In his 1978 retrospective manifesto for Manhattan, Rem Koolhaas declares himself as the ghost-writer for the ‘mythical island’, imagining playful journeys through the city’s history. He posits that his visionary theory of ‘Manhattanism’ was born on Coney Island, the ‘Metropolis of the Irrational’, which became a laboratory to test the strategies and mechanisms that later informed and shaped Manhattan.
London could also be termed ‘Metropolis of the Irrational’. This year we want to celebrate London. It’s energy, it’s people, its diversity, its culture (s), and the delirious experience that is London.
Unit 6 is a laboratory for speculation and imagination. We look to real and unreal narratives and stories to provide a launching pad for creative ideas and journeys that can culminate in fantastical, reactionary, mischievous and joyful architectures and environments. We will encourage you to develop a language and means of representation that is specific to your architecture. We see drawings as more than an instruction to build – they are the space to project your imagination and experiences. We will experiment with scale and craft, hybridised analogue and digital medias, and model making, to allow the audience to experience the imagination of your architecture.
Reimagining the South Bank
We will research the multiple layers (social, cultural, historical or political) of London to propose an architecture that celebrates an aspect of London. The site is the South Bank, an area which has undergone a number of transformations: from its origins as marsh land consumed by water at high tide; to the demolition of a huge swathe of land to host the Festival of Britain in 1951; to the arts and entertainment centre we recognise today.
Much like Britain’s New Towns, the Festival of Britain was a concerted attempt to define Great Britain’s place within the world following the war, and not without its criticisms. It provided a utopian view of how Britain’s innovation and expertise in science, technology, industry and architecture could contribute to and shape its future. It was a microcosm of a ‘new’ place that brought a sense of identity and consciousness to London and GB.
Project 1 –Inspiring London
You will become London’s ghost-writer. Students will seek out an element of London that inspires them. This could be a book, a writer, an incident, an inventor, a story, a film, its history, an artifact, its peoples, its diversity or the site itself – all elements that forms the multiple layers that make up our delirious London.
The outcome of the search for the inspiration will be the design of a ‘fragment’ of your proposed architecture. This could be a mechanism, a door, a window, a threshold, an artifact etc.
Project 1 will provide you with a working method that informs the language and principles of the main building in Project 2.
Project 2 – A Building for London
In the spirit of the Festival, students in Unit 6 will propose a new public building situated on the South Bank that will contribute to and celebrate a socially, culturally and politically vibrant future London.
2nd years will propose a building on the river the site opposite Royal Festival Hall. It will be a new Civic Centre for the community, and a catalyst for the future transformation of the South Bank.
3rd years will build on investigations and research from Project 1 to develop an appropriately complex public building. A site should be chosen on the South Bank that can support and enhance the proposed building programme.