The Joseph Cooper House embodies Camden’s complicated history; the walls sheltered early members of Camden’s most prominent family, witnessed the city’s rapid industrialization, supported the area’s conversion into a well-loved public park, and now bears the scars of civic abandonment.
Responding to the desires of the community to both gain a useful structure and forge a connection to the site’s rich history, we designed the reuse of the Joseph Cooper House ruin as a party pavilion subtly embedded with rich historic content. The pavilion roof provides shelter from the rain; a table and benches
provide seating; a grille invites picnic festivities. Etched surfaces throughout the building and site depict the history of Camden and the lives of the home’s inhabitants. The etched surfaces describe events in multiple overlapping ways through both text and pictures - accessible to both young children and well-read adults.
Our design celebrates the site’s history and embraces those who now inhabit the environs and claim the neighborhood as their own – it belongs to North Camden today.
1) ILLUSTRATED MAP_ Printed on the floor of the new patio to provide a sense of place and geographic context for the visitor, the map depicts Camden through time. The bubbled images describe a more intimate view and list date and factual information.
2) TABLE PLACE SETTING_ A vignette made up of text and images is stamped into the concrete table top. The vignette illustrates a fictitious gathering to introduce visitors to some of the people who once lived or worked at Pyne Poynt.
The table is stamped with images of a meal almost over with dining implements strewn about. Each of ten plates represent a different character. Each character’s plate is stamped with their name, a symbolic image, general date information, and a brief descriptive statement. The juxtaposition of characters from different time periods provides context for the visitor regarding the changing nature of Pyne Poynt from the 1680s to the 1920s.
3) OUTBUILDING FOOTPRINT TIMELINE_Historical content embedded in the ground plane at each “outbuilding”
location provides cultural context regarding the civic
significance of the Pyne Poynt as well as the associated lives
introduced within the table vignette collage. Landscape elements of granite slab are embedded in the ground etched with text large enough to be easily legible for the casual walker. The corners of each outbuilding are dated with the time frame the building existed on site and the text ringing the pad describes events during that time period.