The Architecture Centre Network (ACN) was an independent organisation representing centres of architecture and the built environment in the UK. ACN commissioned Atoll to prepare a series of retrospective case studies on the work on the network centres. Below is featured the fifth of six articles prepared in August 2006:
Bristol saw the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel marked in 2006 by a series of ‘Brunel 200’ 1celebrations. Brunel was a man of ideas who saw the great opportunities of the industrial revolution, and brought together arts and sciences in a way never seen before – creating projects of both function and beauty. To commemorate his creative fusion, one of the key projects was for a ‘200 ideas for Bristol’ competition – that called for ‘great ideas to make Bristol an even better place to live in, work in and visit’.
Submitting proposals for a project called Platform to the competition, Jonathan Mosely and Sophie Warren visualised Bristol being used as a game board – with players navigating passage throughout the city to visit defined places, to leave behind a ‘platform’ sculpture and then to document it. The submitted idea was spotted by Lottie Storey, the regional co-coordinator for Architecture Week in the South West, who with Gillian Fearnyough, Director of The Architecture Centre, 2 commissioned and managed the project to take place before Architecture Week 3 in June, so that an exhibition of the game could then feature during the week. The project was one of three commissioned works, and was part of an initiative designed to get people to think about architecture by getting out onto the street and talking to them about it.
Jonathan Mosley is an artist and architect who lectures at the University of the West of England, and Sophie Warren a Fine Art Sculptor. As such, their past collaborative work has often centred on projects that respond to place and context through architecture, intervention and gallery based installation.4 Platform was conceived by them during a joint research trip to Mexico City, with their idea for Bristol being centred on a transportable case with an OS map of the city placed in the lid. This map showed the physical city including the houses, buildings and gardens, with a grid overlaid. The inside of the case was separated into 70 compartments, each which held a ‘platform’ – a ‘cuboid’ sculpture with steps cut into the edges. Each of 70 players chose a different intersection point on the grid on the map and were invited to take the related ‘platform’ to the real intersection point in Bristol and leave it there. Players were invited to send back photos, text or email, as a record of the journey and placements having taken place. Collectively, the individual journeys and actions of the participants were intended to create a mass survey of the city – one which according to the two artists, could “map the diversity and the intrigue of our built environment”.
Even though the show finished in July, documentation images are still being received back. Both Mosely and Warren are interested in Platform now being applied to other cities – where they feel people can get to know a city through the game. They are particularly interested in going to a city they don’t know and seeing the images that would come back from there. Platform was the second piece of work that the Architecture Centre has commissioned from the two artists. The success of these projects has developed the collaborative relationship between the Architecture Centre and artists, and exploring further the cultural overlap between art, architecture and urbanism itself – whilst helping present work in new ways, and developing new audiences in the process.
The Platform structure was conceived as an sculptural and architectural shape – being made out of Jasamite durable plaster with Portland stone dust and some black pigment in it and cast.
Platform can be played in any city. A case will contain a kit for the game with a large scale map on the inside lid, platforms laid out within it for display and to take away along with a set of maps and game rules.The case will be carried around the city and opened up for display to engage the passer-by.
The passer-by is invited to choose an existing Ordnance Survey grid intersection point on a map of the city which is positioned on the inside lid of the case and marks his or her name on that point. He or she is given the rules of the game, a map to take away (also with the intersection point marked) and a platform. The moment the platform is handed over to the participant the game begins.
The participant navigates his/her way to the point, and holds, drops, positions or discards the platform as near to the intersection point as possible.
The platform is documented in the place by the participant by a photograph, text message or email description which is then sent to the artists who collate and circulate the information to all the participants.
All documentation and feedback is put on display within the case (now empty of platforms) which evolves as a working record of the game’s progress.
Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley’s work has been exhibited in the UK and New York and published in the architectural and art press. Current projects include ‘Howtomakeartinparadise’ an initiative in response to suburbia with Neville Gabie and Tessa Fitzjohn; a collaboration with architectural writer Robin Wilson resulting in a series of publications and interventions; and work for ‘Wig Wam Bam’, an exhibition curated by Marcus Coates and Claire Barclay with Plan9 at the Red Lodge during the British Art Show in Bristol.