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SOM Foundation UK Award

Stonehenge Institute of Education & Archaeology

Part 2 Project 2002
Kristian Hyde
University of Portsmouth | UK
The Visitor to the stones takes on the role of a pilgrim, who must enter a sacred domain as any pilgrim would approach a sacred place, with at least a modicum of acceptance, prior knowledge and purposeful intent.

There will be no intervention, just reaction to the forces already present. The spatial theme will focus on the configuration of the path and the issue of promenade. While forms and archetype’s scatter the landscape in reaction to ground forces, archaeology and the local geometry.

The historical avenue will be the point of entry into Nietzche’s notion of space, a force field generated by the dynamism of bodily movement. This pilgramatic approach to the stones will be a painful reminder of the weight of stone, following in the footsteps of ancestors.

Then from a festive calmness the temple would appear like scattered pebbles on the horizon, and with every footstep grow near.

Architecture is then involved, returned to the simple. . .

I am fascinated by the idea of the poetic, defined by the weight of truth in the work and its ability to reveal the totality of its ambition, and while architecture may still possess some of its tainted Heroism, through its exhausted ability to displace space, at the end of the day the task in hand for me is to inspire space with a feeling of great power and deep silence.

An architecture that in a profound way responds to the human condition, a kind of phenomenology of spirit.

Kristian Hyde


This thesis took on the almost impossible problem of a visitor’s centre at Stonehenge and quickly announced that no visitor’s centre was needed, rather a shift in culture that made the Henge a place of learning, storing knowledge (artefacts) and of pilgrimage.

With this approach, the landscape was explored as an ancient map and new buildings and places created to compliment and reinforce the past- the cultural tourist is is allowed distant views of the stones and a closer inspection becomes available by foot, or horseback (a stable block is provided as part of the ensemble) whilst museum and lecture facilities seek to educate. At every turn the architecture seems understated, earthbound and timeless, concerned more with framing views, experiences and particular points in a special place in the world- only with the flooded court framing an oratory for the spiritual aspects the stones may evoke does the language become perhaps too laden in concrete, sun and water. For the academic, an archive is created as a timber clad, mute box atop an earthen plinth, a kind of packing case for relics.

Overall, the design seeks a unity of architectural expression that recalls Kahn’s place making, Scarpa’s attention to detail and materiality.
A beautifully thought out thesis, immaculately presented without all the latest fashions and fads, without recourse to gimmicky computer generated forms (yet drawn on computer) that strives for a kind of architectural poetry. A thesis that perhaps a greater debt to T.S. Eliot than architecture school- what a relief.

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