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Part 2 Project 2008
James White
Edinburgh College of Art Edinburgh UK
EILIDH - Edinburgh International Literary Institute and DfD Hub
(on relationships and contrasts between what is fixed and what is flexible)

« La solución para relacionarse con el tiempo no es hacer cosas indestructibles. » (The solution to getting in touch with time is not to make things that are indestructible) // « La destrucción es una aceleración del tiempo, y el construir, en realidad, también lo es. »
(Destruction is a speeding up of time, and, in effect, so is building) // « La permanencia es contraria a la existencia. Las cosas se modifican continuamente. » (Permanence is contrary to existence. Things are forever changing) // Enric Miralles, 1999

Edinburgh’s Old Town hosts an ideological struggle between the forces of Conservation and Development. This urban tug-of-war between new and old turns into a ‘deaf-match’ about cultural relevance and historic importance. The EILIDH project sets out to provide a critical appraisal of the relevance of permanence in contemporary cultural frameworks.

A dialogue is initiated between the forces of old and new: on the one hand, by uncovering relationships within the existing, which open up ‘in-between’ spaces for the new to filter into; on the other, by deducing from the existing relationships and geometries patterns for the new to adhere to, in an impermanent, DfD (Design for Disassembly) manner appropriate to the nature of the rapidly changing needs and wants of contemporary culture.

Constant cultural movement calls for flexibility in the processes of architecture, in form (metron, a measure), as well as meaning (logos, discourse). Architecture becomes a language through which to appraise and challenge contemporary frameworks, and allows for cultural heterogeneity and multivalent symbolism to be borne by the stone, the steel and the skin.

The brief developed for the project is to design a literature institute to house literary events and book signings, to promote interest in and knowledge of literature through public access. The Institute, sitting at the foot of historic New Calton Burial Ground, also houses Edinburgh International Book Festival teams on fluctuating seasonal occupancies, as well as three removable modular writers’ pods and one writer-in-residence.

James White

This final year unit investigates ‘Contemporary Architectural Intervention’ and encompasses a variety of projects and programmes which challenge students’ pre-conceptions of NEW into OLD.

Although responsive to the complexities of working within the strictures of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, James is not afraid to confound expectations. He is thoughtful in his approach and articulate in the subtle manipulation of tectonic form to enrich the city. He is able to channel a burgeoning knowledge of architectural technology to enrich the creative process and has expanded his understanding of context absorbing historical, cultural, physical and poetic principles.

James has been an exemplary student and made a valuable contribution to the supportive research culture of the unit. He is receptive to new ideas and eager to collaborate with other creative individuals. Certainly each task is approached with an enthusiasm and brio which informs a rapidly evolving methodology.

James adopts an analytical approach to design, simultaneously working through a succession of scale models, free-hand sketches, musical compositions and computer drawings (as appropriate) to develop each project. Being bi-lingual, an appreciation of language (and its evocative power) pervades his overall approach and is allied to an intuitive approach to composition.

Mark Cousins
ECA Unit Tutor

Mr Mark Cousins
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