A Gift For Portland – Brighton University

Catrione Cheyne – Architecture Course Leader, University of Brighton. - ‘A Gift for Portland’ 2013

We have created an interactive map of the projects completed by students from the University Of Brighton, Faculty Of Architecture.

Please hover over the points on the map to learn more!


Project Description & Aims

University of Brighton Architecture students spent 6 months working on Portland alongside the Portland Sculpture Quarry Trust, developing their individual design ideas for the regeneration of the Portland quarries and surrounding community.Their first project was to make a gift to take to Portland. This was an early investigative tool in response to the stories, memories, myths and folklore that the students’ uncovered when researching the fascinating history of the island. The gift could be made for a person or a place and was taken with us on our week long field trip to Portland to act as a conversation piece, an ice- breaker, a probe with the place and people of Portland. These gifts were displayed at the Natural Stone Show 2013, London alongside the sculptures from stone carving courses from the PSQT.

From their stay on Portland the students developed architectural proposals to find fresh uses for the redundant quarries to house new industries and businesses. Their ideas came from conversations with the islanders, uncovering lost skills of Portland such as button making, lobster fishing, gooseberry farming and boat building (Dorset Lerrets) but also understanding better the current everyday uses of the island such as a dive centre, a museum of quarrying and an extension of Portland young offenders institution, amongst others.


The architecture itself developed innovative architectural structures, forms and materials, including Portland stone itself, but also the waste from the industry. One student developed ways that the waste plastic sheeting wrapped around the stone could be knitted to make a waterproof architectural skin. Another looked at building structures that appropriated the timber technology from the Lerrets and another developed a system that the fishermen could collect plastic waste from the English Channel and then break it down and reform it to make a new plastic based composite material for construction. Interesting to PSQT were the students that looked at how Portland Stone could be reused both as large load bearing blocks, but also made as thin as a leaf so that light could perforate through, and even how to use the dust waste or slurry as a rammed wall technology.

Each project acts as a place of exchange – between local and visitor, old and new manufacture, myths and facts, sea and rock, the natural and the man-made. The proposals have become layered sections referencing both the geological make up and rich cultural history of the island.


The final projects, all 29 of them, were shown on June 20th in Portland at the opening of PSQT’s new workspace.


An interview with staff and students of architecture at the University of Brighton will be provided shortly, about their research and outcomes to the project.


Further Reading

Further information can be found online at University Of Brighton – Architecture Faculty Website

This project blog tumblr can be found here

Project Timeline



October 2012 - Project Started


January Visit 2013 - Research and Development Started at the Stone|Work|Space & "Gifts for Portland" given.


June 2013 - Opening of Drill Hall & Stone|Work|Space exhibition featuring "Gift For Portland" work


News & Publications

Kirsty McMullan – RIBA President’s Medals Student Awards 2013

A book has been published of this project.