Congratulations to Ben Warren and Balraj Sehmi who have been awarded the 2022 Bryan Jefferson Prize for Excellence, for their work Isle of Man(kind). The award presented in partnership with the Sheffield School of Architecture, recognises student’s design work of the highest standard and worthy of particular merit.
THE ISLE OF MAN(KIND)
Ben Warren and Balraj Sehmi
The Isle of Man(kind) represents an architectural response to ongoing geo-political and social issues surrounding migration - foregrounded most recently by the UK Government’s Rwanda scandal. A prototype for a new civic typology, the architecture reimagines the process of migration, underpinned by principles of dignity and care.
In an alternative 2022, the Isle of Man revokes its crown dependency as a result of the Brexit referendum, and becomes an independent nation, part of a new union of Celtic nations. Within this speculative context, the project explores national identity and historic patterns of Celtic migration. A nationwide strategy of rapid population growth - known as Operation Enbarr - has been adopted by the Independent Manx Government, in order for the island to reach critical mass, tackle a declining population and sustain the Isle of Man’s future as a nation state.
Taken from the French, l’hotel de ville, the Hotel of the City, the proposal looks towards a humane and celebratory alternative to the immigration removal centres found in the United Kingdom - to integrate new arrivals in a dignified manner, and stay-as-long-as-you-feel ethos. Located within Peel Castle, a 9th Century Viking structure, the proposal sits on a critical axis between the island's past and future.
The architecture has a modern, medieval influence and uses a humble palette of raw materials, designed to wear the marks of many users over time and tell a patchwork of stories of a new Manx generation. The scheme sets a precedent for future self-sufficiency, using locally sourced materials and low-impact construction. The Isle of Man(kind) is a point of transition that offers the opportunity to gain independence and individual resilience, valuing existing cultures, interests and skills as new arrivals begin their new lives within an emerging new nation.