This year, Studio 4 will be exploring making and manufacture in relation to the city. In many parts of London, workshops and studios are being diminished to critically low levels and neighbourhoods that previously enabled a diverse community and a range of uses are becoming places exclusively to shop or sleep. In the contemporary city we contend that it is essential to maintain and create spaces for making.
In the city there is a long tradition of medieval craftsman’s guilds. To be a member of a guild was to be a citizen and the social structure and political governance of London was shaped by these organisations. The guild comprised of a three-tiered hierarchy of master, journeyman and apprentice to enable knowledge and skills to be passed down and we will consider places where craftsmanship is learnt, practiced and perfected. With the emergence of the industrial city vocational learning and training was celebrated with the formation of the École Polytechnique. Although post-industrial London has more recently abandoned the institution of the local polytechnic, making and craft remain vital elements of the city’s metabolism.
We will begin with a series of making briefs that utilise the Cass Works facilities and engage with the cross disciplinary ethos of our school. We will consider the inherent properties of different materials and experiment with paper, wood, plaster, ceramic, fabric and metal. By exploring the processes and techniques required to manipulate these materials in the workshops we will learn to cut, fold, carve, joint, cast, weave and weld. We will analyse and represent the topography of the city at a range of scales and through this process assert that making is thinking.
Our field trip will take us to Berlin, Dessau and Weimar in order to contextualise how architecture can be reimagined in order to respond to a wider narrative of art, craft and manufacture. At the beginning of the twentieth century as the factory and mechanisation took on a greater cultural significance the Deutscher Werkbund searched for appropriate industrial forms to represent the Zeitgeist. The Bauhaus school which followed regarded students as apprentices and they were required to learn various crafts through Werklehre (practical study) in conjunction with Formlehre (study of form) that included instruction in composition, colour, texture and expression. The synthesis of arts and crafts allowed students a greater understanding of material and form and the highest aim was held to be a total work of art: a building.
In 1836 the opening of the London to Greenwich line carried on a viaduct of 878 brick arches signalled the beginning of the railway development that was to transform the city. These structures of the industrialisation that threatened the existence of the craftsman in the city are now havens for bespoke making and local production. The 10km of uninterrupted railway viaducts that cut through the surrounding urban fabric in the south central London area will define our site. The monumental infrastructure of the viaducts creates a fragmented terrain comprising of pockets of dislocated space. This context suggests particular and specific interventions, whilst affording us the opportunity to make strategic connections at the urban scale.
Through engaging with making and materials we will develop urban compositions that celebrate the depth of the city and enable the co-existence of formal and informal life. In response to the urban order, workshops and studios will be composed around shared yard spaces and set in dialogue with a reinterpretation of the Guild Hall in a civic ensemble.
The Craftsman, Richard Sennett, 2008
London, the Unique City, Steen Eiler Rasmussen, 1937
|Course||Architecture BA (Hons)|
|Where||Central House, 3rd Floor Studios|
|When||Tuesday and Friday|