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Feral Transience: the Gospels House

Part 1 Project 2009
Otis Murdoch
Northumbria University, UK
Atop the rocky Heugh, the museum is a connection to the history of the horizon and enlightenment to the ancestry of Lindisfarne.
The building touches the land lightly, connecting land to sea, whilst anchoring the gospels in the bay where legend has it they were once lost.
A light weight movement and anchoring point is indicative of the prehistoric crinoids’ nature to sway in water, their fossilised bodies reclaimed for rosary beads by the holy men.
The materials float off the cliff, fluttering in the wind like a transient being in the wild nature of its place, an unparalleled strength; genius loci.
Exposure to and protection from the wind, as one travels through the whistle between shelters, becoming part of the glint on the horizon; a lighthouse to the curious appetite; the Jewel of Northumberland awaits……….

Fear and uncertainty diminish, adrenalin coursing through veins, delight and euphoria, no regrets, elation………..the answer is given and a journey back begins.
Light shines on water like an inverted shadow, exploring the mysteries of the north, night time sea.
Anti-space is peaceful; the calm in a storm.
The gospels sit within a field of projecting light, waiting for another sight…………

Otis Murdoch

This scheme is an energetic and transient proposal to create a museum on the Holy island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. The project is sited on a prominent outcrop of rock adjacent to the island’s historic priory, and houses the priceless Lindisfarne Gospels.

The visitor passes through the priory ruins, before climbing the path to the top of the cliff and the entrance to the simple building, a seemingly effortless continuation of the cliff top. This houses key services for the functioning of the gospels museum, and provides shelter before the visitor is pushed onto a series of lightweight walkways which provide a tension with the solidity of the rock.

There are a series of enclosures, clinging to the rock, fragile and exposed, highlighting the connection to the past through the turbulent weather conditions. The walkway then takes us down to the gospels house, a staith like structure with a glowing brass core, reflecting the light toward Bamburgh and the mainland like an ancient communication pyre.

The scheme is deeply imbued in the traditions of the gospels, referencing the fossilised coral like creatures which the monks used to thread as rosary beads, and the legend of the gospels remaining undamaged after being thrown from a ship in a storm as the monks attempted to move the book away from the advancing Vikings.

The scheme also provides a place of refuge for modern day monks and those seeking the Gospels as part of their pilgrimage. There is a reliance on these visitors to contribute to the maintenance of the building, replacing timbers, repairing the sail like flags that whip in the wind and polishing the brass reflectors, which give the scheme its capacity to animate the stretch of rock with its symbolic glow……..

The scheme was communicated through an array of highly developed skills in model making, drawing, painting, three dimensional modelling and computer skills which combined to communicate the experience, materiality and beauty of the scheme.

Mr Benjamin Elliott
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