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invisible boundary hotel

Part 1 Project 2000
James Pike
Oxford Brookes University Oxford | UK
The Invisible boundary is a point of change or concealment, the moment at which conditions are neither one nor the other.

A continual process of investigation was undertaken using a suitcase for an impostor as a tool for a sequence of ‘scale’ tests. As an object it induces a series of intricate relationships with surrounding spaces, when tested at such scales (Personal/ Group/ Event) the suitcase becomes a recording device that simultaneously exposes and exploits existing divisions, while physically and emotionally exploring and constructing new invisible boundaries.

The Hotel and its transient programme were derived through its acceptance of the suitcase’s role as container thus canonising the complex interplay of identity, desire and disguise. The scheme occupies and explores the exact point at which such intimate relations collide and evolve with the existing natural landscape.

The design is centred around a ‘Fish Wall’ that runs the length and height of the hotel severing it in two. While seducing the swimmer both visually and aurally towards the sea, such an existence of sound and reflection can be considered as a piece of nature trapped within the transitory programme. Similarly cultivation areas providing crops for the restaurant are maintained and developed by power contributed through the physical demands of the gymnasium.

Guests are openly encouraged to overindulge themselves whether through the gourmet cuisine of the restaurant or the endurance of the gymnasium the pursuit of the artificial is of paramount importance. As it is only through such decadence that the individual sensual identity of the bathing act will be concealed thus accentuating the exact moment of seduction.

As with previous tests the container (Hotel) is then unfolded out onto its surroundings through the proposition of a programme of mobile allotment gardens. The division between necessary function and physical labour is re-interpreted as a form of leisure where need has been replaced by indulgence.

James Pike

The unit's aim was to investigate invisible boundaries; whether geographical, fluid, shifting, political, contrived, personal or public, factual or fictional, between the functional and the absurd, between utility and decadence. James' project tracks these objectives through the implement of a suitcase for an imposter, which he uses in a consistent series of 'scale' tests:

1) personal test: suitcase measures the site

2) group test: suitcase contains a game of cluedo which is enacted on the site

3) event test: unfold contents of suitcase along the cliff edge (a 40m long 'wall of seduction')

4) community test: hotel becomes suitcase / container. Sited at bathing club - nature and artifice collide. Hotel components provide sustenance to an artificial landscape through the operations of laundry, gym, restaurant

5) social test: hotel unfolds like suitcase to create an urban proposal for allotment gardens around the container.

James travelled around a series of coastal bathing sites in Ireland, and dressed in a disguise (wig, moustache, clothing) at each of them. At one site he discovered that even where nudity was permitted, swimming in disguise was not. At another, his disguise attracted great interest from what he discovered to be a gay subculture. His exploits were recorded by his personal 'stalker', whose identity remains anonymous. This exploration of identity and transience led to his cluedo game, where traces of identity were buried in the natural landscape, drawing the sea and the sky into a complex strategy of reflection and denouement. The 'seduction wall' explored a space for desire and ways of revealing identity.

The hotel programme developed from these investigations by internalising the game of identity and concealment, while drawing elements of the natural landscape into the deepest crevices of the hotel. Fish swim into the 'fish wall', never to return to the sea and are trapped by the light from above. Energy provided by treadmills and rowing machines in the gym operate an irrigation system which feeds the crops on the terraces tilting off the edges of the hotel. The moment of seduction of the swimmer by the sea (bathing club) is extended into a transient programme (hotel). The 2 minute stop of the train at it's station becomes a weekend by the sea.

James' agenda for a form of personal identity in social spaces is furthered by the programme of allotment gardens unfolding over the site. Hotel occupants and town inhabitants can even tend their allotments by remote website access in inclement weather conditions.

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