Studio Tom Emerson
According to one of the pioneers of conceptual art, Seth Siegelaub, only textiles go further than art in holding and revealing the meaning of the human condition. Certainly textiles and weaving have been a literal and metaphorical catalyst in architecture. Entire cities have developed around the textiles and entire building types have been invented for the weaving and trading fabrics. Indeed the origin of the flexible open plan framed office building is in the flax mill of the eighteenth century industrial revolution. The influence of textiles on architecture is just as profound in the evolution of the decorative arts from clothes to Semper.
We shall be looking at Forst, a city built on weaving but today threadbare and empty. It was once one of the biggest centers of world textile production but now lies ‘forgotten’ and half abandoned on the German-Polish border. The city and the surrounding landscape is the site of many interwoven histories. Half the city has disappeared, its materials and people living elsewhere, but Forst is still there, neither waiting nor acting, seemingly its only option to remain in a state between Amor Fati and Zweckoptimismus.
We will explore the potential of its empty industrial infrastructure. Working with the cunning of the bricoleur we shall look for small adjustments. Architectural strategies which accept absence and emptiness as a critical alternative to regeneration through fullness.
The Atlas comprises of 50 drawings and 50 photographs and constitutes the starting point for an intervention in Forst. It is inspired by Piranesi’s ‘Antichità Romane’ and Robert Adam’s survey of the Diocletian’s palace and is both record and fiction at once.