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Ductile Space: The Architecture of Procession

Part 1 Project 2013
Brett Dobson
Manchester School of Architecture UK
Processional activity temporarily re-orders the city, creating ductile relationships between spaces within the urban context. This unification results in lateral programmatic shifts within a procession’s spatial field, turning once neutral spaces into places of observation. These spaces in turn become subject to the procession’s aura, which is symbolically represented through its ceremonial iconography and action. The involvement of these objects within ritualistic behaviour elevates their status to physical representations of the procession’s meaning. In turn, they act as mediators between the observer, and the parading institution, creating new spatial relationships within an urban setting.

By mapping the routes of Manchester’s processional activity, relationships arise through the dissemination of substance through the processional act. The programme and its setting is an analogue of this process – re-distributing traces and artifacts through the civic architecture of Manchester. These civic buildings are understood as ‘urban cornerstones’ (foundations for urban collective memory). Like the iconography within the procession these cornerstones are also symbolic mediators creating a dialogue between the history of institutions and the urban environment. Processional routes tie these monuments together, unifying them into an alternative network of distribution.

The Auction Hall plugs into and reorders this existing network. Like a procession an auction is the theatrical event which elevates the status of relics, giving them meaning and displacing them throughout the city. The strategic positioning of the Auction Hall along these key processional routes renews dialogues between the site and the processional activity happening within its spatial field. Sequentially, it creates a new cornerstone for the processional life of the city.

Brett Dobson


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