Unit 12: Everything is Transformation

Unit brief

In an attempt to look more thoughtfully at ourselves and what we represent in this unstable time, the studio will make propositions for a new architecture school for The Cass at its site in Aldgate. The year’s work will focus on a transformation of the existing buildings, which are themselves conversions from previous uses. The project will look at the potential of the existing structures, and how they can be enlarged and improved to make a permanent home for The Cass at Aldgate. Students will make proposals for an exemplary and representational university building in a rich and interesting part of the city.

The idea of transformation will be the subject of the year’s work. In the European city, everything involves changing what already exists, every architectural project is a form of rebuilding. We will explore the ethics and aesthetics of transformation; the deep, almost alchemical, process of re-use and reinterpretation which enables and expresses the continuing development of urban life. Learning from many examples, we will show how a respect for found things, and an enjoyment of the act of overlaying and accumulation in the history of a building, can lead to architecture as diverse, spirited and radical as any new structure.

The transformation of The Cass will be the medium of this exploration; reusing, extending and building upon the existing structure, in a more eloquent and idealistic version of itself. At the beginning, we will examine how the School and the teaching works now, and each student will prepare their own brief for how teaching at The Cass should work today. We will look at examples of architecture schools from the twentieth century where the building represents the teaching philosophy of the School, and make our own versions. We will involve the whole School in this endeavour, inviting teachers and other students to join a conversation about what the School should be.

In November the studio will travel by train to Berlin via Cologne, to visit historic and contemporary examples of reconstruction and reuse in the transformation of the metropolitan city.

Image: Gordon Matta Clark, Conical Intersect, 1975

Construction site with circular hole in wall


Course Architecture RIBA 2 - MArch
Tutors Peter St John
Fabienne Sommer
Ben Speltz
James Hand
Where Goulston Street
Room GS1-16a
When Monday and Thursday


Architecture Postgraduate studios


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