[Ex]isle: Towards an Absurb Architecture

A deliberate encounter with strangeness

Our thesis begins and ends with an encounter of strangeness. This thesis attempts to synthesise the realisation of absurdity (and its resultant feeling of nausea) both architecturally and spatially, in order to challenge the limits of design as a generator of meaning and purpose.

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Within the context of contemporary Ireland, the Aran Islands are identified as facing issues and pressures that are both typical and atypical of islands along the western edge of Ireland. While both the national government and wider European government have attempted to solve these problems, they are limited to the frameworks set out by their respective bureaucratic systems. This results in a reduction of problems to one solely of the material and economy. Instead, this thesis has opted for a far more radical approach; one that engages with this problem through the creation of a new island mythos.

Our thesis situates itself on the Aran Islands, located west of County Galway in Ireland. The project consists of five main elements; The [A]wake house, The Absurd Manifestor, The Lab[oratory], The Th[eat]re, and The Hortus Absurdum Memorial Garden and proposes a community, known as [Ex]Isles, which exists to both create and manifest the absurd through artistic endeavours and the maintenance of landscape, as well as to offer crematorium and burial services for the dead. The [Ex]Isle identity is one distilled from the writings and biographies of the Absurdist theorists and writers as well as Irish cultural histories surrounding death and burial. It is an identity which offers the individual a higher meaning in both life and death through the embodiment of the Absurd hero; an individual who ceaselessly rebels against the Absurd condition. The resulting thesis programmatics intertwine therefore to both create meaning for the individual or community building the architecture while simultaneously manifesting the absurdity which drives us to search for a greater purpose. Our approach posits that it is under this absurd condition, in which the limits of our reason are challenged, that it becomes clear a myth based approach to design is necessary. The project aims to deal with the reintroduction of values into architecture that are not limited to solely the economical or aesthetic. It is a propositional intervention into a territory which seeks to deal with the societal and economic problems faced by territory through the interweaving of a new cultural mythos and narrative. These architectural elements are experimental prototypes which aim to create a system of design that better reflects a wider range of the lived experience. It is a design solution that acts primarily through narrative and myth rather than rationalist logic.