Our unit is looking at architecture from the point of view of experience – how we emotionally engage with spaces, and how we can design a paced experience for visitors that adds to the meaning of a museum collection.
The projects this year stem from the work of our practice Nissen Richards Studio, and will draw on live and completed projects. We spend time thinking about how a journey shapes our imagination and how we engage with history and our place in society. We have our own methodologies for our work that help us create a nuanced and engaging experience, which we will draw on with students in our unit.
We have been thinking about what museums mean in terms of our own practice over the last few months – particularly in lockdown during the pandemic. We have been asked by our clients to re-evaluate and think about a more relevant and mobile architecture that can respond to the shrinking audience, visitor numbers, budgets and appetite for shared public experiences.
It is also a moment too when we are questioning objects and where these come from. We are interested in the invisible storytellers from history, who may not be present in collections, and how we can draw out parallel curatorial stories that are more relevant to today.
The pandemic kick started several trends that were happening anyway – as people stayed at home and thought about the world around them. Ideas about a digital future, sustainability and de-colonialising museums. There is no going back now – we need to find a new and appropriate way in how to display collections, and actually fundamentally re-assess what a museum means. We will ask you to create a choreographed journey that begins outside the building, and runs through a series of spaces and beyond, that binds our society into the architecture.
As a sub-theme for the year, we will also look at light. How we can use light as a lyrical tool to tell stories, and to create better and healthier spaces. Another theme will be accessibility and equality for all. We want our spaces to feel the same whatever your abilities or background. Equally sustainability as a central discussion point through the year – how in our shrinking world we have a responsibility to create spaces in a responsible way. To find the right approach we will encourage experimenting with materials.
Our work this year will be in and around Hackney Marshes in London. We will ask you to design two proposals. Firstly a small building to house an exhibition. Secondly a new museum, around a collection of your choosing, complete with ancillary spaces, visitor entrance, café and shop.
Architecture Postgraduate Studios
PG Architecture Unit 02: Creative Kentish Town
Tony Fretton and Jillian Jones
Exploration of the social and urban possibilities of contemporary work and leisure, and designing unusual forms and facades.
PG Architecture Unit 03: A Museum For Now
Pippa Nissen, Marie-Lise Oulmont, Andrea Hickey, Kate Coghlan
Our unit is looking at architecture from the point of view of experience and how we can design a series of spaces as a carefully choreographed route. We are working on two projects over the year. Firstly, a smaller building to house an exhibition, and then a new museum building in the Hackney Marshes. We will ask you to think about themes around light and materials and how we can make our cultural buildings relevant today; how has the pandemic changed our view of culture and society?
PG Architecture Unit 04: Virtual Laboratory; Wilderness In The Making
Jonas Lundberg, Nate Kolbe
How can we plan cities and buildings adapted to physical distancing, remote working and increased resilience to extreme natural events? How can we reduce our ecological footprint by making new provisions for public space both real and virtual at the same time as we embrace the COVID induced thriving biodiversity of our cities? We work with digital tools in two design projects direct to factories in the exploration of engineered timber: timber pavilions and tall timber towers.
PG Architecture Unit 05: The Borrowed Landscape
Michael Dillon, Amy Bradley Smith, Lauren Shevills
This year we explore the layers between outdoors and indoors in dwellings. Forming skins and spaces that mediate climate. By manipulating thermal enclosure, we look to reduce the material consumption of building and make landscape more manifest in the interior. The borrowed landscape transgresses ideas of ventilation, enclosure, live/work and a more cyclical and outdoor life-cycle. We are actively engaging with the climate emergency, designing to reduce embodied energy.
PG Architecture Unit 06: Loose Fit City
Professor Maurice Mitchell, Dr Bo Tang
This year, Unit 06 will be investigating two London settings looking for ways to transform hard boundaries into loose borders into which students will introduce appropriate social infrastructure to create and expand common civic grounds. We will encourage you to find new ways of representing your ideas, fostering cooperation between fellow students and provoking new ways of looking, imagining and representing.
PG Architecture Unit 07: Self Build: Furniture, House and Housing with an Emphasis on Timber Construction
David Grandorge, Ted Swift
Unit 07’s primary interest this year is self build, by which we mean to self construct as well as to procure and manage the construction of a dwelling or dwellings. This idea will pursued at two scales at two sites in the London Borough of Hackney. The two projects will address some of the issues raised by the housing crisis and the impact of architecture on resource depletion and climate change.
PG Architecture Unit 08: Enough Already
Takero Shimazaki, Paolo Emilio Pisano and Karabo Turner
We have enough already: enough resources, enough buildings, enough space. Unit 8 explores the notions that everyone might enjoy private sufficiency and public luxury, and that of a '15 Minute City'. Leading from a provocation that daily life can be organised within a small. accessible radius, we will propose singular architectural interventions, challenging ideas of private and public space, re-use of resources and building stock, minimal intervention, and juxtaposition of programmes and spaces.
PG Architecture Unit 09: Rus in Urbe
Stephen Taylor and Theodoros Thysiades
This year in Unit 09 we will explore how architectural projects that sustain a feeling of the countryside whilst living in the city could be developed. We will work in a suburban setting and test how good design could help cultivate a sense of community and liveliness. We will aim at creating environmentally sustainable and economically viable architectural forms, suitable for a diverse urban society able to live in harmony with nature.
PG Architecture Unit 12: The Dream of the Metropolis
Peter St John, Fabienne Sommer, Ben Speltz and James Hand
At a time when its celebration is under threat, the studio will look at how we protect public life and sociability, by looking at the provisional and the festive social spaces of the city. Reflecting on some important questions of this time, we will look at architecture that is independent of the permanent city fabric, and is instead immediate, short-term, diverse and public. We will start with the design of a small interior, a café or a bar, and finish large with the design of a public park.
PG Architecture Unit 13: Industry in the City
Jane Clossick, Beatrice De Carli, Colin O’Sullivan, Mark Brearley
If you want a city with industry, with makers and menders as part of its diversity, join us to develop bold proposals for a chunk of the Old Kent Road. Start with the design of a large scale multi-let workshop building, later work to shape and advocate alternative plans to save the area from becoming a super-suburb of residential conversion and make space for industry and craftsmanship. Embrace one of the city’s big design challenges, and join the tussle over how this place should evolve.