Tales of the Unexpected
Tales of the Unexpected
‘Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything. Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.’
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
The project proposes a renewed engagement with landscape as a means to revive the village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire from its current state of cultural stagnation to one of accelerated production.
As home to Roald Dahl, the village is built on mythology. From the inclusion of local buildings in his novels, to the mysterious origins of landmarks such as the Hellfire caves, the village is preserved not for its primary merit but through its fictionalisation. Within this scenario, the effects of large-scale objective planning present a paradox, facilitating the villages inhabitation as a flattened image of pastoral living, yet simultaneously threatening such an image through their abstract realisation.
Observing the disillusionment caused by such planning as part of a broader socio-political tendency towards borders and territorialisation, the project establishes the Institute of Territory and Land Bargaining, an organization seeking a new approach to large-scale planning in order to reinstate a culture of progression and development.
Believing that the town’s future has first to be imagined, then performed, the institute co-opts existing mythologies as the foundation for a new engagement. Capitalising on Great Missenden’s status as the heart of UK hot-air ballooning, the institute undertakes the act of tracing balloon flights at ground, breaking from the conventional measures of territory and thus requiring new interactions, negotiations and interventions.
As facilitator, the institute’s engagement is one of radical primitivism, encouraging basic responses to problems along the route, gaining credence through the enthusiastic participation of locals. An act of productive disruption, the specificity of this activity creates a wealth of built consequences and in turn unravels connections to broader global networks of production.
Cut through by the path, five case study buildings explore various themes to reimagine how, through increased local engagement, we might encourage positive development, from new builds in the green belt to altered heritage assets.
As the foundation of new fictions, the institute’s strategy reignites a process of change in which themes and mythologies are developed. A combination of fiction, performance, and reality gives a proposal that is not itself the transformation, but rather the catalyst for a new vernacular.