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The Sweet Proposal;

A Cautionary Tale Of The corporate City 

Elliott Bishop

The Bartlett School Of Architecture, London, UK.

The Sweet Proposal, a Cautionary Tale of the Corporate City. Puts forth Nestlé’s New York, a satirical city scaled confectionary factory. As a critique of the privatisation of cities around the world which are taking place in such examples as Sandy Spring’s, Silicon Valley in the USA and the City of Gurgaon in India to name a few.

Where the largest corporate infrastructures control our, employment, governance, housing and nutrition. The project converts the happiest city in Britain, York into a dystopian corporate utopia veiled in a facade of sweetness.

Devoted to the production of confection to be exported to Europe, as a new type of corporate colonialism in a post Brexit Britain.

The British government in the northern powerhouse, bestowing the largest food company in the world Nestlé’s, political derestriction of the county of Yorkshire signifying it as a special economic zone, in exchange the company provides perpetual employment.

The project was inspired by the quintessential American novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. As a commentary of the 1920’s view of the American Dream and the pursuit of happiness. This story has been interpreted as a critique of capitalism and modern paternalism of company towns, shown between the relationship of Gatsby and Daisy.

Just as Gatsby is devoted to Daisy the employees are dedicated to the company. The tale embodies the aspects of dependency, greed and selfishness in its characters, which led to their ultimate demise.

Employee residents of Nestlé’s New York opt into a contract with the company and arranged a job for life in the least automatable roles such as construction, health care and teaching, in exchange for their innate freedoms. While the company provides security, infrastructure, and stability through a corporate authoritarian control.

The workers are paid through an act of participation to perpetuate the corporate fantasies of the company, environmental proficiency, ethical treatment and nostalgia in the production of goods. This is achieved by the constant restoration of the vale of respectability, a green sweet façade over the brutality of mass production made up of biodegradable sugar glass bricks.

Produced in the existing Nestlé’s site rechristened the White Rose Parliament, this cathedral of capitalism is the new centre of governance for the new privately run city state. This project acts a cautionary tale of the lost freedoms which could arise if we entrust in the privatisation of our lives.

Firstly Elliott, if you could give us an introduction about yourself, where you have studied, what stage you are in your architectural career/degree and also any of your interests or specialities?


Well I am a 5th year Masters Student at the Bartlett School of Architecture, I studied my undergraduate degree at Kent and was on the rowing team there. My specialities are in narrative and disruptive forms of architecture which have philosophical and highly visualised qualities. I have an outward approach to learning any new skills which will strengthen my repertoire.


Your project is satirical in its nature which offers a diverse perspective on design not often seen in most architecture schools, what influenced you to explore your project in this way? 


This project takes a more philosophical approach to architecture than conventional projects. This is because it aims to hold up a mirror to society’s issues, to provoke people greater than myself to act and change upon matters important to how we live. My tutor CJ Lim was a big influence to me in this approach and an icon in his own right of satirical projects.

Whilst your project is satirical, it does aim to tackle a very pressing issue of the privatisation of cities and towns by large conglomerate companies, was there any particular reason as to why you explored this topic? 


We spend 35%, roughly a third of our waking lives working. The power large corporate institutions hold in society is ever increasing and some of the richest companies in the world are far more influential in our lives than countries. Holding power over our housing, employment, resources, entertainment and nutrition. This project acts as a cautionary tale of the lost freedoms which could arise if we entrust in the privatisation of our lives. Therefore it needs to be addressed and regulated, what this project tries to do is to get the observer to consider its importance, if done correctly the project has achieved its goal.


Your dystopian Nestle’s New York was inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, interpreted as a critique of capitalism and employee dependency on large corporations. How did the use of Fitzgerald’s book as a reference influence your design? And has the use of literature always been influential within your architectural work? 


I have always been fond of the wisdom found in fictional stories, however this direct reference came as part of the project’s brief this year, which asked us to take a piece of literature to instigate our thesis’s. The Great Gatsby became my starting point for this project as it best describes the pursuit of happiness in the American Dream through work and self-betterment. The novel embodies the aspects of dependency, greed and selfishness in its characters, which led to their ultimate demise. I interpreted the characters relationships between each other as Gatsby, the employees (us) and his dependency to Daisy, the institutions which rule them.

Through this process your project too tells its own story, do you feel that storytelling through architecture is a critical aspect of the design process? 


Yes, storytelling has always been at the centre of architecture, we use it to convey a building, an idea, or a world not yet realised. The stories within literature or film have influenced me in the same way these medians convey important points to large audiences. Therefore I try to use architecture in the same way, where the tectonic forms all have important roles in translating the story to the observer.


The imagery you produce is unlike any other we have seen, how has your flair developed over time and is there anyone or anything that has inspired your graphical style? 


Imagery conveys an idea faster than any other medium, ’a picture tells a thousand words’. I developed my particular style over the duration of my architectural education, tailoring it to what the project is trying to convey. My project prior this one took on a very photorealistic aesthetic as it best described the disruptive nature of a near post automation future. While this project ‘The Sweet Proposal’ has taken a more of story book appearance, to address the fantasia of a sweet dystopian world set in a nostalgic 1920’s aesthetic.

No doubt our readers will be intrigued as to what your process is when producing these drawings, do you use particular software or hand drawing or a combination of the two?



In a brief summary the process to creating a drawing like this. I would first sketch out the composition and model in rhino and sketch up models which I try to texturize and colour, this could be up to 15 models per drawing. I then export these views as simple PDF prints and compose them using Photoshop, adding illustrations I have drawn in Illustrator such as trees, people, and unique elements.


You study at the prestigious Bartlett School of Architecture UCL how do you feel the school differs to that of others in the UK? 


I am very grateful to study at the Bartlett, I am surrounded by some of the best students of architecture from all over the world, it forces you to up your own game. Bouncing ideas off each other and teaching our own specialities to one another. The Bartlett as well has excellent facilities and teachers that will challenge and support any project you wish to embark on.

If you could offer one piece of advice to our architecture student followers what would it be? 


That would be to pursue what you enjoy. Whatever you enjoy will be the best product of your making, a pleasure to do and not a task.


Finally, where can people find out more about you and your projects? 


You can find all my previous work and this one, in full, soon at my website, or follow me on my Instagram, @elliottgjbishop which is regularly posted with work in progress drawings. Thank you.

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