Maurice Mitchell & Francesca Pont
This year, Unit 6’s Architecture Exchange will involve sites in Mile End/Bromley by Bow (London); Taj Ganj, a historic slum adjacent to the Taj Mahal, (India); and Freetown, (Sierra Leone).
Using the site as the primary resource, Unit 6 will adopt a strategy of architectural tuning. We will avoid demolition, removal and replacement; seeking rather to add, transform and re-use. Our interventions will not aim to simulate what already exists but rather to enable inhabitants to exploit its latent potential. In deciding what to erase and what to reveal we will be aware of our chosen site’s engagement with the changing city metabolism. Our relationship to context will be performative rather than formal. This strategy will allow us to be generous with the craftspeople, materials, spatial resources and city infrastructure we employ.
We will start the year with a preliminary project where each student will produce a measured survey of a particular building in Mile End/Bromley by Bow located in its specific situation (context and programme), and compare this building with a provocative precedent. Reacting to this precedent, students will be asked to propose erasures, additions and adaptations to the existing fabric and assess the impact on the current programme of occupation. The experience, skill and obsessions derived from this project will help drive the main portfolio project.
During weeks 6 and 7 students will participate in a field trip to either: Taj Ganj, Agra, to carry out physical and cultural surveys in preparation for their major project; or, for those locating their major project in London, to the Centre for Alternative Technology (Wales) where we will employ hands-on techniques of investigation and experimental making to practice transforming the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.
Students joining the studio this year will be offered a choice of one of two major projects based on investigating the rich diversity of city topography, identity of people and character of buildings in either Mile End/Bromley-by-Bow or Taj Ganj. Cross studio exchanges involving all 3 city sites (London, Agra, Freetown) will assist students by assessing what is common to each of these slices of territory and what is not.
MM/FP August 2013