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Possible Fictions of New Lyonesse

Part 2 Project 2011
Michael Boyes
University of Sheffield Sheffield UK
‘New Lyonesse’ is a project exploring the architectural conditions of a building deliberately situated, both physically and conceptually, at the edge of society. Set off the Cornish coast, and co-opting the Arthurian legend of the lost island of Lyonesse (and the similar lost city of Ys, further to the south) the project extrapolates the themes of the fair as a site of transgression and takes them to their extremes, through the exploitation of legal loopholes and the subversion and inversion of social norms.

Building on an initial programme of a fish processing factory – designed to circumvent fishing quota legislation, and utilise currently wasted stock – an evolving community of marginalised people and transgressive programmes is developed. This then provides the framework for an architectural exploration of themes of fiction and the idea of the creative user. It becomes an ever-growing city which cannot escape its own narrative; where meaning is distorted by secondary and tertiary narratives and layers of perception, and the architecture warped by a series of literary filters.

Ultimately only a glimpse of a possible reality for the project is revealed, with viewers invited to add new layers of their own interpretations and stories: the project offers a starting point rather than a mute final object.

The project is born out of an interest in Architecture’s, and in particular architectural education’s, relationship with its own fictions; with the architect only ever as producer of representations masquerading as ‘reality’ but open to interpretation and change. The embracing of this fact in the power of architectural drawings to invite stories and fictions stands in marked contrast to the rejection of it in the built environment, which ignores the creative potential of the end user and the continues to subscribe to the pretence of the perfect architectural vision.

Michael Boyes


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