Billy approached Sophie on July 17, 2021
Dear Ms. James,
I was impressed by your The Astronomer and The Sea project in
today’s issue of Dezeen.
I am an 89-yr-old retired architect who still has naive questions
occasionally about what our goals are in our professional pursuits..
Lately, I have posed a question to myself: ” Can Architecture induce
compassion ? ” I find that your The Astronomer and The Sea “
seems to have a certain quality that inspires.
I love to hear your thoughts if you can spare the time to write to me.
Cheers and thanks !
Sophie James repied on July 30th :
Thank you so much for getting in touch, it is amazing to know that my work has reached so far! I am so glad that you enjoyed the sample of my project – The Astronomer and the Sea – it is a project that brought me a lot of joy to work on. I have attached my final presentation in its entirety if you would like to have a look.
Throughout my three years of studying architecture, I have been amazed by its ability to open up conversations and questions such as the one posed by yourself. Compassion became a key theme in The Astronomer and The Sea – how could architecture begin to evoke an emotional response to the climate crisis? The project itself took inspiration from my dissertation essay in which I explored how events are remembered and commemorated and how spaces take on the memories of their traumas. The spaces can then become an emotional tie for those affected or a truthful insight for generations to come. This line of enquiry lead me down the path of Daniel Libeskind and his use of voids in the Jewish Museum Berlin. Bringing this thinking into my project, I incorporated void spaces which stripped back all views to focus the visitor’s eye and mind towards the sky.
A similar thread has run through many of my projects, dealing with notions of history and memory – whether that be locational or sociological memory. A previous project of mine dealt with the idea of storytelling as a means of remembrance. In short, people visiting the proposal were encouraged to write notes and memories on seeded paper which could then be ‘planted’ on a communal wall. Once the seeds within the paper had flowered, a live wall of the people’s memories and stories would appear – In a way I feel like this approach begins to induce compassion through architectural proposal, maybe the compassion is encouraged through the collective nature of remembrance. I would hope that seeing the communal live wall and the memories that had been shared would encourage others and make them feel comfortable enough to add their own memories, engaging withe the remembrance process. Whilst this maybe is not purely the architecture encouraging the compassion but rather the activity within it, the act of storytelling and the collection of memories were so integral to and embedded within the architecture that I feel one would not exist without the other. The project named ‘The Photosynthesis of Memory’ is included in my online portfolio – https://www.instagram.com/sophie.james.architecture/ – I would love to hear your thoughts.
Sorry for my delayed response, I felt I needed to give your question the time it deserved. I look forward to hearing from you,
3rd Year Architecture Student