The Bartlett: Time, space, refurbishment

Perhaps as much as anyone with a love for buildings and and an appreciation of place, I can never pass by a good opportunity to get access to a derelict space. In this case it’s more empty than derelict and a strange in between place, almost stripped of all memory, awaiting its rewriting. I was never part of its original life as Wates House, home to The Bartlett School of Architecture and The Bartlett School of Planning for 40 years, soon to be refurbished by architectural practice Hawkins\Brown.

In a way that kept me from looking for memories; instead just discovering random interesting bits of structure, text, colour. I guess part of what makes exploring these places so much fun is that we can fancy ourselves as some sort of detectives, tracking signs of life that have survived and exist now, without purpose and context, without audience. In isolation and cut apart as they become in a gutted building, they somehow become slightly more significant, but also slightly more obscure, disjointed, abstract. Short messages scrawled on a wall turn into murals, the tint of colours and layers on a stripped wall could be art on a canvas.

It’s enjoyable perhaps because it makes us really search for things. Without the ubiquity of a neatly fitted, furnished space, we can become more aware of its idiosyncrasies and think about what the whole fuss about places and their impact on us means. That, and I love a good bit of sentimentality, me. But enough of my derelict space ramblings, photos below.

Also worth viewing on the topic is The Bartlett School of Architecture’s MArch Architecture graduate Daniel Cotton’s animated film about Wates House.