In his 2019 book “Taking the Country’s Side”, the teacher and theorist Sebastian Marot speculates on the future relationship of the city and the countryside. The industrialisation of agriculture that has taken place over the last 100 years has displaced populations living and working on the land to the cities, separating the busy metropolis from the practice of farming that surrounds it. The intensive use of energy and technology required to produce cheap food has affected human health and biodiversity. Marot advocates turning away from the concentration of development in the city, and instead bringing architecture and agriculture back together. His idea of acceptable (and modest) growth is for lower density, greener development in the city, together with small, dispersed communities in the countryside that are more self-sustaining and resilient.
This year the studio will work on a brownfield site with existing buildings in rural Suffolk, just over an hour’s train ride from London. This sparsely occupied region of England, with its small villages and towns, was the most populated region in the Mediaeval period because of its fertile land and adjacency to the continent for trade. We will study the architectural possibilities of a small community that brings back together the basic functions of living, working and food production. With the input of others in Suffolk, we will look at ecosystems and their relationship to farming practices and soil conditions. We will look at trees and woodlands, as well as the stonework of ancient churches and ruined monasteries, to see the potential for sustainable timber and stone construction today. We will look at architectural responses in modernism to conditions outside urbanism, including forms of growth in buildings and structuralism.
In a year of real experiences, we will visit various forms of Paradise; artist’s gardens, market gardens and English landscape gardens. We will experience the site in different seasons together. The Unit trip will be a series of visits to open landscapes along the east coast between Harwich and Southwold, on bicycles. In the first semester, we will begin with the design of a shared house and garden, within the former market garden site of Rochester Square in Camden.
Architecture Postgraduate studios
PG Architecture Unit 02: Something Wonderful
Tony Fretton and Jillian Jones
The Royal College of Art building in Kensington Gore is a subtle building in that it is from the modern movement yet takes formal motifs from its surroundings. Unit 2’s project is to design a new building next to it for the Royal College of Art (RCA) according to the brief of Herzog and De Meuron’s new RCA building in Battersea. The objective is for you to design something wonderful!
PG Architecture Unit 03: Folkestone Fun Palace
Pippa Nissen, Marie-Lise Oulmont, Andrea Hickey, Kate Coghlan
This year we are designing a contemporary museum and venue, inspired by Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price’s theoretical designs for a "laboratory of fun" in the 1960’s, to bring culture to a mass audience. A flexible series of events or exhibitions – a machine for culture, within a permanent building that houses other functions that will form the spine of the building and extend to a masterplan for the town. This continues our explorations to reinvent museums.
PG Architecture Unit 04: Hyper Campus of Redundant Parts
Jonas Lundberg, Nate Kolbe
We are redesigning the London Met north campus as a collective work of many hands. We use generative and multi-authored tools to help construct the work of many hands as we see design and architecture a collective process.
PG Architecture Unit 06: Lines Through The City
Professor Maurice Mitchell, Dr Bo Tang
We will look at urban lines and change impenetrable boundaries into shared open borders. We will assemble a piece of social infrastructure on sites at Loughborough Junction along a railway line which cuts through the city from Brixton to Peckham. Unit 6’s working methods will be introduced during a field trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales. We will encourage you to find new ways of looking, imagining and representing your ideas, whilst cooperating with fellow students.
PG Architecture Unit 07: Good Nature
David Grandorge, Ted Swift
The idea of Good Nature reflects a desire by this unit to make buildings in the city for human occupation that do not thoughtlessly or unnecessarily displace other forms of life but attempt to co-exist with them.
PG Architecture Unit 08: Measurement – Arrangement – Intuition
Takero Shimazaki, Paolo Emilio Pisano and Karabo Turner
Unit 8 will investigate the importance of mathematical measurements in architecture. Careful studies will inform exercises in proposed architecture within existing buildings and places. Through repetition, adjustment, trial, and error, we will compose and compare architectural arrangements against the backdrop of what already exists. We will identify tensions and compromises between mathematical measure and the imperfect existing, and consider how the resulting forms affect the wider context.
PG Architecture Unit 09: The Artful Vernacular
Stephen Taylor and Theodoros Thysiades
In the spirit of Luigi Snozzi’s urban rules for Monte Carasso, Switzerland we will work in the small town of town of Saint Germain de Calberte, in the south of France. We will study the existing town fabric and local vernacular forms and propose ways to extend it. We will add new buildings and spaces, made sustainable by their timeless quality and contribution to public space. In the first semester you will each design and make a big model of small timber house and one piece of furniture.
PG Architecture Unit 12: The Garden
Peter St John, Fabienne Sommer, Ben Speltz and James Hand
Sebastian Marot’s book "Taking the Country's Side" speculates on the future relationship of the city and the countryside. His idea of acceptable (and modest) growth is for lower greener development in the city, together with small dispersed centres in the countryside that are self-sustaining. We will work on a brownfield site in rural Suffolk, looking at the architectural possibilities of a small community that brings back together the basic functions of living, working and food production.