[Re]Discovered Birdcage

Short exploratory animation that provided a way into the site and the project.

Relational Section expand
Relational section of House, Mechanical Ticket Office and Moine Dhubh
Project description

This project explores the power of language – strong style, single words – to shape our sense of place. It is a word hoard of the astonishing lexis for landscape that exists in relation to the rivers, hedgerows, lochs, bogs, fields and edge lands uneasily known as the Isle of Lewis. The remarkable referential exactitude of a glossary uncovered by locals in a Counter Desecration Phrasebook, and the poetry of its terms, are adopted and animated through an architecture that is born out of a language deeply embedded within the landscape.

Domestic typologies and vernacular architecture are replaced by a lexicon of architectural devices that allow the house for animators to occupy and take advantage of the wet bog landscape, enabling it to shift, slip and excavate the bog as it retreats. A mechanical landscape is created of winches, pulleys and counterweights mimicking the architectural language of the Moor, found within the Counter Desecration Phrasebook. An architectural language of impermanence, loose-fit structures and permeable enclosures compliment and contribute to the nature of the fluid landscape, whilst allowing birds to nest within the house. The project then, unfolds as a study of a landmass many see as having nothing in it – the peatlands of The Brindled Moor on Lewis. A site, like so many of the empty places in the Highlands and Islands, under threat of becoming unseen, unheard, mute – which is to say, inanimate – in the planning of its future.

Exploded Isometric expand
Exploded isometric of barrel like house and its structural composition
Ground Level Plan

Ground level for slow contemplation and the reframing of thoughts containing an entrance lobby which includes a record player that slowly shifts topography and a cloud watching room that allows the archaeologist twins to predict the weather for the next mornings dig.

Ground Level Plan expand
First Level Plan

First level for slow rates of movement and animation containing floating platforms with cabinet of objects and vertical sacks of bird food holding a mixture of maize, flaxseed and rye.

First Level Plan expand
First floor plan of house and Eigs
Second Level Plan

Second level for rates of animation faster than the two preceding floors, containing an auditorium for the projecting of films to a small audience and an area for the working and reworking of excavated materials.

Second Level Plan expand
Second floor plan of house
Loft Level Plan

Loft level (a space favoured by birds) for the catching and animating at a rate the speed of light and sound containing an animating table that redirects light and can fold down to the size of a butter barrel and a platform that penetrates the structure and allows objects to be viewed against the treeless horizon of the peat bog.

Loft Level Plan expand
Loft plan of house with animating table
Sectional Perspective expand
Section perspective of house with shutter that can be moved to control light for animations
Auditorium expand
Perspective of auditorium with fabric screen that folds and creases projections
Loft Perspective expand
Nested loft perspective with handrails and structural beams that double as perches
Protective Coat expand
Elevation Perspective of protective coat and structure
Facade Study expand
Facade study that uses car engines and weaving sheds

Each element of the project develops its tone and music to the individual phrase that first inspired it: ‘Eig’ speaks of the quartz crystals on the beds of moorland stream-pools that catch and reflect moonlight and therefore draw salmon to them in the late summer and autumn, ‘Glassel’ speaks of a pebble which is shiny and wet which children insist on filling their suitcases with after a holiday and ‘Rionnach Maoim’, from which the project takes its name, speaks of the shadows cast on the moorland by clouds moving across the sky on a bright and windy day. Each word becomes a means of animating the landscape through its poetic and architectural meaning.

Eig: Peaty Construction

Eig - the quartz crystals anchored in the beds of moorland stream-pools that catch and reflect moonlight and therefore draw salmon to them in the late summer and autumn

The eigs hold the bed and bath for the twins and become the anchors that act as a counter weight as the house is pulled through the landscape. The metallic architecture of the eigs comprises of elements that catch and reflect light; also acting as perches for birds.

Eig: Peaty Construction expand
Survey drawing: Exploded isometric of Eig construction sequence and material make up

Glassel - a pebble which is shiny and wet which children insist on filling their suitcases with after a holiday

The glassel acts as a backpack piece that is filled with and carries objects found in the landscape to be later reanimated in films by the twins. The glassel has open pockets and collected objects become shiny and wet after rain has hit the moor.

Glassel expand
Survey drawing: Elevation isometric of glassel with hoists to lift objects on to platform
Moine Dhubh

Moine Dhubh - the heavier darker peat that lies deeper and older into the moor

The Moine Dhubh, or darkroom, is one of the smaller raft like architectures that inhabit the excavated landscape. The Moine Dhubh is organised with a dry wall to one side that contains a dry mount press, paper cutter and work space, and a wet wall on the other that holds the print trays, sink and wash area. The form takes its inspiration from a corroding tractor engine that lies deep and old into the moor.

Moine Dhubh expand
Survey drawing: Plan isometric of moine dhubh with coat, struture and moveable work surface
House in Landscape expand
Model drawing of house in landscape
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Architecture - MArch

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