancaster White photographed at the bottom of this post you can see flecks of jet black – fossilised life embedded within the stone.


Thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln

For John Ruskin,

I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.

It’s very difficult to argue with!


Thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln

2014-01-07 17.52.14

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