Commendation SOM Winner Serjeant Award
The process began with the analysis of obvious references to the environmental unities from which place interacts. In this case the south side of the river Thames, between Lambeth Bridge and Tower Bridge. Using mirrors I charted a journey along the riverbed at low tide, cataloguing physical and emotional states, depending on the rivers ebb and flow. This method of experiencing a journey created a personal identity with the place in unveiling the hidden.
The historical diversity of London started a conversation about a school of knowledge and languages, with The Tower of Babel as a biblical analogy, continuing the theme of the research of earth, sky, man and the spiritual. Here the pursuit of knowledge becomes another form of journey in life.
The language school floats above a cut in the landscape. The underground rooms house the reading hall, which becomes literally a wall of books. The teaching laboratories are housed in the tower and both are encased in a walled courtyard at ground level, unifying the project. The writing on the walls echo the Bibliotheque St. Genevieve, by Henri Labrouste. The division between the sunken library lit from above and the floating language and research laboratories are connected by a Jacob’s ladder. The perforated layers of a reflective metal and glass skin create a level of transparency during certain times of the day and year. The mirrors are strategically placed underneath the tower, bringing the theme of the process and design full circle.
The school becomes the personal experience to the user, physically and emotionally. An individual and collective memory to the institution is created and its context is a form of Gestalt.
Mr Seamus Ward