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The Illegal Museum of Beyond


The Illegal Museum of Beyond is a speculative future museum that exists at the far edges of the Anthropocene. It is housed in the university on the world’s longest pier, developed as part of the Illegal Town Plan [Rhyl, North Wales]. The university is a series of mutating viral spaces that infect young minds and alter their neurobiology with the fury of an endangered parasite.

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Ward, Matt and Loizeau, Jimmy. “The Illegal Town Plan: anecdotal speculation for coastal futures.” Temes de Disseny 36

In one of the most deprived coastal towns in the UK, the Illegal Town Plan (ITP) set out to address the despair of local people, and the loss of ambition demonstrated by local planning authorities. As part of this ongoing Goldsmith’s Department of Design project (0002013-present), a speculation to build the world’s longest pier in Rhyl, North Wales, has developed out of key relationships with local people. This particular form of grounded speculation aims to untangle some of the wicked problems that are affecting the town through collective reality detection and amplification creating new ‘images of the future’ to produce preferred alternative futures for Rhyl.


Once initiated, the project has been used to investigate the application of an assemblage of speculative methods to support collective imagination and community development. The challenge for the illegal designer is to move through the many encounters that straddle spaces between the ‘proper’ and ‘improper’, amplifying marginal voices in order to stimulate the imaginations of those in power.


In the case of the pier, the architecture speculation acts as a discursive device for new social realities; gathering together people, ideas, and stories to stimulate and re-engage local action, manufacturing a feedback system that brings about social change as a present reality. The idea of the pier is sustained through diverse transformations that assemble and amplify collective hopes, in order to accommodate the desires of those involved.

Project Proposal: The Illegal Town Plan
Authors: Jimmy Loizeau & Matt Ward, Design Department, Goldsmith

The Illegal Museum of Beyond, at the end of the world’s longest pier, is forever extending away from the shoreline, just out of reach, on the far side, like the spaghetti of space time drawn out on the edge of a black hole. The science faction of the pier is never ending in its extended times and place. The end of the pier is always beyond the edge of time, over the horizon existing at its vanishing point, around the curvature of the earth, from which it returns back around to meet itself. This circular motion means the observer and the observed are always moving relative to one another, always translating between different times and places.  This allows exchanges to take place in which different times and places can become connected and things transferred. It is via these unpredictable portals that objects are relocated between times in the eddying turbulence of time travel. What is communicated in the transfer is subject to all of the usual difficulties of mistranslation that take place in the misunderstandings between different worlds. 

The Illegal Museum of Beyond houses the pre-eminent collection of objects from our future/alternative worlds, the history of futures already long passed.  These are the re-making of past museum objects that have not existed yet. Its most spectacular encyclopaedic collections have been assembled to represent our broken futures of the Misanthropocene. 


Sometimes specs, fibres, dust, but also valued objects in pristine condition, cherished through time and now cared for to the highest possible standards. These are a material presence of all that has been lost, assembled as neglected things, curated as the archaeological and geological vestigial remains of lost ages of affluence. They represent the material evidence of missed opportunities to act in the interests of those who come after. 


The museum gathers these objects in a present that is forever extending through time. They bear the consequences of being maintained as a concatenation of interventions that render their fabrication as museum objects invisible, imbricated in the many desperate lives that came after. They act as a lost memory of what was and what we have now become.

Image: Kay Richardson

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