At the Royal College of Art Show Two last month, architecture graduate Gemma Douglas presented her conceptual design for a combined Ministry of Defence headquarters and integration centre for citizens arriving in the UK.
Using imagery derived from needlepoint and heraldry, which Douglas feels represent ideas of Britishness, the building is designed for a fictional new state called Albion in the Thames estuary.
Here's an explanation from Douglas:
Less than half the population of Britain consider themselves British (YouGov poll, 2007)
How can the British town hall, the apparent public face of a community, be updated to reflect a society in constant flux, with a tendency for nostalgic perception of a bygone era?
Albion Town Hall is reinvented as a Home Office Department of Britishness and secure immigrant accommodation, to act as the headquarters of a region with displaced populations of soldiers, relocated civil servants and potential new British citizens, and to nurture growth of identity in a new town.
Village greens become secure landscaping, acting as a buffer between industrial and residential areas.
Can architecture help ensure our cultural survival? A British embassy in Britain explores the ambiguity and fluidity of Britishness, as a first port of call for new citizens arriving in the UK, alongside a relocated Ministry of Defence Heaquarters.
Cross stitch, heraldry, and the picturesque appear as reinvented symbols of our national heritage and form a seemingly benign landscape simultaneously nurturing and securing new citizens and a central government department encouraging assimilation and integration.