Studio 4: The Shape of the In-between

Studio brief

The Shape of the In-between

Maintaining our preoccupation with the importance of public space in the art of city making, this year Studio 4 will be considering the value and possibilities of two archetypal urban forms, namely The Square and The Courtyard.

As our cities become increasingly defined by privatisation, gated territories, and regulated and controlled environments we will speculate how one might preserve and promote the public realm as a democratic space for gathering, socialising, celebrating, protesting and engaging with public life. Whilst sources and precedents will necessarily be broad and varied, from the agora to the piazza, from the hutong to the cloister, our shared frame of reference will be communal spaces that are places where people come together.

Composition will be fundamental to our investigations and proposals, as we develop a design repertoire that explores notions of front and back, solid and void, line and fill. The compositions that we create will often be characterised by opposing conditions – protective or protected, formal or informal, inside or outside. Sectional drawings and models will be instrumental in exploring the thresholds and transitions between these differing conditions. Through our spatial studies and propositions we will not only be concerned with the shape of things, but critically with The Shape of the In-between.*

Our understanding of squares and courtyards, and our thinking, will be guided and augmented by a series of workshops with the Cassworks Print Room. Communicating thoughts and translating ideas through a range of printed media will require us to explicitly engage with the nuances of line, tone, texture and colour. Appropriating techniques such as screen printing, lino block and etching will require us to reappraise our understanding of the role that representation can play in our design process.

The site will be a high street, the Walworth Road in south London. The high street is inherently a linear and transitory artery and through our interventions we will seek to expose the depth of the block and reveal the hinterlands beyond. Our urban compositions and building proposals will manipulate and play with the existing urban grain to provide opportunities for celebrating public life in the city.

*Aldo van Eyck’s theory of the threshold, "Das Reich des Zwischen" (the realm of the in-between) features in "Threshold and Meeting – The Shape of the In-between", Forum no.8, 1959.

Artwork of a black square on a plain background, entitled Black Square, by Kazimir Malevich, 1915


Course Architecture BA (Hons)
Tutor Anna Ludwig
Rufus Willis
Richard Cottrell
Where Central House, 3rd floor studios
When Tuesday and Friday

Architecture Studios