The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards

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This project was inspired by two observations made whilst watching Carl Dreyer’s Ordet:

1. The constant state of flux created within each scene by the continuous motion of the camera.

2. The use of Chiaroscuro to slice through, separate and highlight objects within space.

To explore the first of these observations I used a forgotten tram route to orbit the site as a strategy to record moments of my journey through the lens of my camera. The lens became a frame in which a series of images manifested and dissolved as I stopped at various points that inspired me to take a photograph. A series of diagrams were created, superimposed onto the site and then manipulated to express the forces observed within Ordet. The resultant diagram expresses my own movements through space that carve out an imaginary solid within the site. Within this solid, architectural space becomes manifest through the remaining geometries.

My response to the concept was driven by the idea of the frame as a device of manifestation. When applied within the social context of the city the idea became analogous with the shop window, where consumer desires are manifest by the manipulative framing of products. The negative side effects of such practices are well known; never in human history have we consumed so many useless objects. To perhaps curb the trends of our consumerist culture my programmatic response was to consider an UpCycling Centre where some of the unwanted and discarded products of the city could be UpCycled and also exchanged within an ‘Ossuary of
Unwanted Objects’.

To highlight the significance of the ossuary the idea of Chiaroscuro comes into play using sunlight that is reflected off the Southern Elevation via chrome plated sun scoops integrated into the precast concrete wall. The sunlight slices through the ossuary, and then hits the back of a wall consisting of varying degrees of translucency. This dynamic threshold depicts the blurred photographs of my initial explorations and becomes the first of a series of vertical and horizontal layers that appear to be separated by light as the sun moves across the sky.

Jonathon Phillips


Ossuary of Unwanted Objects


Jonathon has been an outstanding student in every respect. His design ability is of the highest order: fluid, inquisitive, responsive and always underpinned by an independent and intellectual stance. He has distinctly inspired his peers and tutors alike.

The concluding semester’s programme provided him with a vehicle to explore the relationship between Film and Architecture. His thematic journey assimilated the worlds of the past (his humble acknowledgement of the loss of the tram network in Liverpool), light (Caravaggio - the exploitation of chiaroscuro) and the suspension of belief (the work of Dreyer) yielded an impetus to explore the transition between the ethereal into the palpable through a process of ‘montage’.

The project provides a place for recollection, reflection and capturing memories for the inhabitants of the city – an apt symbolic act that evokes the loss of what was once the first library in Liverpool located across the street. This gesture attempts to allure in a renewed fashion, the preservation and the exchange of culture beyond the emptiness of the ever-increasing presence of the digital world.

Harnessed sunlight is orchestrated to strike in a number of ways against prismatic elements embedded in the various chambers, creating a multitude of light experiences that generate an almost spiritual aura within them. The interplay between light and darkness serve to accentuate the presence of thresholds through the various chambers.

These techniques and processes of design investigation mirror the world of cinematography and bring to the surface transitory spaces that are spatially memorable as a series of mise-en-scène compositions.

Ms Gladys Masey-Martinez
Mr Philip Lo
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