image ©James Morris
Stone age: Located on a seam of chalk that extends from the White Cliffs of Dover through to Norfolk on the east coast of Britain, the building is treated as landscape or geological extrusion. Flint is an ancient material related to jasper, obsidian and onyx; a hard, cryptocrystalline form of quartz found only in chalk, and in abundance on the surface of the ploughed fields surrounding the site.
The site is a curious linear island isolated within the context of a large estate. It is a strange, still place; an anomoly of wilderness within its highly cultivated agricultural context.
The Form: The building has a rawness that echoes the landscape, jutting from the ground like a collision of tectonic plates, a man-made mountain that follows the profile of the existing trees. The landscape and architecture are inextricably linked, and the form is sculpted using layers of natural materials found there: flint and chalk with inclusions of concrete, glass and metal. The architecture becomes an optical device, at once a platform, frame and lens for viewing the surrounding landscape and context.
Geological Extrusion: There is a material transformation over the building where at its base it appears to be almost ripped raw from the ground before it undergoes a ‘civilizing process’ as it progresses into the uppermost ethereal chalk layer where it finally dissolves into the sky. It embodies the idea of the geological extrusion, infinite age and of revealing something already there. This was the fundamental generator for the design, and carries through from the form itself into the materiality and final detail. The site is inextricably bound to the building at all levels.
txt: Skene Catling de la Peña