Has Britain lost its moral compass?
Prompted by 2011’s riots and protests against government cuts and wealth without responsibility, Camp Morality is a playful but considered response to both contemporary society’s lack of institutional moral guidance and the media outcry for justice on all sides. The project took the form of an illustrated storybook titled 'Back To Morality – An Architectural Fable For Our Modern Times'. The book reaffirms the resonance of this age-old narrative and translates it into an architectural approach.
Recent acts of civil unrest highlighted a contemporary culture of greed and civic disengagement that stretches all the way from our streets and estates right up into our banks, corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. But the institutions of the past no longer provide the moral guidance required for this modern age. In our post-modern narcissistic culture, devoid of any real moral framework, how else might we nurture a moral reformation?
In a fit of Victorian-style philanthropy, some successful business people pledge to use their wealth for good, and provide funds for a series of ‘moral rehabilitation’ centres around the country. Sited on (morally) high grounds in secluded city locations, the centres are open to anyone lacking in moral values and showing signs of civic disengagement.
Instead of an institutional complex, the design references allegorical gardens of the past and places a series of follies within a park, laid out to emulate the points of a metaphorical moral compass. As well as housing ‘therapy’ sessions, the various follies are symbolic and suggestive representations of the characters in medieval morality plays: Knowledge, Justice, Strength, Reciprocity and the main protagonist, Mankind.
Welcome to Camp Morality...
Published in RIBA Journal, 2013