Anna Higgisson

The Spike Island Pilgrimage

My project is based on Spike Island in Cork Harbour: the former site of a monastery, army barracks, prison and now one of Europe’s leading tourist attractions. Within the theme ‘Of Memory’, I studied the island by applying Michel Foucault’s principles of Heterotopia to the site, concluding that Spike Island has always been serving Ireland and its societal needs. My project offered a new approach to Spike, in all senses of the word, which revealed all it had to offer beyond the walls of the dominant fort. It is a journey of discovery, a pilgrimage, around the island. The current pier accommodates arrivals of tourists in bulk, in direct contrast to this I created a new point of arrival on the opposite shore of the island. A long, narrow, wooden structure extending out into the sea- it encourages a solo approach thus commencing the pilgrim’s journey. Using the divisions of bedrock underneath Spike as guidelines to divide the island into four distinct quadrants, I developed a structure for each which acted as focal points on the pilgrim’s journey around the island. Each structure related to one of Semper’s Four Elements of Architecture: The Mound, The Roof, The Hearth and Enclosure, and the functions of: Rest, Eat, Wash and Contemplate align with those of a traditional pilgrimage. Referencing the theme ‘Of Memory’, I brought together the four individual spaces of the pilgrimage, stacking them on top of one another to create The Memory Tower, a conceptual representation of the pilgrimage, as a whole, in the user’s memory.