An Architecture Between Two Cultures: The Highland CouncilWritten by Issi Nanabeyin
Between Architecture and ‘Race’ 2020
Dominant history has always been the British gaze mapped onto the African landscape. We find ourselves always looking at the 'radical' politics elsewhere, instead of the national politics here. This project will be reverse to that construction, imagining the African gaze mapped onto the British landscape, to describe a 'radical' idea in response to the question: who should own the land of the Scottish Highlands? The project's ambition is to challenge existing land-ownership boundaries by constructing a radical vessel that roams across the highlands, rehabilitating the land and cultivating conversations in a way that requires communities' cultural diversity and appreciation.
This project is a result of my Thesis: Unsettling Binaries: Architecture and Re-imagining a Racial-cultural Hybrid Space in Britain. It asked if space can draw racial-cultural difference, can it also construct connections? Can space be (re)composed to unsettle racial-cultural binaries rather than create them? Through my research of 'Black'(ish) British performative works, I found a series of architectural conditions that could compose a plural, dynamic, fluid, performative, agile architecture beyond racial-cultural binaries and more representative of the modern British nation.
As Frantz Fanon concludes Black Skins, Whites Masks, ‘…the black man is not. No more than the white man. Why not simply try to touch the other, feel the other, discover each other?’
2018-20 • MArch Architecutre (Distinction), The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.
2020 • The Bartlett Architecture Medal
2021 • Designs on History: The Architect as Physical Historian. Editor, Jonathan Hill. Authors, Elizabeth Dow and Jonathan Hill. Published in, Designs on History 2021