The Fantasy of Clarendon Mansion
2020 RIBA Bronze Medal Nominee
The project unhinges the stories wrapped around the tourist heart of Brighton through the critique of a Regency hotel, Clarendon Mansions. The hotel is revealed as an amalgamation of systems as the stories it is wrapped in unravel. The notion of the tourist information office is subverted to generate a portal to reality, drawing tourists into an engagement with the truths beneath this thinly applied face of the city.
An investigation into lichens inhabiting tourist areas revealed limitations in our perception of the world and unpicked preconceptions. Microscopic exploration revealed lichen topographies as rich as landscapes, but which go unseen due to blinkered vision. A lichen viewer began to materialise an architectural language in response to the systemic reality it was encountering with the system as co-author. The subverted tourist office in Clarendon Mansions was born of the unheralded systems of the site, wind flows, sunlight, rainfall, flooding, decay and non-human life forms. The possibility of an interior world free from ‘nature’ is dismantled, boundaries expand outwards disrupting readings of a definable single entity. Through revealing the mansion for what it really is, rather than the fantasy it purports to be, tourists are introduced to the reality of existence itself.