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Event and Abandonment

Part 1 Project 2009
Thomas Smith
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham UK
Event and abandonment is a project which explores the possibilities of a structure in flux between two conflicting states.
In one state the event is best defined as a period of intense human activity which takes the form of a small alternative film festival; an annual gathering in which the traditional notions of viewing and interacting with visual and audio material is explored. The curators envisage a meandering platform; an arena in which the composition and structural makeup of a series of outdoor projection spaces are revealed. Thus an outdoor arena in which light and sound spill and reverberate between one another is created. This meandering platform dictates no particular narrative, no right or wrong direction, creating within the audience a sense of discovery, surprise, delight and fear.
The other state, entitled abandonment is a period of mourning the once habitable space, now uninhabitable. Function gives way to ornamentation. The structure now becomes a forgotten monument. Lying dormant and crippled by a rusting decay, it becomes to resemble a stranded beast painfully awaiting the return of life, the return of the event...

Thomas Smith

In their degree studio the students were asked to seek out and generate a question, a challenging hypothesis to test with their research, design process and product. The student’s interest in event and abandonment stemmed initially from memories of the seasonal contrast between carnival and decay found in seaside holiday towns. He postulated that the fragments of structure abandoned in the low season might take on their own alternate and unplanned life.

In searching out a site to test his ideas, the student investigated a local Victorian cemetery and saw in it a connection to the event (burial) and abandonment- the long periods in which the space catered informally for a variety of more or less decadent activities. The design of the event, a new type of film festival, completed the layering with carnival-like possibilities of spillage between competing and complimentary micro-events, an environment structured to create random connections and experiences.

The student developed his project through an immersion in the material and cultural context of the site and a simultaneous grappling with the liminal condition of his scheme; at once full of life and in a constant state of decay. The resulting project is both fantastical and grounded- the mesmerising structure carefully designed to support an organised happening, to encourage the unexpected and to speak to us about place.


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