work by matilda swift-barnard

Graduates 2021: Interior Architecture: Matilda Swift-Barnard

“My final project is called ‘Extinction Rebellion HQ & Clandestine Network of Tunnels for Protests’. Sustainability is the key theme. The narrative is told through an unlikely partnership between two characters: Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, a global environmental movement, and Ken Quantick, a Brighton-based bin man.”

Hi Matilda – please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

“My final project is called ‘Extinction Rebellion HQ & Clandestine Network of Tunnels for Protests’. Sustainability is the key theme. The narrative is told through an unlikely partnership between two characters: Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, a global environmental movement, and Ken Quantick, a Brighton-based bin man.

“Gail has a great love for birds and has been deeply saddened by the massive decline in bird populations in the UK over the last 70 years. Ken made the press when he turned whistle-blower on his employer, Veolia, who are responsible for Brighton’s recycling. They were instructing him to take 8 tonnes of recycling to the incinerator in Newhaven every day. This goes against his principles, and he decides to salvage some of the recycling before it goes to the incinerator. He takes it home where he recycles it himself into his own homemade plastic laced bricks.

“Having seen the press coverage of Ken’s whistleblowing, Gail recruits Ken to create a network of protest points around Brighton, disguised as bird baths, and connected to the Extinction Rebellion HQ via a series of tunnels. The HQ is disguised as two normal houses, but underground there is an arch vaulted basement workshop for making the plastic bricks to build the bird baths. Whilst it was being built, the void that is the bird bath skylight was used to lower the machines into the space, and now it acts as a light shaft, as well as being a part of the bird nature corridors created by these bird baths.

“Ken brings home plastic from work, deposits it down a shoot into a long, linear, subterranean space, taking it directly to the plastic shredder underground. The excavated material from digging the tunnels is manually crushed so that the pieces are fine enough to be added to a brick mixture. The plastic and the excavated material are mixed in washing machines, then set into brick moulds. These moulds are then taken via conveyer-belt across to the kiln where they are fired before being taken to their bird bath location via tunnels and built on location.”

How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

“I have really enjoyed my three years in Brighton and the interior architecture course. I loved the practical side of the course and working in the workshop. The technicians were always on hand to help you problem-solve. The tutors have been really inspirational and encouraging. It is just such a shame that the pandemic forced us into having online learning for the second half of my time at Brighton.”

How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Interior Architecture?

“I chose interior architecture after doing an art foundation course at Ravensbourne University in London. In the first few months of being there I got to try all different types of design courses and I choose to pursue 3D design. It was model making that made me want to continue with it, this included product design and architecture/interiors.”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I plan on doing more research and exploration into materials and sustainability. I am going to make contact with designers whose work I admire in the hope of potentially working with them. I am looking for exciting projects and career opportunities.”

Contact Matilda at matildaswift@hotmail.com

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