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Moored Vessel of Memories

Part 1 Project 2012
Lawrence Khoshdel
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
The moored vessel of memories is an off-grid residence in the Pentlands for six writers to retreat for a year, seeking inspiration from the sculpture gardens of Little Sparta; the life-long achievement of concrete poet Ian Hamilton Finlay.

The gardens appear as a secluded island in the sea of moorland, once inside a mysterious world is unveiled offering intimate moments of discovery for the writers. Each area is given an artefact which reigns like a small deity or spirit of place. Detached from Little Sparta, the retreat entails that a special pilgrimage is made between the two
realms, exploiting sensory engagement with the elements to locate rituals of dwelling in place and evoke the emotions of resident writers. As in the gardens, water is carefully orchestrated in its various states to interact with the writers; the animated reflection of light upon flowing water, the diffused glow of the sun through misty air, the eternal roar of a waterfall.

Completely self-sufficient, the retreat harnesses its surroundings in order to survive, with the symbiotic involvement of the writers. Like a tree the retreat provides refuge whilst enabling the writers to remain immersed in the magical landscape of Little Sparta. Like a cave it bestows the warmth and quiet of a maternal womb. By playing with gradation of exposure to the elements, the writers acquire an awareness of the environment and how it affects their experience of the building, influencing their own thoughts and ideas.

Through this layering into the site the peculiarities of place find their expression. The building becomes anchored into the ancient landscape, a moored vessel from which the writers can retreat and cultivate the collective memory of Little Sparta with the passage of time. The lives and acquired experiences of each writer are memorialised in an introverted tower of knowledge, housing the vast collection of literature left behind by Ian Hamilton Finlay. A place of solitude where the writers reflect on each other’s work and thoughts, bringing new life to Finlay’s legacy.

Lawrence Khoshdel


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