Cities and Other Ruins - Reflections on Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann
Sir John Soane’s Museum, 4 – 15 February 2014
Sir John Soane’s Museum presents a pop-up exhibition by Witherford Watson Mann examining the RIBA Stirling Prize 2013 winning Astley Castle, in relation to their wider work on city transformation. The exhibition, opening 4 February, will examine their unique approach with previously unseen visual material.
In the exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum, and an accompanying lecture hosted by LSE Cities, Witherford Watson Mann will explore the relation between ‘completing’ a ruin such as Astley, and participating in the always unfinished project of the city. With demolition and clearance still the preferred tools of ‘regeneration’ is there a case for a socially and materially richer process? Can an incremental imagination help unlock the capacity that is already there in our cities? What might be the poetics and politics of making and experiencing the city in this way?
The exhibition will feature previously unpublished material on Astley Castle, illustrating the way in which a nimble design response has been combined with an empathetic social imagination to achieve something unique.
Sir John Soane’s Museum provides a resonant backdrop to the exhibition, as a building which itself embodies a complex narrative of incremental urban transformation. The Museum’s current restoration project attempts to roll back the majority of dramatic interventions, returning the building where possible to Soane’s original vision and exploring the moral and material choices involved in deciding which built history to return to.
LSE cities are hosting an accompanying lecture, Broken Edges – Cities and other Ruins on Wednesday 12 February.