About the show
"Use - Reuse - Misuse - Abuse - Disuse - Refuse"(Cedric Price)
Cedric Price's thinking on the whole life of a building, and his interest in time and timing retains its freshness and pertinence today. It's too restrictive to think of a piece of architecture as a finished, finite object capable of a specific use only. This is one reason why much of contemporary architecture lacks vitality and personality, ageing ungracefully in an uncertain future. With this in mind (and we are not alone) we often find ourselves gravitating to buildings during the stages of their construction. They seem full of potential, open with promise and expectation of the future, like a small child. The unexpected and often absurd ways that buildings and parts of the city are used and adapted in time also fascinates us. And of course, the strange beauty of a ruin continues to be an inspiration, not for nostalgic or historical reasons, but because structures that are in partial disrepair or demolition have so many wonderful stories to tell us.
The city and the buildings that give the city its form are part of a continuous work in progress. Architecture is a living phenomenon. This year we have gone on a journey with the students through the many stages in the lives of buildings, exploring the allure and rewards of designing with this in mind. Making architecture in this way is expansive and full of richness, allowing you room to pause, take stock of the situation and breathe. It helps to concentrate the mind on designing the essential, the elemental and to find a sense of elegance in architecture. We want to investigate the merits of buildings that retain a stripped back rawness or an attractive economy. This could be called "the beauty of leanness". To identify the optimum moment when to stop designing is important - not to overwork a project reducing the ability for architecture to communicate directly to people. The clarity and ease by which people can understand and have an emotional response to a building during construction or in a state of ruination is the point here.
The main design project hasfocused on the reuse of an existing ensemble of buildings in London. The selected sites all offered opportunities to significantly enhance the relationship that the building has with the surrounding city through radical and critical intervention. Following on from a long tradition of teaching by ARU in Diploma Unit 01, students were asked to design without a set program of uses when beginning the design.
The challenge was to transform an existing building into a "City Building" and to make a gift to the city in the process. A deep understanding of how the building is constructed, the intentions of the architects that created it and the story of any adjustments that have been made over time were required. Students were asked to make judgments on what elements they thought were redundant or possessed a special quality or spirit that their architectural proposals attempted to reveal and respond to. They were asked to be sensitive and respectful whilst at the same time firm and courageous with their proposals for partial demolition and reconstruction. This is a fine line.
Each student developed their own positions on themes such as proportion, tectonics, finishes and colours. These are the things that sadly, architects tend to think about less and less today, but these are the aspects of the project that can give architecture a sense of continuity, longevity and enjoyment. When such matters are handled skilfully, the result can be an architecture that makes you "walk on your toes". This was the level of ambition set for Studio 01 and we think they have delivered.
Alex Bank + Sam Casswell June 2014
|Location||Central House, 2nd Floor|
|Course||Architecture BA (Hons) RIBA Part 1|
Alex Bank and Sam Casswell
with Florian Beigel, Phil Christou and ARU
Adrian Portillo Svensson
Daniel Rolando Pilaquinga Teran
Danishka Dias Sumanasekera
Tamara Hernandez Escobar
Ania Losinger & Mats Eser
Felix Lehner & Sitterwerk
The Marquess of Northampton
Whitten Timber (for the discounting of timber mouldings used in the exhibition)