BA Unit 3: Alchemy. George King, Irene Astrain & Yeena Yoon

Ole Worm’s Cabinet of Curiosities, from Museum Wormianum, 1655

This year Unit 3 will continue its fascination with the intersection of craft and technology, the real and the virtual and the digital and the analogue by exploring the concept of alchemy.

Alchemy is the ancient process of turning base materials into precious objects. Early forms of alchemy evolved through the necessity of trade and art, and led to key advancements in numerous manufacturing processes including metal work, glass, soaps and dyes. For early alchemists the transformations taking place in front of their eyes were explained through magic with potions and incantations used to perfect their skill.

Our alchemy process will simultaneously take place at an architectural scale in order to elevate the functions of the buildings we create. Inspired by a visit to Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s Crossness Pumping Station, we will explore how the concept of alchemy can be used to transform a base, everyday or utilitarian function or program into something exceptional by revealing its secrets and celebrating its processes.