The Bartlett School of Architecture


British Exploratory Land Archive (BELA)

28 February 2013

Smout Allen Venice at RIBA

Bartlett Lecturers Mark Smout and Laura Allen in collaboration with Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG have launched a new project – the ‘British Exploratory Land Archive (BELA)’ – which is now on exhibition at the RIBA having returned from the Venice Architecture Biennale

The trio are one of ten architectural teams picked for the ‘Venice Takeaway’ programme which exhibited at the British Pavilion throughout the Biennale. The exhibition presents the work of ten “explorers” that have travelled the world to seek imaginative responses to universal issues in architecture.

BELA is directly inspired by the Los Angeles-based Centre for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI). "The British Exploratory Land Archive: Proposal and Prototype, is the first outing of a project intended to catalogue and interrogate the British Landscape," says Laura Allen of Smout Allen.

It aims to unite the efforts of existing bodies from large scale institutions to local trusts and hobby groups, in a project of national landscape taxonomy. It will combine catalogues created by these distinct organisations into one omnivorous, searchable archive of human-altered landscapes in Britain.

The project will also contribute to the archive with the design and fabrication of prototypical survey instruments and experimental site-identification beacons used for marking, measuring, describing and emphasising landscape sites. These tools are both semi-scientific and speculative, portable and permanently anchored.

See a video of BELA by Smout Allen

See a video of the British Pavilion, Venice Takeaway by Crane TV