PG Architecture Unit 12: The Invisible World

Unit brief

In a text from 1988 “The Hidden Geometry of Nature”, the then-young architect Jacques Herzog describes his mysterious interest in the invisible world, and his search to describe it in the visible world. He described a search for principles, that address the context of existing forms and the physical world, affirming or contradicting this material in a kind of inventive play. The principles are analogous to the hidden geometry of nature, by which he means the complex and underlying system of relationships found in nature. His interest is in their relationships, and less in their appearance. This can be imagined in many analogies, such as the balance of an ecological system of plants and animals, or the relationship within a particular landscape of rock, soil and vegetation, or the way a highly organised society is represented in the arrangement of the rooms of a flat, or the cross section of a house, or the buildings of a school. This way of thinking tends towards reflection on how human habitation and our use of resources relates to the natural world.

Revisiting this idea in 2023 as it was proposed by a young person, the studio this year will review its different architectural possibilities in the context of the existential crisis of climate change. The studio will start by looking at the writings and ideas of figures interested in the natural world; Goethe, Bruno Taut and Joseph Beuys, as well as Agnes Martin, Hilma Af Klimt and Rachel Carson. Over the year, we will visit sites of interest with an ecologist; coastlines, ancient forests, river estuaries and mining sites. The year’s design project will look at environments for learning, and focus on the design of a school in North London, with classrooms and a garden.

In recent years the studio has worked with related themes;

2022/2023 Second Life , 2021/2022 The Garden, 2019/2020 Everything is Transformation. The themes are connected by an interest in imagining alternatives to our problematic present, and a renewed relationship between humans and nature. The work from the studio can also be found on instagram.

Abstract painting by Hilma af Klint; a spherical ‘bullseye’ shape on a red background


Course Architecture RIBA 2 - MArch
Tutors Peter St John
Amy Grounsell
Where Goulston Street
When Monday and Thursday


Architecture Postgraduate studios