Ben Hayes: Re-imagining Cultural Landscapes
Re-imagining Cultural Landscapes is a show of work by architect Ben Hayes, part of Circus Gallery’s exhibition series, The Future, So Far.
Ben’s design work, Kizhi Island recently won him the RIBA Silver Medal for his proposal to protect and restore wooden orthodox churches in Northern Russia and reconstruct Kizhi Island. His design is for a museum landscape that will facilitate the restoration and reassembly of over 250 wooden Orthodox churches onto Kizhi Island in Northern Russia.
In the next 10-15 years these wooden structures will totally disappear. The churches were once central to their communities, just as the Orthodox faith was central to the people. These fragile, desecrated structures have a spiritual presence that commands respect. They speak of the inner lives of the people in this place. This lyrical proposal explores in depth the changing relationship between the Russian landscape and national identity, tracing back the influence of Romanticism at the start of the nineteenth century and looking at the wide scale impact of Soviet collectivisation and de-ruralisation. Ben’s design proposal seeks to challenge our approach to landscape in the future, from a scenographic understanding and a more dialogic relationship to landscape space. The project Kizhi Island re-imagines the programme of the existing open-air museum on Kizhi Island and considers a more ambitious architectural intervention, radically expanding it to include over 200 desecrated wooden churches. His design proposes a new restoration facility and museum to facilitate the dismantling of the church monuments from their original location, their transportation to Kizhi via shipping, their restoration and open-air curation across the whole island. The facility contains both temporary and permanent structures for research, storage, preservation and exhibition of each church that has been relocated.
The project addresses two problems: it protects and restores this fragile heritage, that today is on the verge of total extinction, and it dramatically redesigns the visitor experience on the island. The intervention adopts an approach to the island’s landscape: the whole island is treated as a repository of protected buildings that is constantly transforming, thus challenging future notions of preservation and heritage. The new formation of this landscape will be the impetus for the comprehensive study of the buildings and amassing data connected to them. The project is an earnest call for the protection and celebration of this most fragile part of the cultural heritage of Russia.
Ben is currently working on The Russian Ark Project, a research collaborative that plans to fabricate a full scale timber church once famously depicted in the painting, Above Eternal Peace by Russian landscape painter Isaak Levitan. The group aims to assemble the timber church in the UK in summer 2015. For more information about The Russian Ark Project visit, www.therussianarkproject.org.uk
To order a copy of the book, Wooden Churches by Richard Davies, please visit www.richarddavies.co.uk