What's That Blue Crop Growing in Your Field?
This is a proposal to reignite a productive landscape across 70 square miles of the English countryside – the project uses the cultural significance of the productive landscape as its driver, rather than solely for a yield of produce.
We’ve always been tied to agriculture – the fact that our words ‘culture’ and ‘cultivate’ share the same stem tells its own story. However, life is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers – so if we’re not going to grow food in our countryside, what exactly are we going to do with it? What are the cultural and political forces tugging at our hedgerows?
One of these forces is the preservation of landscapes – with 50 percent of our landscapes preserved, and 25 percent deemed an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The criteria for an AONB is simply ‘beauty’ itself, a subjective decision made by Natural England – yet how are they positioned to tell us what is beautiful or not?
In order to be relevant, we have to change the way we work with our landscape. The project proposes a new use: agriculture to new ends, that of culture.
Situated in the North Wessex Downs AONB – a dramatic landscape of open fields and rolling hills – the project proposes the cultivation and curation of flax fibre. Flax fibre is the raw material used to make linen – it’s chosen as an agent for culture, for its beautiful qualities both as a crop and material to be used. Its cultivation will re-identify the landscape as a locally characteristic cycle of production, marked every July by colourful fields of blue.
The design of the landscape and the structures within it have been driven by the processes needed to cultivate the material, to enhance it visually and experientially – it's been a constant negotiation between production and culture.
This is not supposed to be an agricultural theme park. This is a new, constantly changing, English landscape – that filters back into our society and culture at a variety of different scales. For those experiencing the landscape, that could be by foot, nonchalantly by car or train, even scrolling through Google Earth you’d notice the swerving plough lines, or new found sea of blue. But you don’t have to experience the landscape to appreciate it: new products will be made with it, and it’ll be represented in artwork in galleries around the world. For this could be the English landscape – and like all the Hockneys and Constables across time – it’s one to be portrayed in art to come.
School of Architecture
MA Architecture, 2019
- BA Architecture, University of Cambridge, 2011
- Artist in residence, Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai, 2014; Architectural assistant, David Chipperfield Architects, Shanghai, 2012-13; Architectural assistant, Haworth Tompkins, London, 2011-13
- "Faces and Traces" Group Art Exhibition, SAPH, Shanghai, 2014; Open Studio, Shanghai, Shanghai, 2014; ArcSoc Exhibition, The London Dairy, 2012