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The Idler's Rest - Skye Edge, Sheffield

Part 2 Project 2008
Pete Jennings
University of Sheffield Sheffield UK
Nephelococcygia [ne-fê-lê-kak-’si-jee-yê ] lit. Cloudcuckooland
[1] A dream land cut off from reality.

The Idler’s Rest – a club for idlers - is at once a serious and playful attempt to address a complex web of social, economical and ecological conditions that may be changing faster than ever. Beginning investigations into the studio theme of 'interdependence' with pigeon racing and the nature of clubs in the steel cities of Nowa Huta, Poland and Sheffield, England, the Idler’s Rest adopts a Cloudcuckooland [inspired by Aristophanes’ Birds], upside-down, approach to the way that clubs and their design might be thought, drawn and detailed. The new club at the poetically named Skye Edge, Sheffield responds both to it’s under-used [idle] park setting and the potentially dramatic effect on the relationship of work and play of an ever-prophesied oil crisis.


[2] The act of ‘seeing’ familiar objects in the clouds.

The project explores provisional construction as the architecture of imagination and perception and how these form the unspoken and unspeakable foundations of club culture and membership. The club building becomes the stage for meetings between club ‘members’ and outsiders; Idlers, pigeon fanciers and park-goers, its fabric permitting, mediating or impeding these interactions. In the face of economic turmoil, it is these elements which are highly crafted - set against the 'rationed' austerity of the club building.

Cloudcuckooland manifests itself at various moments in the club building as a sense of surprise, deception or unease. These shiftings of the perceived reality are essential to the building's mediatory role. Perhaps most significant of these illusive devices, is the manipulation of natural and artificial light. Natural light as a barometer of time and orientation, is controlled or magnified; spaces within the club suggesting an orientation, a proximity to the outside or the surface, which may be quite divorced from reality.

Pete Jennings


Pete Jennings’ project, ‘The Idler’s Rest’ sets out to question the status of work and play in the 21st century by proposing a club for idlers – whether pigeon fanciers, tea drinkers, or visitors to the park –at Skye Edge, Sheffield. Pete developed his brief as a playful and provocative re-examination of the role of architecture in the context of global environmental change. His research into the recent ‘historic’ as well as looming Oil Crisis prompted a reappraisal of the working week, of state and social responsibility, of leisure time. The proposed club in Sheffield – ‘The Idler’s Rest’– suggests not only a redeployment of time but a re-evaluation of idling. Conducting his work within the bounds of a self-imposed ‘three-day week’, Pete’s project questions our assumptions about the way we work, the way we spend money on buildings, the way we use resources from our environment. The project demonstrates an acute and poetic sensibility that responds to the site at Skye Edge and an awareness of the social, economic, and environmental conditions of a neglected park in Sheffield. However it avoids deterministic approaches to what a club or architect-designed building should be by overturning assumptions and finding an alternative, ‘upside-down’ point of view. Beginning the project with the modification of a salvaged pigeon racing clock, the theme of an inversion and questioning of work and play – a cloudcuckooland (inspired by Aristophanes The Birds), extends through the approach to the site (that incorporates club conversations, harnessing of the prevailing wind, existing pigeon lofts) to an attitude to the way that architectural interventions might be specified, detailed and drawn. By looking at the world ‘upside down’, he also draws attention to those parts of the architectural design that are exquisitely crafted—‘poise-angle’ lighting, or salvaged and unexpected – ‘the stationary escalator’. The project proposes a different and imaginative approach to sustainability issues: one that combines ethical considerations with poetic inventiveness.

Tutor(s)
Dr Renata Tyszczuk
Mr Satwinder Samra
2008
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