WAKEFORD HALL: HONOURABLE MENTION – 1 Term, 2 Years, 56 Years – Three Experiments for Hooke ParkProfile

by John Ng, AADipl2011 & AA First Year Studio Master

30 April 2016
Hooke Park, Dorset


John Ng, First Year Unit Master at the AA and founder of London-based architecture practice Elsewhere explains more about being awarded an Honourable Mention for his Wakeford Hall Competition entry.


For the new Wakeford Hall, the project puts forward three studio briefs, or rather, three ‘Experiments in Time’ for the students and tutors. They will be built as three separate buildings at different times and speeds.




Experiment 1

What if the building is an assembly of material tests, rebuilt anew each year?


Toilets. Duration: 1 Academic Term

Experiment 1: Animation

Experiment 1: Animation

The toilets will be brainstormed. There is a permanent concrete floor with the basic toilet units and basins, no walls. Students will work in groups of 3 when they start Design and Make to brainstorm multiple ways to work with wood as a material. Tutors will give a defined technical constraint each year to work against. The panel shows 22 possible variations of material assemblies. It will be burnt down spectacularly on graduation day. And next year, we will start again.


These intense assemblies generate initial ideas for the longer studio project.


Can you use wood as foam, for example?




Experiment 2: Animation



Experiment 2

What if the landscape is the library and the library is a model of the landscape?


Library. Duration:2 Years


The Forest is a library of projects. It is overlaid with a grid that acts as an index and marker for existing and future projects in Hooke Park. The building of the library itself is a 1:200 model of the entire forest, where the floor is a scaled topographical model of the estate; a model large enough to accommodate rooms and shelves for books.


A part of a tree from each project’s location is placed as a column on the corresponding node of the model’s grid. In a way, the building becomes a small diorama of information.


How would you model the ever-changing time-based dynamism of Hooke Park?



Experiment 3

Experiment 3

What if the lecture hall is a growing landscape?

Lecture Hall. Duration: 56 Years

The lecture hall is a giant topiary. It is a growing buffer embedded within one of the “green fingers” identified in the masterplan between the workshop and residential area. It is surrounded in a garden used for experimenting with projects that grow, rather than projects which cut down plants. It grows ever so slowly over a guiding structure. It will be completed in 2072, the 70th anniversary of AA in Hooke Park. There is a small fireplace inside. It may not be very warm, so it is a good idea not to give very long lectures.

Experiment 3: Animation

Experiment 3: Animation

Can you grow a building without cutting anything down?


The proposed mode of transport to Wakeford Hall



Alvar Aalto built a set of experimental houses on the island of Muuratsalo. In order to get to the island, one has to row a small boat, which Aalto has named NEMO PROPHETA IN PATRIA:


“No-one is a prophet in their own land” – quoted from the Bible


This was added during a time when Aalto’s experiment received much criticism, but he continued regardless.


So in order to get to Wakeford Hall, this project proposes a bright yellow Chevrolet Silverado SS with these words enflamed on the back:





“I don’t know where I m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring” – David Bowie




I was listening to ‘Black Star’ on a loop while working on this project late at night and it was submitted two days before the unexpected death of David Bowie. I would like to think that, somehow, this project channelled some of his energy.


More than being awarded the design commendation, it has been humbling to receive the many kind words both in person and online, especially the essay on Black Square which you can read in a link below. There is also an incredible sense of pride in one of the winners, Nathalie Ow, who was our student some years ago and deservedly recognised in this competition.

Hooke Park Site Plan

Hooke Park Site Plan


For more information:

Other works by Elsewhere

Essay on the work of Elsewhere