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Secret of Magdalen Laundries

Part 1 Project 2011
Mangyuan Wang
University of Nottingham
This project is a response to the hidden history of Magdalen Laundries.

Starting with a series of initial touch stones made by concrete and rusting steel, the project attempted to seek a unique and proper architectural language to echo the scarness behind the narrative. A series of drawings were produced later to convert developed language into more detail spatial existence.

The whole project is a complex of chapel, baths, memorial space, library/archive, residence, and wild rose gardens.
The concept of the project is mainly divided into four parts:

The disconnection between city and Magdalene Asylum, between city and victims should be re-understood and re-constructed. When victims were forced to incarnate into the asylum, River Lee as a natural barrier, further pushed them away from city.

Lining up the asylum, river, and city, the project proposes to reconnect the asylum with the city by a subtle architectural way: a metaphoric bridge to visually touch three elements as a gesture to respect to those victims.

A chapel and baths are proposed in this project; this wired composition echoes the original purification process by Magdalen Laundries which is based on water, scrubbing and spiritual atmosphere.

Bathers are invisible audiences. Sitting at the threshold between chapel and baths, they wash away their sins along with the stains within the spiritual space.

Magdalen's dream mainly explores and demonstrates the rich inner world of those victims in a very personal way. As Fenster pointed out, the women's lives were rich with individual desires, in sleep 'they enfold the body, carry its warmth, desire, perfume, and wrap it in death'.

When sunlight penetrates down and steam comes up within columns, the dreams and desires of victims are revealed as the dynamic light shadows casted on the surrounding surfaces.

The secret gardens of wild rose are designed to be scatted within vast area of reed grass field. Through forming strong vision, hearing, and tactility contrasts between different materials, this project creates a landscape for thinking, exploring, and commemorating.

Mangyuan Wang

Mr David Short
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