A Love Letter to the Lighthouse in the Expanded Field

Friday 31 January 2020
Architectural Association,
36 Bedford Square,
London, WC1B 3ES
6.30pm – 8.30pm

The lighthouse is a typology in decline. As advances in navigational and maritime technology create safer and more reliable tools, the lighthouse will lose its relevance. This however is by no means the end of the lighthouse. The lighthouse has in its history been more than merely practical. The lighthouse persists throughout in our collective imaginations.


Initially used as port gate markers, the lighthouse was first and foremost a beacon of welcome. This transitioned into a beacon of warning as its function shifted to a marker of dangerous rock formations in the coastal and offshore seascapes.


As the lighthouse evolves beyond this, there is an opportunity for the typology to embrace an extra-functional purpose. Extrapolating from the romantic obsession that surrounds the lighthouse, I am proposing the lighthouse is now a beacon for care.


Care is core to our existence. Caring for and being cared for is the basis of our interactions with not just each other but also our environment, the objects around us, and the traditions we observe. Overwhelmed by the rate of development and changes in our worldviews, care becomes less and less focused, as there seems to be a surfeit of things to care for and about. This leaves us in a state of Sorge, a state of deep concern with no clear target. This state of care renders us feeling frustrated, powerless and ultimately paralyzed.


The lighthouse offers us a way to focus this emotion. A mid-point between the intimidating expanse of the landscape which can be understood to be our changing world. The lighthouse is more than a tool. It is a mediator between us the viewers and the landscape we inhabit. No longer tied to the maritime tradition by way of navigational function, the lighthouse is freed. The lighthouse as a beacon of care serves equally well in the expanded field as it does by the coast.



You are invited to the Mark Fisher Scholarship Event:

<<A Love Letter to the Lighthouse in the Expanded Field>> 

The event and performance is hosted by Sean Gwee and friends.

Sean Gwee is a fifth year student at the AA (Diploma Unit 15) and the third recipient of the Mark Fisher Scholarship. Sean is interested in structures, hosting, pots, performance and process. He works informally, improvisationally but always rigorously with friends and whoever shows up.


The Mark Fisher Scholarship was established in memory of the late Mark Fisher (1947–2013), AA graduate and teacher, and initiated by James Fairorth and Tait Towers, who worked closely with Fisher on ground-breaking music performance events around the world. Combining his skill as an architect and designer with a passion for rock and roll, Fisher pioneered the modern stadium performance and with it reimagined what we understand as the architectural spectacle.