Belfast Exposed, Subterranean Archive and Photographic Development Facility
Belfast’s turbulent political history and cultural clashes have long since nurtured and stimulated a culture of recorded information. The city hosts a collective of libraries, archives and museums, but of these, Belfast Exposed presents a raw truth, on the front line approach. A true, rather than speculative history of events has been meticulously catalogued as over half a million photographs (to date).
Using this client, my projects aims to encourage this continuing culture of photography whilst providing a landscape which allows the substantial body of information to be exposed and accessible to the public whilst incorporating unconventional as well as traditional photographic development processes which bring the users physical trace within the fabric of the photograph itself. Every photo will be traceable to its origin.
To enrich and encourage the use of the archives, the facility becomes a journey, from the innovative dark room processes, solar exposure canals, aperture landscapes and habitable silver nitrate development pools. The nature of the landscape itself aims to explore the nature of recorded information in its very structure and materiality, projecting a textural space through processes such as cast concrete casting, adding a dimension of physical traces of the architectural makeup, a subterranean series of levels varying in volumes and materials.
The projects physicality intends to dual as a social dwelling area on the surface, encouraging the use of Blackstaff square and offering a venue for performances and lectures in the open air ‘incline’ theatre which cantilevers dramatically from one of the three concrete monoliths, creating a vast descending chasm into the archive landscape below. These monoliths act as wells, varying in levels and functions, a store of information, a educational facility and lastly a monolith to enrich the site at ground level, offering amenities to the dweller or the commuter.
The theatre spectacle not only creates a dynamic form, but represents a pride in photographic culture, drawing the public towards the square through curiosity as the city fabric opens up to make way for this protruding landscape, shielding a history below. The incline theatres intention is to project upon the neighbouring palimpsest wall.