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Ben Allen, James Bae, Jan Buennig, Ricardo Gomes and Daniel Valente at KWY




If the Sun and Moon Should Doubt/They’d immediately go out
William Blake




This proposal will be based around three successive phases of projects: infrastructural / experimental / intervention.
The ethic in which we approached our proposal was this: conversations, dialogues, and exchanges of chats. It is most of all, a narrative. The following texts highlighted in blue were our discussion notes, and gives a personal definition and a peripheral view of how we came to our decisions. We view these, in some ways, as notes towards future curatorial possibilities.


Sutton Scarsdale Hall
KWY approach



The beauty of the Sutton Scardsale Hall ruins lies uniquely in the present stasis it finds itself, as it weathers in irony: a destitute place of some former, middling significance. It speaks as a flume to the past – even, if so, a vaguely provincial one. Architecture has a way of keeping itself pertinent by the advantage of time. If not successful in its own era, given enough years for immediate critics to die, thoughts, manners, and social mores are wont to be seen with a nostalgic light, through the comforting opacity of recollection. History is partly propelled by such allegiances to the romanticism; and romanticism to ruined architecture seems to be under a predominant stewardship of the British spirit. Chaucer spoke of the Romans in Canterbury; Hardy snuffed a number of his characters in old manors and land sites; the Poets wrote of figures that erected monuments to their undying (and long dead) selves.

The aristocratic heritage of Scarsdale Hall falls under the category of such things to be honoured for maintaining partial verticality. In a sense, the ruins are a perfect staging ground for a contemporary discourse for it not being a particularly well-known heritage site. Its history resides in written tracts of passing deeds and changing of estates, though not much more than that. Most buildings that have lasted centuries aren’t necessarily great: in such light, most things that are still standing and not demolished are recipients, in some way, of a lifetime achievement award. Utilizing the Sutton ruins as a venue for artistic programmes will give it a meaningful rebirth.


Kwy proposal


Kwy stages



We see there are two important elements to any proposal for the reinvention of Sutton. First is to maintain the history of the Hall for its structural appearance in its current state, particularly the façade of the manor. It is our preference to keep the design of the Hall essentially en plein air, and in effect, highlight this remarkable attribute to a certain extent. The second is to approach the ruins as a reoccupation of the interior spaces, with a fully detailed programme of actions. Instead of restrained insertions we plan to make a series of more significant interventions following a period of investigation by means of a number of “projects” working with others to understand better how the spaces can be occupied, utilised, and how visitors interact with these approaches. Most of all, the design will be open-ended as to its purpose and its meaning. Not one thing we propose is dictating permanence per se, but are meant to be added to, reduced from, and ultimately collected as an ongoing narrative in the collective history of the Hall, through differing means of cultural engagement and dissemination.

Ben Allen


BA: I also thought about the idea of narrative. As in seeing our use of these structures as something on-going. Continuous re-use. It is also striking that this particular structure is actually a false ruin in some ways. Although it is more than a couple of centuries old is was made into a ruin in a very purposeful way - and then even restored as a ruin. We are continuing this purposeful narrative - by making a series of stories each somehow (possibly indirectly referencing one another). I was thinking and talking with Ricardo of a series of proposals each becoming more concrete and permanent - that could each relate to one of these themes that we are discussing - but together tell a very invented continuation of the storey of the building.


Ben Allen


kwy proposal Daniel Valente



Damiel Valente and Ben Allen about Sutton Scarsdale


State of Nature, revisited


State of Nature, revisited



scale and form of the structures



Floor of the Pavilion



Re-appropriation of redundant structures


Studio visit (Beehive)


Our second intervention envisages an artists in residence programme, between mid Spring and early Autumn each year, inviting artists to work on the grounds of the Hall. We are firm believers in placing the Hall as a place for study and engagement with other artists, but also as place where architects, artists, and curators can potentially participate in the ongoing design of the Hall, in a way a bee relates to its central hive – the organic process of cross-referencing varying ideas will lead to the continued vitality of the ruins. We see the residency as one of hymenopteran activity. This structure will give each resident the option to add their own chapter in the continuing narrative of the Hall: the residency programme is not only an artistic platform but a very real opportunity to undertake, as social theorists like John Searle, would deem, the “construction of social reality” – a socially edifying experience. As part of our proposal, we also would like to implement a two year project in conjunction with journal Paper Monument documenting the residency programme and its creative output, in the possible form of Paper Monument’s stand-alone “pamphlet” series.



artist residency


It is our hope that not only visual artists, but also varying artists –writers, architects, and musicians to name a few– can be candidates for the residency programme. We imagine the residency to be akin to that of fellowship positions at organizations like the Getty Research and Open Society Institutes, where each fellow is accorded two interns to assist in their work-stay.
Resident housing will be designed in the Hall. Into the western spaces of the building, we would like to implement several prefabricated cabins that exist either on stilts or beams. Temporary scaffold stairs and gantries would grant access and connect the dorms through the existing door openings at the first floor level. The cabins (customised with roof lights and windows matching the buildings) would act as live/work spaces and the remaining parts of the building would also be utilized as a work space/gallery for the artists to use.




We also suggest placing temporary banked seating in the central space thus giving the option of turning it into a performance space, a lecture hall, or a general communal area. This further adds to the idea of filling the Hall with structures that promote activity – music, lectures, dramatic staging’s, or a place for communal dinner are some possibilities.
A more ambitious proposal would be to design the cabins as studio spaces only, and the living accommodation for each artist would be a trailer in the car park adjacent to each cabin. A separate stair will connect each artist’s trailer to their assigned studio space. This slightly futuristic/off-kilter arrangement of this set up is purposeful. The visual busyness of artists moving from ruins to studio to shelter is an advertisement, an outward sign, of the creative activity taking place within. We cannot help to view the first residents as but settlers, in the early founding of a small community at Sutton Scarsdale Hall.


Artist trailer park


artist residencies

Sutton Scarsdale trailer park


The living arrangements will be sparse, but with basic comforts. The rawness of the space necessarily will reflect the artistic temperaments of those wishing to gain residency at the Hall. We suggest to keep the residency programme inline with the general rough-hewn appearance of the buildings – artists who will want to come to Sutton Scarsdale Hall will be ones who know exactly what it means to be here. In essence, this idea is a creative rethinking of Friedman’s ideas on infrastructure and social mobility, restricted to the scale and sociological history of the Hall – utopia resides only in the agent’s urge to find such places in the present world around them. In wanting to find the Edenic, we will rely on the handsome dishabille of the Hall to help cipher these empathetic minds towards it.


kwy proposal



Ricardo Gomes and Ben Allen on Sutton Scardsale habitation



residency programme at Sutton Hall




Sutton Scarsdale third phase




Sutton Scarsdale phase 3



Not ideas about the thing. But the thing itself.


Not Ideas About the Thing, But the Thing Itself


Final phase of Sutton Scarsdale project




Pyramidal design



Sutton Scarsdale Hall model



sutton scarsdale pyramidal design




Interior model




The opportunity to reimagine Sutton Scarsdale Hall will not happen over night. With our proposal, we at least hope to give it a clean start by utilizing a temporary roof and define the floorplan, which we believe will allow stability for our other programmes (like the artist residency) to find beginnings.
The unique setting of Sutton dictates so much of what we can do; the history of the place, however parts of it lost and forgotten, is what has managed to help preserve it. However, in the light of our own age, we would be remiss in simply celebrating history for history’s sake. Our design is in its own way a conflation of the past and present, of making what happened then and what we can do now equal partners.

The pyramid form, then, is a cipher that bridges this distance for us, without being indebted to either age. The iconicity of its shape precedes us all. For our purposes, it was also our main narrative device in our proposal, in a crescendo of Borgesian simplicity: a dénouement without a practical dénouement.
This proposal tells a narrative with no fixed ending, a story that itself is modular. Sequences can be altered, changed, modified, reduced. This is the ethic –however rough- we hope to instill in the future livelihood and fruition of Sutton Scarsdale Hall.



Sutton Scarsdale Hall proposal by KWY




About KWY
KWY is a multidisciplinary platform investigating the nature of collaboration within the context of specific
projects. The following people participated in these proposals:

Ben Allen
Born in Brighton, England in 1976 and studied architecture in Brighton graduating in 1996. He studied at the
Mackintosh School of Architecure in Glasgow from 1997 to 1999 and qualified in 2001. He worked as an
architect in London for Fletcher Priest Architects and Jonathan Tuckey Design between 1999 and 2004.
Currently lives in Berlin and works with Olafur Eliasson. Projects undertaken in the past five years have
included the extension of the AroS Museum in Aarhus, the facade of the Icelandic National Concert Hall in
Reykjavik and the C ol our a c tivity h o u s e in Kanazawa

James Bae
Born in Tokyo in 1975 and has lived in the US since 1982. Studied at Yale and Havard between 1993 and
1998 and lived in Marfa from 2004 to 2006. He is contributing editor of Paper Monument, a journal based in
New York. He was recently a visiting fellow in linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He
currently lives in Los Angeles working as a writer and curator.

Jan Buennig
Born in Berlin in 1972. From 1997 studied art at the University of Art and Design Burg Giebichenstein, Halle.
In 2003 received his diploma in Fine Art at the UdK in Berlin. Attended the Meisterschüler of Tony Cragg in
2004. He is represented by Akira Ikeda Gallery and in recent years has exhibited his work in Oslo, Berlin,
New York, and Tokyo. He lives in Berlin.

Ricardo Gomes
Born in Coimbra, Portugal in 1978 and studied architecture in Lisbon and Bucharest between 1995 and 2001.
He lived and worked in Marfa between 2002 and 2004 researching the work of Donald Judd and assisting
artists such as Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Ilya Kabakov and Fred Sandback. Since 2005 he
has worked with Olafur Eliasson on the Serpentine Gallery 2007 pavilion, Parliament of reality, Bard College
and Sun s p a c e f or Hara, Tokyo amongst others. He currently lives in Berlin and Copenhagen.

Daniel Valente
Born is Lisbon in 1976 and studied architecture and urban planning in Lisbon and Milan between 1994 and
2000. From 2000 until 2002 he worked with Atelier Miguel Arruda Architects working on urban design,
architecture and interior architectural commissions. From 2002 he has worked as a municipal urban planner
for the city of Cascais. During this period he has also worked on a number of private commissions including
the design and construction of several houses as well as working as an artist. He lives in Lisbon.