This year Unit 8 will explore the language of architecture in relation to the ethics of construction.
We begin with Venturi’s definition of design which is ‘Both-And’ - that which embodies contradictory levels of meaning and use. We will propose buildings that allow inconsistencies and redundancies, encouraging the seemingly dissimilar to exist side by side. We will experiment with the form of civic architecture in Stoke-on-Trent, a city with a legacy of expressive building and industrial heritage that is now diminished. Branded the ‘Brexit Capital of Britain,’ the decline in the potteries has side-lined the six towns of Stoke, now aggregated together with no appreciable centre and a poorly developed public realm.
We will conduct workshops exploring the changing nature of construction, designing and making details, in parallel with our programme of seminars on architectural theory. In reading the Ten Books of Architecture by Leon Battista Alberti, and Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradictionin Architecture, we will compare the two texts, and will confront the Vitruvian assumption at the root of Alberti’s books - that when utility and structure are adequately addressed, beauty is the inevitable result. We will discuss how, over the course of the twentieth century, Modernism redefined the expression of structure and utility. Today, a new notion of truthful construction driven by efficiency dominates discourse - and it is within this contemporary palette that we will experiment.
The unit remains focused on public building and will again explore the potential of the individual artefact to influence the public realm. Our sites will be scattered across Stoke-on-Trent. Taking our cue from the characterful buildings of the industrial past, we will start by designing new council service centres for the constituent towns of Stoke. The unit will conclude the year with the design of buildings with public character, experimenting with the language of the ‘Both-And’ to define the civic in the every-day.
Image: Vanna Venturi House, Construction Drawings, Sepia Set, May 24-27th, 1963 © The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania
Architecture Postgraduate Studios
Unit 02: Ideal World
Ideal World is about creating delight with the basic components of architecture: urban design, plan and facade making, construction and drawing.
Unit 04: Virtual Laboratory | Adaptation to Extreme Topography
Jonas Lundberg, Andrew Grant and Nate Kolbe
Buildings and infrastructure of the Sicilian volcanic landscape in the vicinity of Mount Etna have integrated with the extreme topography by exploiting the available building material and construction methods. Unit 04 strives for an architecture adapted to the extreme topography but with character and ubiquitous qualities springing from a combination of digital design technique and a meticulous exploitation of the local volcanic and timber materials used in combination with emerging technology.
Unit 05: The House and Garden
Alex Ely and Michael Dillon
Focusing on first hand experience, developing working methods and understanding context, we will examine the complex constraints of modern housing. We will look at vertical living in London, and communal space as a method of improving connections between the interior and exterior of all dwellings.
Unit 06: Civic Edgelands
Professor Maurice Mitchell, Dr Bo Tang, Jane McAllister and Sandra Denicke-Polcher
A city, a countryside from a distance is a city and a countryside; but as you approach, they are houses, trees, shingles, leaves, grass, ants, legs of ants and so on to infinity: all this is enveloped in the name [edgelands] (apologies to Blaise Pascal in Thoughts). Unit 6 offers students a choice of three settings each consisting of migrant gateways and transitional settlements: Eleonas, Athens, Greece; Belmonte, Calabria, Italy or Kaningo, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Unit 07: Polyvalent Models
David Grandorge and Paloma Gormley
This year, the unit will focus on the practice of architecture as a partially autonomous discipline, addressing the issues of polyvalence and material culture in the design of a city scaled building and a structure that will be built at 1:1 on Margent Farm in Cambridge.
Unit 08: Both-And Midland cities III
Takero Shimazaki (t-sa) and Summer Islam
Unit 8 will explore the language of architecture in relation to the ethics of construction. Beginning with Venturi’s definition of design which is ‘Both-And’ - that which embodies contradictory levels of meaning and use, we will propose civic buildings in Stoke on Trent which allow inconsistencies and redundancies, encouraging the seemingly dissimilar to exist side by side.
Unit 09: Gigantism and the Baroque
Stephen Taylor, Theodoros Thysiades and Jamie Dean
Unit 9 will make large residential buildings in London that explore a shift in scale well beyond their immediate context. The Architecture of the Baroque will be explored for its artistic and compositional qualities of scale and distortion.
Unit 14: Roding Riverfront
Pierre d’Avoine and Pereen d'Avoine
Unit 14 will study the Roding River in Barking, East London. We will engage with a variety of protagonists with interests in the area to evolve proposals for the Roding riverfront and environs.
Unit 15: Good Values
James Binning, Ellie Howard and James Pockson
Unit 15 will work across Erith in the London Borough of Bexley, proposing projects for public sites across the town. Against a backdrop of deepening cuts to public services, ailing high-streets and a purge of industry from the city, we will explore forms of civic architecture, social enterprise and proactive policymaking with the potential to positively and radically renew the built environment.