Maurice Mitchell and Francesca Pont
Chess Pieces in the Landscape by Darren Wilson
Suspicious of the tendency of strategic and large-scale policy planning to distil out rich but fragile local interactions, the studio encourages students to work outwards from the observed fragment of lived experience (the moment), i.e. from the bottom up. The studio aims to explore how the urban landscape is inhabited, made and remade through personal and collective acts events, memories, and experiences. It cuts through the surface to expose the undercurrent of silent issues that constitute the everyday.
9 students spent two weeks with Roma/Ashkali communities on the edge of Pristina, Kosovo. Portfolio projects include: the use of redundant railway lands and railway carriages to make a puppet theatre and caravanserai, a waste to heat and power plant as an educative intervention with the involvement of local school children; a tower school and mews workshops in the spaces left in the Ashkali mohallas (neighbourhoods), a bakery and boiler fuelled by coppicing; and allotments, school and workshops in the fields.
6 students have made proposals for two shoe maker neighbourhoods which have been built up along the open drain running from the edge of Agra to discharge into the Yamuna River beside the Taj Mahal in India. Schemes include: an Apprentices Hall, a City Wall Promenade, a Festival Pavilion and Laundry, A Water Treatment Ziggurat and a Dargah (guest house) and new workhomes.
Each of the localities studied are distinct in physical character, history and urban grain. By surveying the physical topography and consciously interacting with local people students built up a physical and cultural picture of each settlement studied. The student proposals have grown out of these proposals.
Live projects in Delhi and Agra carried out within the Projects Office have provided conceptual grounding.