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Collaborators: Graham Baldwin, Graham K Smith
British Geological Survey (BGS)
Chief Curator: Mike Howe
University Of Leicester Geologu Department:
Colin Waters, Mark Williams + Jan Zalasiewicz

Engineer: Davies Maguire

Year: 2019

Our proposal to design and curate the 2020 British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is two-fold and investigates the erasure of associations to continental Europe post Brexit and interrogates the landmass that remains.

Beyond discussions of economics, foreign investment and other ethereal forces that surround both contemporary architectural discourse in Great Britain, as well as their implications in leaving the European Union; we proposed to focus on the increasingly overlooked geology that remains and it’s significance in materials, architecture and territorial organisation.

Our first move was to enclose the pavilion in a highly reflected mirror box, causing the pavilion to disappear as it is approached within the Giardini, while isolating the content of the interior from the outside.

Our second move was to reveal the geology of Great Britain through both spectacle and scientific artefacts. In the Grand Salle we proposed to place a four billion year old Archaean Granitic boulder upon a carpet of earth and stones from the Hebridean Terrane (the oldest rock strata in the UK). In the surrounding rooms, we would examine the geological history through the base ingredients of the built environment. Each room would focus on one of five primary materials; Clay, Coal, Iron Ore, Limestone and Sand. They are not only building materials in their own right, but together they make up the ingredients of concrete: the most abundant form of rock in the Anthropocene. Each of the five ingredients would have been exhibited through stratigraphy maps, core samples, acetate peels, micro/macro photography, specimens on loan or produced with the BGS and the University of Leicester.

Alongside our proposal, we would use the pavilion as a forum for discussing the relationship between geology and the built environment.

The feasibility of the proposal was developed in conjunction with Davies Maguire and the content/curation was developed and researched alongside chief curator Mike Howe from the BGS, and leading geologists: Colin Waters, Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester.

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