The Bartlett School of Architecture


Island Calendar

Yunchen Lei

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Instead of looking forward to a future utopia, this art sets up functioning ‘microtopias’ in the present.

Claire Bishop, ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’, October, 110, (Fall 2004), p. 54.

Island Calendar is located in East London, on Three Mills Island. This semi-natural island is surrounded by two different rivers, the River Lea and Bow Creek: one a busy navigation route with many boats moored all year round, the other a tidal river. There is no street illumination on this island, which makes it beautiful, but potentially an unfriendly place when darkness falls.

The key concern of my project is to try to find out if it is possible to discover a new approach to the use the wasteland in urban areas in the West, but to do so in an ‘Oriental way’.

Island Calendar aims to reveal special moments to highlight the poetry of the daily lives experienced by those that live, work and pass through the site. The Chinese calendar is drawn upon as a guideline for organising special events composed of light to take place at particular moments in the site in order to build temporary communities.

By using lanterns and fireworks to hold small celebrations on the site and to complete the project together with passers-by and local residents, Island Calendar builds microtopias comprising light, site and people.