Imagining how the proposal and delivery of public architecture can tie practises of fulfilling work, craft and ritual to resist the impact of creeping precarious labour.
The project investigates how contemporary ideas of work, craft and ritual can shape perceptions of value in the built environment, applied to create an essay film that imagines the delivery of twin public buildings, a town hall and festival hall, as part of an indefinitely prolonged festival of fulfilling work in the depths of Staffordshire.
The town of Rugeley sits among an ex-mining landscape in the foggy, yet bucolic, Trent Valley; and has long been defined by its coal-fired power station which in 2016 was faced with demolition. Like many towns reconciling their industrial pasts, Rugeley is weighed by endemic issues of raised poverty levels, poor employment opportunities, and stale public space. The power station’s imminent destruction was set to mark a major turning point in the town’s history, as the local identity and culture had previously been fostered by nearby major industrial sites. With the power station going, the adjacent Amazon fulfilment centre was in line to pick up the mantle; the town would imminently be shouldering the supporting structure of the modern digital economy, where work is disconnected from its site, immaterial, impermanent and increasingly less human.
Here, the proposition of a community-led, major public building project is explored as an opportunity for fulfilling work to break loose from precarious labour, and to be placed back into the creation of the loci of cultural and spiritual prosperity.