BA Unit 1: Translations: A Public Life. Benni Allan & Kieran Hawkins

Sigurd Lewerentz, St. Mark’s Church, 1956-64, Stockholm / Palazzo Strozzi, 1538, Florence

Central to our approach as Unit 1 is a shared focus on the emotional potential of construction and material, engagement with urban context and creative interpretation of architectural precedent. We are interested in buildings that provide strong frameworks for social community together with space for private refuge. Prioritising an understanding of mass, void, material character and proportion, we propose buildings that respond to their context and enclose engaging interiors with particular atmospheres. We think about how things will be made as we design them, not after the shape has been set.

We learn from architectural history and precedent studies. The inspiration from this research becomes a practical tool for our own design work through the development of students’ own design-languages.

Our methodology prioritises physical models to explore space and structure, together with drawings and precisely composed vignettes (either digital views or model photographs) to test and tune the atmosphere of spaces.

We will embed environmental strategies into our proposals with clear, long-term, architectural thinking. How can we address the heightening climate crisis while making buildings that offer strong contributions to the common ground of the city? What is the appropriate way for us to respond as architects to the ecological and political crisis that we are now living in?

Constructing new architecture in the city can have both positive and negative impacts, and this can be amplified in today’s capitalist world where so much is privatised. The attitude that an architect brings to issues of public architecture in a privatised city extends to questions of access, diversity, ecology, environmentalism and now pandemics.

This year we will focus on questions related to public buildings in the contemporary city. For centuries public buildings have served the populace as places for enlightenment and refuge. What will public buildings look like in the future and how do they relate to the city? How can we find ways to encourage social-democratic ideals, while making buildings in a country politically dominated by neo-liberal individualism, where increasing segregation and inequality is shamelessly exploited.