Projection involves an overlaying of information – the projection of light upon a surface, the projection of ideas upon a space. Our lived-in spaces are similarly layered constructions, a hybrid of present, past and future projections, real and imagined. The many lives and histories that animate the surfaces and spaces of buildings are hidden from view, but contribute to our experiences in ways that, while less tangible, are no less powerful than the materials with which they are constructed.
Wates House, home to the Bartlett Schools of Architecture and Planning at UCL, will be part-demolished and refurbished this Summer. Recognising this as a significant moment in the building’s life, the film offers a unique perspective on the life cycle of buildings and draws attention to the role of memory in our experience of space.
Contained within the film is a notional proposal for an architecture school, derived from the memories of its inhabitants and realised through the technique of projection mapping. Here, projection is employed as a tool with which to augment or re-imagine the spaces of Wates House by merging the real and the imagined to create a new spatial construct, a ‘third space’. A deeply personal and reflective narration runs throughout, revealing the multifarious, sometimes hilarious and often precarious relationships we maintain with our built environment. It also speculates on what it means for a building to ‘have life’, and calls for a more holistic approach to architectural design that incorporates and celebrates notions of death and decay.
Wates House (2014)
Written, directed, animated and filmed by Daniel Cotton.
Piano music composed and performed by Dora Lam.
Narration by Dora Lam.
Filmed on location at Wates House, and at Hackney Downs Studios in North London. Animated in Adobe After Effects.
Special thanks to Adrian Barker, Christian Sheldon, Don, Dora Lam, Jack Holmes, Jonathan Cooke, Keichii Iwamoto, Romario, Rory Keenan, and Sam Curtis Lindsay at Hackney Downs Studio for their help throughout filming.