Untouchable Rurality?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The rural can be defined in many ways, and almost as a studied state of mind where physical location might be immaterial. Popular conceptions of the rural remain very much as the urban ‘other’. Whilst the urban is the realm of human endeavour, the rural often labours under the expectation of presenting itself as unspoilt and unsullied. Just as our sense of ‘the north’ remains always out of our grasp and over the horizon, so the promise of the rural to sustain us never quite materialises.

This paper asks the question how we can intervene and build in landscapes where both through a sense of the sublime and also the base realities of regulation stifle change and development. How we build in what are seen as rural locations often misfire as timid and derivative, devoid of the very meaning their vernacular style would like to suggest. As a response, a series of contemporary rural buildings are used to describe how the landscape sublime can be engaged. Rather than dwelling on questions of style, rural design is imagined as a series of narrative techniques, as a means to establish frameworks for development. Whilst these are rooted in the land, they question the supremacy of the landscape image as an arbiter of change.

The building stories contained in the paper address in turn the issues of landscape and community. In this, a compact between often idealised constructions of nature and the way our buildings change the social and cultural frameworks around them. It is hoped these practices might help disengage what we think of as rural from our controlling preconceptions of the countryside.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventReimagining Rurality - University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Feb 201528 Feb 2015


ConferenceReimagining Rurality
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Rural
  • Design
  • narrative
  • Sustainability


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