01_What has happened to Royal Mail?
After years of privatising more and more of their services, yet still maintaining the infrastructure for the majority of the final delivery and sorting of mail which incurred much of the costs and made little profit, Royal Mail finally decided to privatise all of its functions and cease to exist as the nation’s much loved postal service.
02_Who is the client?
A charity organisation has been set up by a team of hands-on individuals committed to the Royal Mail name and legacy. They decide, with their twisted view of fate, to utilise the hordes of lost, unclaimed and undelivered objects contained within the sorting offices around London (in particular Mount Pleasant). They will do this by building of a new type of architecture to house these objects as a public event, highlighting the dramatic change of Royal Mail (yet keeping the institution alive). This symbolises the wider transformation itself, and represents the tradition of the institution as well as its new ‘lost object’ identity. These people will be both client and contractor for the project, hiring specialists only when absolutely needed and for consultation or structural advice. It is important to these individuals that the public project be of a ‘do it yourself’ nature, and that it reclaims as much “lost and found” material as possible. This will add to and be in keeping with the project’s (and indeed Royal Mail’s) new identity.
The clients are also keen that the project be of a ‘playful’ nature and be a celebration to the history of Royal Mail, while creating a new ironic use to its once most criticised elements, its lost mail.
03_What has happened to Canary Wharf?
At the forefront of several financial breakdowns Canary Wharf is becoming more and more barren with large companies occupying its omnipotent, ordered architecture declaring bankruptcy. Many of the buildings would be left empty. The area becomes a media spectacle of the changing built environment, it is the perfect place to house the reformed Royal Mail’s lost objects structure. The new architecture will form a symbiotic relationship with the existing tower; 10 Upper Bank Street, and form a more playful use of the highly ordered and controlled building and area. Using the facade as a site, the architecture itself will appear as strange yet beautifully lost and out of place like the objects it houses.
04_What are the pieces, and where are they from?
Inside, the pieces are the lost, undelivered or returned items of mail, unpackaged and displayed. Forming much of the exterior, is a collection of reclaimed or lost objects. Some of these will be the now irrelevant objects of the Royal Mail service. Postal trolleys, disused machinery, parts of the mail rail system currently unused and many other curious objects of Royal Mail will be used, as well as a salvage sweep of unusual things around the Canary Wharf area, in the Canal and immediate Thames area; parts of old boats and delivery crates can also be found in the area. All of these objects will be reborn into a ‘bricolage’ of elements, these will be assembled together as in a piece by the artist Sarah Sze to form a relationship with overall form when viewed from a distance and individual objects when examined more closely and from within.
This collection and assemblage of found material will form a series of architectural ‘Cabinets’, storing, displaying and eventually providing room for selling everyday curiosities from the different boroughs around London.
05_What is the role of the architect?
The architect’s role is to be the designer of an architectural framework. Some of this is enclosed to store and display the Lost Mail itself. Some is to house, hang and suspend the salvaged objects and connect with the rest of the internal links to the existing facilities such as lifts and stairs,
The architect then takes on the role of curator, in the placement of these reclaimed objects within this framework. This forms a new more ‘playful’ and dynamic facade which could infiltrate parts of the interior spaces with its arrangement of curious objects.