“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”
― Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Whether we like it or not, the United Kingdom will leave the EU at precisely 11pm on Friday, March 29th, 2019. With 17.4 million people having voted for Brexit, 16.1 million remain voters are faced with the prospect of being dragged out of the EU against their will.
Architecture can represent identity in a multitude of ways. Some buildings carry signifiers of geography through the use of native materials, locally-specific construction techniques or the presence of distinctive ornamental features which bring definition to their regional character. Other buildings set about representing a shift in identity. For instance, the devolution of Scotland and Wales in the late 1990s created opportunities for architects to challenge notions of nationhood and governance by proposing challenging new types of buildings which looked very different from the seat of government we had come to recognise in Westminster.
But with the referendum result split 48% to 52% in favour of leaving the EU, we will be asking, if architecture is to be considered a democratic form that represents the society it serves, what would be the manifestation of a nation pulling in both directions at once?
As in previous years, Studio Ten is interested in the relationship between architecture and time. We will once again look to the past to say something surprising about the future, but this year from a new perspective. A flawed memory of a past and an imagined vision of the future are the basis of many people’s reasons for voting in the UK EU referendum. As journalist Mark Easton wrote, "there is more than a hint of nostalgia about people's sense of Englishness. Almost three times as many of its residents think England was 'better in the past' than believe its best years lie in the future."
This sits in stark contrast to the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who all share the view that their nations' prosperity lies more in the future than in past.
Identity in the UK is further complicated by regional forces which, in the case of Scotland, have tendencies towards further devolution under the manifesto of a ruling Scottish Nationalist Party, whilst demanding membership of the EU in Brussels which ironically entails the centralisation of many of its powers.
We will be travelling to abandoned, disused historic buildings around the country, challenging students to extend, convert and reimagine the future of defunct architectures to offer a commentary on the divergent identities emerging across the UK.
This years studio title is taken from a lost album from the great jazz saxophone player John Coltrane. The album title emerged from a conversation between Coltrane another jazz musician in the late 1950s "about starting a sentence in the middle, and then going to the beginning and the end of it at the same time...both directions at once" as a means of exploring a new meaning.
By looking to the past to say something about the future, being critical as a means of being projective, and representing a nation split right through its core, this year we are excited to be proposing an architecture which looks Both Directions at Once.
Image: 'Fracking Facility and Regional Parliament: Detailed Elevation Study’ by Owain Williams
Studio 01: Generosity
Alex Bank and Sam Casswell
Studio 1 will explore the potential of generosity in architecture. Generosity comes from the design of real things simply expressed; the interrelation of exterior / interior spaces; the gesture of a building; structure / construction; proportions, materials, textures, colours. Practicing these fundamental aspects of architecture will require effort, intellect, humour and a good eye. We will investigate how architecture can bring a lasting sense of delight and pleasure to sites in central London.
Studio 02: After City 2 – Tolerance and Compromise
Colin O’Sullivan and Charlotte Harris
Studio 02 will continue its explorations of European rural settlements, this year in Alentejo, Portugal.
Studio 03: Crossing Cultures Industrious Edgelands: a productive threshold between town and country
Sandra Denicke-Polcher and Jane McAllister
The studio offers students to be part of a larger research group and develop architecture proposals and strategies for the depopulated mountain village, Belmonte Calabro, in Southern Italy. Working with local stakeholders, migrants and graduates, Studio 3 proposes an “Industrious Edgeland” to re-animate the town of Belmonte; preforming as an inhabited live-work threshold and engaging the surrounding landscape with the civic town centre.
Studio 04: Frame and Horizon
Anna Ludwig and Rufus Willis
Studio 4 will consider the topography of London’s city wall and how, through the good governance of urban institutions, sanctuaries in the city can be created to provide support and opportunities for its citizens. Our speculations, informed by two closely related representational conceptions: Frame and Horizon, will assert a public realm in which edge conditions become borders for exchange not boundaries of separation.
Studio 06: The Experimental House
James Payne and David Leech
"While it is true that concentrating on the individual house is socially irresponsible...the little house should not be scorned." Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, Some Houses of Ill-Repute, essay 1971.
Studio 07: Looking Outwards
Robert Barnes and Dr Bo Tang
Studio 07 offers students the opportunity to engage in a transitional setting in Europe; a migrant gateway for refugees in Eleonas, Athens, Greece.
Studio 09: The Foundation: Private Realms, Public Rooms
Jillian Jones, Ewan Stone with David Howarth
Studio 09 are interested in how buildings engage with the public life of the city. We will be working in London and Venice, examining the evolution of domestic architecture from places of living to spaces for exhibition and display.
Studio 10: Both Directions at Once: Architecture After Brexit
Kieran Thomas Wardle and Owain Williams
What will be the Architecture of Brexit? How can the way we build represent a democracy pulling in both directions at once? A flawed memory of the past and an imagined future are the basis of many voter’s reasoning for voting in the 2016 EU referendum. We will be visiting historic buildings around the UK to reimagine defunct architectures to offer a commentary on the divergent identities emerging across the UK, looking to the past to say something surprising about the future.