Artist Ilona Sagar's new film Deep Structure explores the links between architecture, health and community wellbeing through the lens of Sheffield’s Park Hill estate. Troubling the links between buildings, bodies and post-industrial landscapes, the film draws parallels between the unique sprawling structure of the building and the scientifically measured body. Designed in 1961, the estate is one of the UK’s most radical and significant post-war housing projects and a testimonial to an era that revolutionised social and residential housing.
Filmed at Hope Cement Works in the Peak District, The Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Sheffield and the Park Hill estate, Deep Structure focuses on material structures, considering the ways in which they are measured and analysed. Hope Cement Works, which opened in 1929 and is now the largest material factory in the UK, becomes a complex monolithic space within the film, representing something in-between industrialised networks and natural systems. Entangling these connections, Deep Structure thinks about the factory and the estate as living bodies – machines for health, good and bad – considering the ways bodies and buildings are mapped, archived and translated into data.
Developed in collaboration with Human Computer Interaction Design at City University, London, The Space Syntax Laboratory at The Bartlett, and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield, Deep Structure uses scanning, spatial analysis techniques and archival data sets on Park Hill to unpick the ways in which buildings and bodies are surveilled, both through official-bureaucratic structures and shared social experiences. Interrogating the contested civic ambitions of architecture, Deep Structure is a darkly speculative work that examines our uneasy and increasingly precarious relationship to public welfare, housing and wellbeing.
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