In an attempt to look more thoughtfully at ourselves and what we represent in this unstable time, the studio will make propositions for a new architecture school for The Cass at its site in Aldgate. The year’s work will focus on a transformation of the existing buildings, which are themselves conversions from previous uses. The project will look at the potential of the existing structures, and how they can be enlarged and improved to make a permanent home for The Cass at Aldgate. Students will make proposals for an exemplary and representational university building in a rich and interesting part of the city.
The idea of transformation will be the subject of the year’s work. In the European city, everything involves changing what already exists, every architectural project is a form of rebuilding. We will explore the ethics and aesthetics of transformation; the deep, almost alchemical, process of re-use and reinterpretation which enables and expresses the continuing development of urban life. Learning from many examples, we will show how a respect for found things, and an enjoyment of the act of overlaying and accumulation in the history of a building, can lead to architecture as diverse, spirited and radical as any new structure.
The transformation of The Cass will be the medium of this exploration; reusing, extending and building upon the existing structure, in a more eloquent and idealistic version of itself. At the beginning, we will examine how the School and the teaching works now, and each student will prepare their own brief for how teaching at The Cass should work today. We will look at examples of architecture schools from the twentieth century where the building represents the teaching philosophy of the School, and make our own versions. We will involve the whole School in this endeavour, inviting teachers and other students to join a conversation about what the School should be.
In November the studio will travel by train to Berlin via Cologne, to visit historic and contemporary examples of reconstruction and reuse in the transformation of the metropolitan city.
Image: Gordon Matta Clark, Conical Intersect, 1975
Architecture Postgraduate studios
Unit 02: Low in energy, high in style
Tony Fretton and Katherine Nolan
1. In a location in Regents Park: Design an Embassy, consisting of a Residence, the house of the Ambassador, and a Chancellery, as well as the offices of the Embassy. 2. Concurrently, study aspects of the location, and an architect from a list given.
Unit 04: The Space of Event
Nate Kolbe, Jonas Lundberg, Andrew Grant
Our course of study and proposition takes on the mutable and adaptable spatial and architectural strategies around events, gatherings, demonstrations, spectacles and large-scale societal interchange.
Unit 05: The tectonic language of timber
Alex Ely and Michael Dillon
This year’s programme considers the implication construction methods and materials have on the landscape. We will explore the tectonics of timber construction to form tactile and expressive collective housing, buildings with a civic gravitas and urban gardens. Cement is prohibited.
Unit 06: Arrival City
Professor Maurice Mitchell, Dr Bo Tang, Jane McAllister and Sandra Denicke-Polcher
This year Unit 06 will focus on the contribution that architecture can make to the integration of refugees into a host community. Students will be offered a choice of: Athens, Greece; Calabria, Italy; or Freetown, Sierra Leone (Year 5 only). All three are migrant gateways, and transitional settlements for the uprooted.
Unit 07: Absurd Pragmatism: Pragmatic Absurdism
David Grandorge and Colin Wharry
This year’s major design project, run in parallel to a program taught by Professor Geir Brendeland to students at NTNU, will address the future life of a former submarine bunker - Dora II - in Trondheim, Norway. The Unit has also been invited by the city to design and build an ambitious timber structure within the bunker that will perform the dual functions of exhibition space for archival photographs and a gathering place for organized and more informal events.
Unit 08: Lightness and Weight
Takero Shimazaki, Paolo Emilio Pisano and Karabo Turner
Unit 08 will explore lightness in architecture, crucially as a disposition that favours touching the earth lightly. We will pursue an architecture that is irreducible – one containing urbanity and continuity within the lightness of its approach. We will propose buildings with a civic dimension in the complex urban fabric of Battersea, overlaying education and public use within a singular project, and deploying lightness and weight toward a renewed civic life.
Unit 09: Between room and city
Stephen Taylor and Theodoros Thysiades
This year Unit 09 will explore the potential of the architectural facade to make a meaningful contribution to the streets of London. Against a current of introverted and commercially minded co-working and co-living developments, that have emerged across the city in recent times, our design research will investigate the design of buildings with a figurative presence on the street and of spaces that promote social interaction and collaboration for living and working.
Unit 12: Everything is Transformation
Peter St John, Fabienne Sommer, Ben Speltz and James Hand
The studio will make propositions for a new architecture school for The Cass at its site in Aldgate. The year’s work will focus on a transformation of the existing buildings.
Unit 14: Mad about Barking [and Dagenham]
Pierre d’Avoine and Pereen d'Avoine
Unit 14 has been invited by Barking and Dagenham Council to work in the borough again this academic year, after a highly successful collaboration last year researching and making proposals for the newly formed Creative Enterprise Zone along the River Roding. This year we invite students to speculate on what constitutes an inclusive public realm and to design scenarios for exchange which impact positively on the extensive new mainly commercial development under construction in the borough.
Unit 15: The Land We Live In
Assemble w/ OMMX
Unit 15 will explore how architecture can respond to challenges facing society and the environment today through collaborative research and projects in Bridport, Dorset. Working with the local think-tank Stir to Action, Wessex Community Assets and the environmental arts group Common Ground, we will use detailed contextual research and material investigations to develop projects on two sites – the first in an industrial context in the town and the second on a rural site on the edge of Bridport.