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The Matter of Energy

Part 2 Project 2010
Dan Jones
University of the West of England | UK
“The Matter of Energy” by Dan Jones

This project explores the resolution of polar opposites through a need for the production of renewable energy from handling waste. It is a radical intervention in a sensitive and, some might say precious, location.

Tensions have arisen between the anaerobic digestion’s industrial processes and the Llanthony Priory, a heritage site and scheduled ancient monument. Priories were once places of food production and so, throughout this project, parallels of ambiguous contradiction can be drawn.

The sites separate elements consist of the public education facility, cafe and the anaerobic digestion plants. Their layout and location have been determined by the geometry present on the site and the processes inherent in anaerobic digestion.

Throughout the design the project seeks to determine ways of mitigating polar opposites, by finding a way in which entirely different conditions can be considered simultaneously. These conditions reveal themselves both metaphorically and physically through processes and through layering of agendas.

For example, the act of taking waste food and turning it into energy is a strong basis for exploration. This process creates something from nothing - polar opposites. The waste from the composting toilets is put back onto the vegetable gardens on the roof, which in turn supplies the café’s kitchen with seasonal vegetables. This process is visible from the café and presents a closed loop system against a backdrop of the digester tanks, so that these ‘lost’ processes of current times are reiterated.

Materials used are symptomatic of the ambiguous and ambivalent environmental ideas that are fundamental to the design. Corten steel on the elevation of the education facility and large screens facing the Priory, reflects, through its surface decay, the diminished ebb and flow of its industrial trade and commerce that once was. At the same time the decay and oxidisation of its surface, achieves the polar opposite, it protects itself, metaphorically reflecting the notion of future aspirations of the canal’s re-use and prosperity from its declined state.

Dan Jones

“The Matter of Energy” by Dan Jones

Dan’s project presents an exceptional and radical exploration of the need for renewable energy through handling waste. Through combining the creation of an anaerobic digester and an educational facility in a sensitive Heritage site, he explores the idea of mitigating polar opposites.

Through extensive research into its historical background, Dan has gained a deep understanding of the site, both on an architectural and emotional level, something rarely seen in student projects. By empathising with the self-containment and self-sufficiency that were part of Priory life, he proposes a brief were the food waste is turned into energy.

Dan has developed a brief which introduces an industrial process into a sensitive site. He produces energy from food waste and provides an educational building alongside anaerobic digesters – dealing with buildings of wide-ranging scales. He also shows awareness of the environmental issues, for example through the use of rammed earth structural walls to provide thermal mass. At the same time a strong sense of aesthetic is maintained, through careful planning of the views from different buildings, the site layout and the design of details.

Dan brings a level of thoughtfulness and understanding to this work that is outstanding at this stage of his architectural education. His success is driven by his passion for the subject and I have no hesitation in nominating Dan for this award.

Elena Marco and John Comparelli
Senior Lecturers
Department of Planning and Architecture


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