The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Tutor and Alumnus Win Crossroads X Prize at Seoul Biennale 2021

3 December 2021

Bartlett Director of Technology, Oliver Wilton, along with collaborators Matthew Barnett Howland and Andrew Lawrence, were awarded the prize for their project ‘Memorial to the Industrial Revolution’.

Image: Memorial to the Industrial Revolution by Oliver Wilton, Matthew Barnett Howland and Andrew Lawrence

The Crossroads X Prize is the first prize at the Thematic Exhibition of Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2021. 

The prize was shared among 14 winning submissions to the Biennale, which took place from 16 September to 31 October and was curated by Dominique Perrault. This year’s Biennale was titled “Architecture × Infrastructure”, and invited participants to question the apparent separation of these two territories, proposing their fusion as a way to produce resilient, responsible, aesthetic, and sustainable responses to today’s urban challenges.

Bartlett lecturer Oliver Wilton, Bartlett alumnus Matthew Barnett Howland (CSK Architects), and Andrew Lawrence (Arup) collaborated on their submission, ‘Memorial to the Industrial Revolution’, which examines the legacy of the Industrial Revolution and demands a more progressive future. 

The temporary monument is a memorial to a period of recent history that witnessed enormous technological progress and industrial development, and yet at the same time has ended in an ecological crisis of global proportions. ‘Memorial to the Industrial Revolution’ commemorates the incredible achievements of the late modern era but also declares the necessity to mark the death of the ‘late modern period’, and its environmentally destructive linear modes of production, consumption and inhabitation.

The memorial is designed with a resource life cycle that challenges the ‘take-make-waste’ extractive industrial model that was typical of the period it commemorates. The installation demonstrates the same ‘Form Follows Life Cycle’ approach used in Cork House, the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize-winning and Stirling Prize-shortlisted project by the same team. Like that project, the monument is made of expanded cork blocks, a pure plant-based material that originates in and supports a biodiverse landscape. Assembled without mortar or glue using interlocking timber and metal components, it can be dismantled at the end of the Biennale, when the blocks can be reconfigured to create another building. At the end of its life cycle, when it drops out of the ‘technical sphere’, the cork they can be returned directly to the ‘biological sphere’ to decompose and generate new growth.

As part of the Biennale, Matthew and Oliver also presented a talk on YouTube, explaining the concept and delivery of the monument - the talk can be found here: YouTube

More information

Image: Memorial to the Industrial Revolution by Oliver Wilton, Matthew Barnett Howland and Andrew Lawrence