“More even than the work of great architects, I loved buildings that grew silently with the centuries, catching and keeping the best of each generation, while time curbed the artist’s pride and the Philistine’s vulgarity, and repaired the clumsiness of the dull workman.”
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
This year we turn our gaze to some of the oldest institutions in the world, places that will become your home for several formative years in the pursuit of ‘higher education’ – universities. We will be posing the simple question – how do we build well?
The most enduring universities emerged from the building form of Cistercian monasteries such as Le Thoronet Abbey in southern France. Clusters of interconnecting quadrangles at once define a spatial and organisational logic for rooms within a college whilst contributing significantly to cities' urban streetscape and civic qualities.
Longevity does not necessarily rely upon static and unwavering edifices. Waugh conjures the provocative image of building as an almost accidental accumulation of comfort and patina, more grown than conceived. Even the most ancient buildings undergo a process of repair, remaking, or as Ruskin put it ‘changefulness’.
Sir Alex Gorden’s popular mantra of the 70’s ‘long life, loose fit’ provokes reflection on how buildings might be as generic, flexible and ‘loose fitting’ as possible, inviting the resourcefulness and improvisation of successive generations to impress their own ideals.
Studio 11 will explore universal forms of architecture, built to stand the test of time and will challenge students to conceive a new university building on a constrained urban site to house academic communities and unknown pursuits for centuries to come, embodying values of academic freedom, critical enquiry, and institutional autonomy; a building of long life and low specificity, timeless and changeful.
The year will begin with short intensive drawing, photography and model-making workshops with students exploring both new and old buildings forming the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Our main trip will take us to visit Cistercian monasteries in Belgium, the great work of the architect monk Dom Hans van der Laan, St Benedictusberg Abbey and the celebrated works of Marie-José Van Hee in Ghent.
Studio 01: The Gesture of a Building
Alex Bank and Sam Casswell
Studio 01 is looking at the contribution architecture makes to the life of a place.
Studio 02: After City: Assemblage, Incrementalism and Infrastructures
Colin O’Sullivan and Charlotte Harris
Studio 02 will examine and propose design interventions in Germany this year.
Studio 03: Crossing Cultures – Re-thinking Campus
Sandra Denicke-Polcher and Jane McAllister
Studio 03 is concerned with architecture as a form of agency, involving civic making through practice.
Studio 04: Place for Play
Anna Ludwig and Rufus Willis
Studio 04 is looking at how the space of play has coexisted and still coexists with spaces of exchange and circulation, political space and cultural space.
Studio 06: Collaborations
Andrew Jackson, David Leech and Martin Nässén
Studio 06 will focus on the theme of ‘Collaborations’ and continue to investigate the ideas established by the studio in recent years and will again work with good examples of historic and contemporary architecture.
Studio 07: FIT
Robert Barnes and Bo Tang
Studio 07 will be basing this year’s work in Athens, Greece as both a continuation and new departure for the Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources.
Studio 08: good growth
Gareth Morris and Ulrike Steven
This year Studio 08 will be responding to the Mayor of London’s call to create a ‘City for All Londoners’ based on the principles of ‘good growth’ – ‘development that is socially, environmentally and economically inclusive.’
Studio 09: Public Rooms, Convergent Spaces
Jillian Jones, Ewan Stone and David Howarth
Studio 09 will look to how new spaces for cultural and community provision in London’s East End can be more locally generated.
Studio 10: Old, New, Hot and Cool
Kieran Thomas Wardle and Owain Williams
Studio 10 will propose buildings which are old, new, hot and cool and develop architectural projects which sit between these definitions to explore the role of the architect as a critical agent in society.