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A New North

Part 2 Project 2012
Neal Tanna
University of Greenwich, UK
The project is focused on the relationship of the architectural site to methods of geographic measurement alongside the principles of adaptive construction. Through the scheme I developed a bespoke method of cartography over Greenwich Park, creating a framework to place an underground celestial observatory. The site, steeped in navigational and horological history, is taken as a debating venue between the real nature of the built edifice and the virtual sites created by inquiry and exploration.

I apply a cosmological infrastructure as a means to probe Modern design concepts. The reassigning of time and measurement by means of devising a site specific cartography through local and moving celestial alignments creates an opportunity to explore paths of design beyond contemporary views of constrained construction, production and measurable interaction. These designs display growth and adaption as they fluidly supersede and augment weathered architectural components whilst the experience of occupation shifts from implied and predicated discrete values to a soft, motive equilibrium within the system.

Located within the grounds of Greenwich Park, the workings of the observatory are dense in meaning and function. Referring mainly to the zodiac and virtue references of James Thornhill in his Painted Hall in the King Williams Court, the initial mapping point of the design, the underground observatory doubles as a timepiece which aims to be both accurate in its perpetual nature as a zodiac calender and as a calibrated astronomical telescope, tracking the planets and stars in the celestial sphere.

The clock supplements the view-pieces, splitting the measurements generated into elemental counting hands, a bespoke time measurement for a custom chronometer. The positions of the planets are represented as virtues, projecting onto a dish circling the central time piece. All of the information calculated is transformed as tremors etched onto a mirrored sphere above the mechanism which is smashed and replaced every notable astronomical epoch, indicating a death and rebirth in the relationship of site and celestial conditions, the spark of destruction for the creation of the virtual sites of exploration.

Neal Tanna


Mr Phil Watson
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