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SOM Foundation UK Award
Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing

Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Part 2 Project 2015
Benjamin Ferns
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) | UK
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, established in 1603 with Galileo as chair and Professor Stephen Hawking as a current member, is to be located in the City of London, using techniques not usually associated with academia.

Responding to Pope Francis’ acceptance of scientific theories and a reappraisal of the Catholic faith to challenge prior beliefs, the programme contains libraries and ritualistic lecture spaces, situated within a landscape to induce physical and metaphysical wandering. The reading rooms are monumentalised through daily reaffirmation, whereas storage chambers become ephemeral as the interpretation of their content is slowly rewritten. A stimulating territory promotes chance interaction, where isolation is momentary but never complete, becoming a journey of exploration and understanding in itself.

The proposal goes beyond a religious or scientific typology, investigating the potential of collage through Baroque painterly characteristics and oblique perspectives. Relationships between programmatic fragments continue the chiaroscuro lineage of Piranesi, through hatched travertine and basalt articulation. Material becomes a trace of an architectural thought process, while the use of monochrome increases capacity in the area of the human brain responsible for learning and perception. Allegorical to the Vatican, the drawn proposal being both familiar yet strange, refuses an immediate reading.

Benjamin Ferns

Matthew Butcher
Ms Elizabeth Dow
Mr Jonathan Hill
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