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A Robinson Institute

Part 2 Project 2019
Matthew Bovingdon-Downe
University of Cambridge | UK
A Robinson Institute is intended as an experimental settlement cum ecological research institute set in a former limestone quarry in north Oxford, as per the elusive utopia in Patrick Keiller’s Robinson series.

My first impulse was to treat the film as a kind of cinematic constitution for a piece of architecture; as an aggregate of fundamental principles (and precedents) determining the physical structure and social organisation of the community. That designing the Institute was a matter, a la Kahn, of asking the film what it wanted to be. This proved difficult however, owing to the discursive formation of Keiller’s oeuvre.
In watching, or reading, Keiller’s films we are encouraged at times by something reminiscent of narrative progression, only to have it disrupted by the juxtaposition of intervening interests. One has the overwhelming impression of constituent parts, of units in an absent itinerary - of not being able to see the wood for the trees.
The Robinson Institute might be read as a series of digressions and subdigressions, structured around an ex??pedition I made to the aforementioned ??quarry, without ??quite ever making it. It is offered in defence of digressive procedure, and the importance of maintaining a critical susceptibility to new situations.

Matthew Bovingdon-Downe


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