Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Tutors: Matthew Butcher, Elizabeth Dow, Jonathan Hill
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, established in 1603 with Galileo as chair, is relocated to the City of London to provide a new education system to tackle the Square Mile’s lack of moral purpose.
The Academy is a monochrome mass of libraries and ritualistic lecture spaces set in a landscape to induce physical and metaphysical wandering, meeting and reflection. Three environments are provided, inspired by the core natural elements of mountain (for isolation and reflection), river (wandering and activity) and valley (gathering).
The use of a monochrome palette within the academy with materials such as Travertine and Basalt increases capacity in the area of the human brain responsible for learning and perception. This offsets the red and gold of the papal robes.
Libraries include the Casina di Studio Little House of Study, set in a vertical landscape for wandering. Veneer construction is a metaphor for the ephemeral interpretation of Academy publications. The Casina Della Conoscenza Door of the Little House of Knowledge leads to formal and informal meeting spaces and a scientific experiment fabrication workshop. An Apostolic Auditorium includes a confession pool to ritualistically clear the mind before debate.
Although allegorical to the Vatican, the proposal goes beyond a religious or scientific typology and deliberately refuses an immediate reading.