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Paradoxical Preservation

Part 2 Project 2022
George Edward James
University of Kent | UK
Chatham Intra is a contradiction, a conservation area of non-place. Consisting of a high street and branching alleyways It holds the historic city-towns of Rochester and Chatham together, pinned tightly against the outside of a bend in the river Medway. Much of the London stock bricks, mortar, concrete, and porcelain that constructed an era of London’s built heritage (even when faced in Portland Stone) were extracted from the Medway basin. The nominated project develops a speculative, rather than propositional, narrative around a reciprocating relationship between the birth, life, and death of these buildings. Without a broader understanding of ‘sustainability’, the paradox between the climate-emergency imperative for ‘net-carbon zero’ environmental; societal; and conservation ethics, might lead us to a point where the holistic integrity of our civic experience, will increasingly be characterised by a form of ‘death-mask’ ‘demolition-behind-the-façade’ redevelopment, carried out in the name of conservation, but at the detriment to its meaning. In the face of this paradox, a critical re-writing for the 21st century, of originally well-intentioned principles of conservation, establishes a new institute in Chatham Intra, that arranges for the collection, return procession, celebration of life, and ceremonious recoding, of older buildings, at the end of their design-lives.
George Edward James


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