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Raumlaborberlin is a group of architects who combine experimental and participatory working methods with striking designs. They subvert our expectations of what architecture should do and be.  

Silly Scope, Funny Foot Age and SPAM! The John Cleese Fanzine

Location: Silly Scope was first sited at Weston-super-Mare Railway Station, accompanied with Funny Foot Age and SPAM! For forthcoming locations of Silly Scope please phone Situations on 0117 930 4282. Funny Foot Age and SPAM! are also available to view on the website (see links below).

In contrast to a conventional approach to regeneration, raumlaborberlin sought out the overlooked spaces of Weston-super-Mare, drawn to Weston Market by what they called its very ‘British’ character and by the sense of timelessness once inside. The market offered a potential live set, or source of props and objects, through which to explore the idea of British humour, so closely identified with seaside towns. Raumlaborberlin developed Silly Scope, a temporary structure combining some of the features of a kaleidoscope, a pavilion and an absurd, out of place object, along with the associated project The John Cleese Academy workshops from which SPAM! The John Cleese Fanzine and Funny Foot Age, were produced in collaboration with a group of young people. For the launch of Wonders of Weston SPAM! and Funny Foot Age were on display in Weston-super-Mare Train Station waiting room and can now be viewed digitally below or you can request a physical copy by contacting Situations. 

Silly Scope is a temporary structure which manifests the Pythonesque mode of seeing the world askew. Resembling a collapsed geodesic dome, the interior surfaces of this structure are reflective creating an effect similar to a mirrored funhouse or hall of mirrors. The structure is modular and has the potential to be moved and seen in different configurations in the future. Crucially Silly Scope is likely to appear where least expected and has been developed to encourage active participation by its users.

Weston Market provided the site in which raumlaborberlin worked with local young people and market stall holders filming sketches based on the life and humour of John Cleese and Monty Python. In the same manner in which Monty Python’s Flying Circus combined animation, performative interruption, anarchic or unexplained characters, raumlaborberlin and the workshop participants worked together over ten days to play out a series of ideas. They produced graphic elements which transformed the bare walls of the market stalls and worked together to produce sculptural objects or props from scenes in Fawlty Towers and Monty Python sketches such as the Moosehead in the hotel lobby, a rat in a biscuit tin and, of course, a dead parrot. The resulting films, Funny Foot Age, recreate some of the most famous Python sketches and suggest a link between the everyday life of Weston and Cleese’s humour; perhaps it was Cleese’s childhood observations of this town that formed the basis for some of the most famous scenes in British comedy. Like the video, SPAM! mixes fact and fiction, telling the story of the workshops in Weston Market, and making proposals for a new approach to the regeneration of Weston.

The group acted out and remade versions of Monty Python sketches, exploring what aspects of everyday Weston might have influenced John Cleese’s writing in later years, producing a kind of ‘sweded’ Python and Fawlty Towers through the lens of Weston.1

Raumlaborberlin’s response to the redevelopment of Weston is an astute riposte to the sometimes formulaic style of redevelopment. The artists have developed a distinctive graphic identity featuring the iconic pose adopted by John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. The site which inspired this work, Dolphin Square and Weston Market was built as one part of a much larger regeneration scheme in the 1960s and as raumlaborberlin’s project developed, the site is again about to enter a time of change and redevelopment. In this context, the imagery and graphics in raumlaborberlin’s work could be thought of as a suggested rebranding for a future Dolphin Square.

 

Read the Weston Mercury's press coverage of raumlaborberlin's workshops with young people in Weston-super-Mare that took place in August 2010: click here »

 

1Sweded is a term used for low-fi, amateur remakes of films popularised through the film Be Kind Rewind.

 

SPAM! Fanzine

SPAM FANZINE SLIDESHOW

SPAM! is a 24-page booklet. To obtain a free copy whilst stocks last, contact Situations at info@wondersofweston.org or call 0117 930 4282. We regret that this booklet is not available in other formats. View the booklet here »

raumlaborberlin

Raumlaborberlin formed in Germany, 1999. The group consists of eight architects and in Weston-super-Mare, Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius and Axel Timm developed the project. They also involved theatre director Sabine Zahn, stage and set designer Nicole Timm, filmmaker Florian Riegel and graphic designer Gonzague Lacombe. Raumlaborberlin’s recent projects include the generator, Venice Architecture Biennial, Italy (2010), Futures Exchange, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (2010), Rosy (the ballerina) for UP Projects, London (2010), Spacebuster, Storefront for Art & Architecture, New York, USA (2009), and the Promising Land, Liverpool Biennial (2008).

www.raumlabor-berlin.de

 

The raumlaborberlin team for Wonders of Weston were:

Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius, Lukas Fink, Axel Timm, Nicole Timm, Sabine Zahn with Florian Riegel and graphic designer Gonzague Lacombe.

With thanks to:

Cory Burr
Lee Edworthy, First Great Western
Peter Laidler, Structural Engineer

Workshops:

Katy Hall, Intern
Amy Higgins, Intern
Jenny Rintoul, Workshop co-ordinator
Nik Slade, Workshop co-ordinator

Participants:

Dina Bagley
Ben Broomhall
Toby Capel
Kyle Embury
Sam Lambert
Ellie-May Long
Imi MatthewsJacob Matthews
Natalie Ross
Ella Sayce
Liam Smith-Jones