This installation project by artist Fran Cottell and architect Marianne Mueller reflects on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground as the dream site for Jeremy Bentham’s experimental panopticon, the real Millbank Penitentiary, a military parade ground and now university campus, outdoor gallery and thoroughfare to Tate Britain.
From solitary confinement, to the military organisation of a group as a single unit to
today’s neoliberal forms of sociability, the social history of the Rootstein Hopkins
Parade Ground represents a cross section through architecture’s power to orchestrate
The intervention re-enacts a miniture version of the prison’s infamous plan, editing and reinterpreting it into a more socially active figure: a flower shaped bench. Each of the six pentagons or petals - originally shaped to facilitate social control and designated for solitary confinement - now invites informal gathering. The intervention plays with ideas of exclusion and segregation while offering a generous place within the larger barren square.
Generating and disrupting the social activity framed by the square this project builds on a series of previous intervention projects by Fran Cottell and Marianne Mueller into domestic and institutional spaces; the focus shifting from a relationship between visitors and inhabitants to between moving and static participation, occupations and activities to more unpredictable conditions and outcomes.
Fran Cottell is an artist, producing performance and installations since the 1970s. Her work questions how to show everyday ephemeral live experiences within the fixed frame of the art institution - how to preserve life, or rather the breath of ‘aliveness’. She has featured in performance art festivals and lectured about her work worldwide. Her work has been presented at the South London Gallery, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Ulster Museum, Belfast, the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and other institutions nationally. For over 10 years she has been staging live installations displaying the contents, visitors and occupants of her house for CGPLondon, documented in House: from Display to Back to Front; published by ktpress and supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation. The installation: The Relational in Architecture was developed for the Concrete Geometries at the Architectural Association. A book chapter: From House to Square, with Marianne Mueller, for Architecture in Effect, Re-Thinking the Social in Architecture, edited by Jennifer Mack, Sten Gromark, Roemer van Toorn, Sweden will be published in 2017. Fran is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts.
Marianne Mueller is an architect and academic. She is a founder and director of Casper Mueller Kneer Architects based in London and Berlin, a practice that has been recognised in the fields of art, culture and fashion. Recent projects include the critically acclaimed galleries for White Cube in Bermondsey, London, commissions for Parisian fashion house Celine worldwide and exhibition designs for the Wellcome Trust in London and the Jewish Museum in Berlin. A graduate of the Technical University Darmstadt and the Architectural Association in London, Marianne worked with Chora / Raoul Bunschoten, taught at the University of East London, the Technical University Berlin and the Architectural Association in London. She leads the Concrete Geometries Research Cluster, an initiative that investigates the relationship between architectural form and social behavior. Marianne is a professor for Architectural Design at the MSA, Münster School of Architecture.
Fabrication by Dexter Dymoke
Photography by Terry Watts
Drawings and Visualisations by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects
This project is supported by the Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Graduate School
Staff Fund, and Careers and Employability.
A special thank you to Malcolm Quin, George Blacklock, Nick Gorse, Chris Wainwright,
Kelly Palmer, Ken Wilder, Sian Stirling, Sarah Mclean, Jefford Horrigan, Jordan McKenzie, James Edgar, Michelle Bolger, Katy Deepwell, Liz May, Michele Fuirer, Frank Davis,
Mike Richards, Rosa Bevan, Silvia Ziranek and Olaf Kneer for their support, advice and time.
Thanks to Vicente Hernandez, Fengli Cheng, Keun Hye Lee, Marta Barina, Jens Bernhard,
Lulu Richards Cottell, Nate Frazer, Melloney Harvey, Tobias Rabbold, Sabrina Rothe and Bethan Wilkins for their help and participation with the project.
Thank you also to John Morgan Studio for lending the font ‘Caslon Egyptian’, a digital interpretation of the first ever acknowledged sans serif typeface designed in 1816, the same year that Millbank Prison took its first prisoners.
Publication designed by SO studio and published by Camberwell Press