The Migration Of Mel And Judith

  • Architect Thomas Hillier has created a fantastic miniature world based on the story of Melvin and Judith, a fictional couple from Croydon, England. Mel and Judith, who are recently retired, have decided to give up on their life in London’s third City and travel Europe with their caravan. During their search for a good place and a touch of hot weather they miss the home comforts of England. Especially white bread which seems hard, if not impossible, to get abroad. However, after a while they slowly adapt and customize their caravan-house to feel a little more like home.

    Hillier used bread, seeds, paper and fake grass to build the model caravan. He makes use of a range of techniques to tell his story including stitching, baking and collage. According to the story, the caravan has its own microclimate control system, including a sprinkler system and an interior snow machine. The collage-like atmosphere of Mel and Judith’s story somehow reminds me of the dreamy world of Stéphane Miroux in Michel Gondry’s movie La Science des Rêves (The Science of Sleep).

    “‘The Migration of Mel and Judith’ was my first real exploration into using narrative as the vehicle for generating and scrutinising my architectural ideas. It was also where I began using craft-based techniques and 2/3-dimensional assemblage to illustrate the design process.”

    The project is broken into two geographical episodes. The first chapter is about their journey trough Europe, while in the second part Mel and Judith have decided to settle down to a new life in Luxor, Egypt. They now live on a small, uninhabited island situated on the River Nile, where Mel brews beer in his bathtub-brewery whilst Judith bakes rose-bread in the bread-garden. Their island comes alive during the holiday season creating an English retreat in the middle of Luxor, a retreat that lures in English tourists with the opportunity to be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of home. The smell of roses and freshly baked bread drift through the air whilst the temptation to drink beer (which is illegal in Luxor) is impossible to resist. This part of the story unfolds internally and externally on a kitsch seventies-style lampshade, similar to that owned by Mel and Judith. It represents their new life and how their interactions affect the Nile and beyond.

    “This is what 99% of architecture is missing: playfulness”, a commenter on Dezeen states, and I totally agree. Click here to view photos of chapter 1 of Mel and Judith’s story (including the caravan), click here to view photos of chapter 2 (the lampshade). Huge recommendation, check it out.