"...a dodo in place of the duck, as a symbol of lost artefacts and a folly to folly."

Birds of Britain


"Manchester needs something like this. It may, however, frighten small children..."
- Mark Dion

The last remaining stuffed dodo was burned in 1755. It was part of the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford; it looked mangy and had started to smell and was thrown on a fire during a spring clean. Only the head and one leg remain. After its destruction, people began to doubt the former existence of the dodo; it attained mythical status on a par with the unicorn and phoenix. Very little is now known about the dodo, museum replicas are based on scant evidence, and undoubtedly portray the bird as fatter and uglier than it actually was. They are normally made of chicken wire covered with chicken and ostrich feathers.

For this important new cultural institution we propose to use the architecture as a symbol, and produce an iconic building. The rise of Modernism accompanied the decline of popular symbols in architecture. However, popular iconography has battled against abstraction throughout the history of 20th century art. In the seminal Architectural text 'Learning from Las Vegas', Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown consider this debate as Duck vs. Decorated Shed.

Here we propose a dodo in place of the duck, as a symbol of lost artefacts and a folly to folly.

The head and leg are scaled replicas from the existing remnants; all missing elements are modern approximations. The body is a glazed geodesic dome: as well as being structurally efficient it is also reminiscent of the chicken wire used to make model dodos. The dodo faces eastwards as if greeting a new dawn. Views down Brazil Street are framed through the legs. An exciting new plaza is created at street level adjacent to the canal, landscaping and benches will encourage expansion of the vibrant Canal Street café culture onto this area. A contemporary construction looks forwards and backwards, a memorial to lost species.

Co-recipients of the
Charles Dobsworth Award for Architectural Design