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The Memory Archive

Part 2 Project 2012
Jack O'Reilly
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester UK
‘Peatlands are areas of land with a naturally accumulated layer of peat. These are formed under water logged conditions from carbon rich, dead and decaying plant material. However, over many centuries man has destroyed these lands, through drainage channels excavating the peat for fuel’. Peatlands provide essential services on many levels including economies, society, climate and biodiversity acting on global, national and local scales. It has therefore become of utmost importance to restore these natural climatic regulators.

‘The Memory Archive’ is an architectural intervention which explores the possibility of using architecture as a means of restoring the peat lands found in the hinterland of the Manchester Ship Canal at Chat Moss restoring some of the lost services such as tourism and biodiversity.

The programme fits within a landscape master plan that is designed as a place if isolation. It reinstates the landscape offering a series of pavilions as areas of creativity for artists or peace and relaxation for authors.
Preservation inherent to peat bogs has been the driving ideology of the programme. The main building within the landscape centres around a fuel archive. The idea of a fuel archive is in keeping with the idea of ‘memory’ where when the time of ‘peak oil’ arrives it shall be possible to archive samples of extinct petroleum compounds. Viles of fossil fuels extinct after oil has declined are stored in specially designed channels sitting in drainage channels once used by the local industries which have destroyed the landscape. Filling these channels with archived material restores the water table and in doing so the landscape.

The image depicting the future landscape predicts the resultant change to the land after the scheme is introduced. Focused on preservation and memory the scheme provides a series of ‘memory pavilions’ at the end of a long walk way which enhances an interaction with nature.

The architecture is designed such that it amplifies the landscape and has a minimal impact on the surroundings. Taking influence from the principles of stealth and sightlines the building successfully disappears to allow the beauty and isolation of the wetland to stand out.

Jack O'Reilly

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