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The Gold Library of Cononish

Part 2 Project 2010
Will Guthrie
Edinburgh College of Art Edinburgh UK

It is the early twenty-first century, and the world continues to eschew analogue technology readily in favour of new, seemingly more efficient digital systems. Knowledge, the foundation of human society, is stored in computers, and the age of the tangible, paper library is over - an anachronism. We are now wholly reliant on digital technology as a means of accessing and retrieving information. There is no alternative backup.

In reaction to this condition, a grand project is proposed to safeguard the rich cultural and historical legacy of Scotland. In the West Highlands, at the site of an existing gold mine, a clandestine guild of craftsmen and miners is established, reviving the spirit of the 19th century handcraft practitioners CR Ashbee and William Morris.

Miners tunnel industriously into the mineral-rich mountain of Beinn Chuirn, extracting gold ore. The mountain’s hillside – scarred by heavy mining operations – accommodates a cavernous, temple-like industrial hall in an abandoned excavation. Within, a foundry extracts the gold in a furnace, preparing cylindrical scrolls for the inscription of information by a company of skilled engravers. Contained deep within the mountain, a hermetic repository stores the scrolls, shielding the information from the corrosive forces of the outside world.

Many centuries later - the world divested of its complex technologies - the crumbling, temple-like complex of the Cononish Guild is discovered, and the archive unearthed to reveal a vast library of gold scrolls, intelligible through a treadle-powered amplification device contained at the centre of the library. Scotland’s ancient past is revived.

Will Guthrie

Will has consistently shown an outstanding knowledge and analysis of architectural and artistic precedents and concepts, alongside great confidence and ability in design. His initial artistic investigations into materiality developed into a clearly defined architectural narrative, which has been developed and tested particularly thoroughly and with great conviction.

Throughout the year, Will has demonstrated great self-assurance, skill and creativity in presenting his ideas and final design.

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