The Otherness of Time

Isaac Liew

Intro Image
Conceptual explorations of temporal and spatial dislocation

The architectural proposition of this project reflects on qualities of temporal otherness or temporal dislocation. In other words, expressions of temporal disconnection in moments where the past leaks into the present or when the present intrudes on the future: the uncanny, nostalgia, memory, regret, speculation and so on. T.S. Eliot’s 'Burnt Norton', a modernist poem in which intimate memories of life expose the realities of time, is the lens through which such temporal qualities are explored.

This thesis seeks to portray the concepts within 'Burnt Norton' as architectural representations of overlap. Ideas such as the uncanny and nostalgia become modes of thinking to interrogate 'Burnt Norton' throughout the shifting locales of the poem. In this way, the present acts as a platform for which the patina of time can be observed as it unfolds in both directions.

For this thesis, it is the notion of time and its effect on space that is the most critical aspect to investigate, not the recreation of a perfect past or symbolic imitations of the future. The project is positioned to explore the capacity for architectural space to portray memory and experience through drawing, photography and film. To enable what Brett Steele believed to be, “the recovery of architecture’s former capacity as a genuine site of (and repository for) cultural memory, identity, and continuity.”1

Qualities of otherness expressed through temporal and spatial dislocations are used to create a tripartite proposition based on Eliot’s 'Burnt Norton'. Sections I, II, and V of the poem are combined to portray the both the ‘Garden of Memory’ and the ‘Garden of Regret’, located at the original Burnt Norton house. Sections III and IV proposes a Cenotaph-Train Station for Eliot within London City. This thesis offers these interpretations of memory as expressions of dislocation, communicating the otherness evident within the relationship that architecture holds with time.

Brett Steele, 'Architecture as Light and the Architect as Auteur', in 'Cinematic Architecture', ed. Pascal Schöning, Julian Löffler, and Rubens Azevedo (London: AA Publications, 2009), 4.

Garden Pool
Garden Arb
Garden Ent
Garden Site
1 Entrance
2 Stairs
3 Train Platform
4 Entrance 2Jpg
5 Elevator
6 Grave
Ruin Entrance
Ruin Pool
Ruin Arbour