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Warden Point Palaeontological Society

Part 2 Project 2012
Tzi Leung Man
University of Kent | UK

Warden Point Palaeontological Society sited adjacent to a ribbon settlement orientated perpendicularly towards the coast it has been falling into the sea for hundreds of years. The soft clay cliff disintegrates at an alarming rate. Amazing paleontological finds can be picked from the exposed clay, whilst the few disenfranchised, heroic residents refuse to retreat from the encroaching cliff. At the base of the cliff lies a collection of fallen military costal defence structures, architectural analogues beside the bountiful fossil finds. This project combined influences from Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, current debates about ‘intelligent design’ and evolution, John Fowles novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the traditions of amateur palaeontology, and engineering ‘statics’ as design inspirations.

Pseudomorphism is a term applied to fossils whereby the organic remains of a creature are replaced by a calcium substitute, mounded by the surrounding clay; a masonry facsimile of a natural form. Comparisons were struck with the Victorians’ fascination with the natural world and their pseudomorphed interiors; where plaster-cast ceiling roses, cornices and fireplaces, and plaster-and -lath timber-framed walls masquerading as both monumental masonry and at the same time reference nature and its flora. Warden Point Palaeontological Society is an essay on the ethics of architectural manifestation in an intentionally objective vocabulary, combining sacrificial formwork, an opposing sequence of subtractive and additive building practices and associated spatial sequences with innovative technologies of organic self-growing tendril foundations. This is a collection of buildings that both resist and anticipate the inevitable and rapid erosion of the cliff that will render some of these buildings as eventual architectural fossils on the beach below. Ultimately this project is about the enduring polemics of formalism and rationalism.

Tzi Leung Man


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