DIRT: Skin of the Earth | Claire Holton

DIRT: Skin of the Earth by Claire Holton | 2011

Claire Holton
[Artist statement]
“A detailed architectural and landscape proposal for a new multi-purpose environment within the site of Mappin Terrace, London Zoo, a range of concrete clad mountains, built in 1914, was a glacial home for Polar Bears. The cavernous interior, like that of a real mountain, holds reservoirs of water that is filtered and circulated into the Aquarium below. Mappin Terrace no longer houses Polar Bears as current thinking turns more towards conservation and climate change. By celebrating an awareness of our environment, the proposal investigates a Microscopic Zoo, using soil as a Biome whilst stimulating an interest in ones perception of dirt. It has been said that the human race knows more about certain distant galaxies than it does about the ground below our feet. Whilst extending the concept of ‘soils’ the proposal delves deeper and explores the areas of ‘Cleansing’ and ‘Classification’.’ Cleansing’ looks at sustainability and humans dependence on water, investigating the aquariums viability for water recycling and harvesting techniques. ‘Classification’ probes at the efforts to put organisms into an order; architecturally the project proposes a Library of soils. Extending the original brief the new exhibit merges the former pleasure garden of London Zoo, with Regents Park to celebrate the existing landscape and to capture a larger audience. Developing an architectural language inspired by strata and radial DNA diagrams, sees the proposal built around a fanning strata of walls, standing, above between and below London Soil. The resulting matrix of contrasting passageways and water ducts invites the visitor to explore further.”