In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Graviton, Glastonbury

Graviton sits at the centre of the HUB (Hot Utopian Bliss) Space of Shangri-La, the so-called ‘totally bizarre and brilliant’ festival within a festival at Glastonbury. 

This year’s vision for the key night-time venue was a ‘retro-futuristic fantasy dystopia, with an ultra-modern and digital-futuristic central square in the round belying a myriad of bizarre nano-venues in a seedy maze of wrongness’.  

By day, the structure is a dark triangulated counterpoint to the crisp white HUB walls from which exhausted punters lounge listening to eclectic new bands.

At night, light and smoke break through cracks in the construction, creating a latent pulsing energy.

Into the early hours, the pyramidal dance platform disappears under a swell in the crowd with only orange wisps of smoke visible between the dancers.

Graviton is named for the hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravity in the framework of quantum field theory.

Unambiguous detection of individual gravitons is impossible with any physically reasonable detector, however certain properties can be deduced through measuring their behaviour en masse as gravitational waves.

“The Shangri-La of yesteryear (2009) was a dystopian vision of a citadel ruled by a corrupt Administration; a regime in its dying days dedicated to enforcing its vision of perfect utopia, but all the while trapped in an unwinnable battle with the rebels of the Badland alleyways.

“At the end of the year 2009, the rebels succeeded in toppling the regime, and the city was opened up for pleasure-givers from all corners of the known universe to flood in and carve out their own corner of this self-proclaimed paradise.

“Those with resources have taken over vast areas in flashy style, whilst others create nano-palaces from pallets and waste. But co-existence never was easy and when resources become dangerously short everyone’s attention must shift from pleasure to survival.”

(Paraphrased from our brief)

As resources grew scarce, and the citizens became preoccupied with preserving their paltry property, latecomers too slow or too cowardly to have exploited the paradise, and those too hedonistic to foresee its decline, were left with nothing to defend. Angry and adolescent, they began to hoard in the outlands; rescuing the dregs of fires and stealing debris from the wealthiest, they hunkered, biding their time.

They were ignored, written-off by their neighbours as mad or as pitiful. Until, when completely forgotten, at the dark core of the Hot Utopian Bliss, they brazenly built their own pseudo-monument to their pleasure ground that never was. Their sense of scale and authority collapsed, they created with false hopes and perspectives, imagined greatness, tramping to no effect.

The city continued without them, around them. They, at the eye of the storm, persisted in forgetting, pretending, and boundlessly hallucinating.