BA Unit 6: The Great Outdoors. Matt Chan & Emily Yeung

Our Glacial Perspectives, Studio Olafur Eliasson, 2020

We often associate the outdoors with a romantic picture of flora and fauna, serene scenes, and an untamed wilderness. More so than ever since the pandemic, the outdoors is associated with an image of freedom, discovery, exploration, health, and well-being.

But what exactly is this great outdoors? Is it as simple as the experiential transition in volume to open air or an unpredictable and fragile living organism we live with? Could nature be an archive preserved in recognisable urban nests of national parks and manicured gardens and landscapes in and amongst the urban concrete blocks?

Unit 6 seeks to explore how architecture can respond to the boundary between the urban and access to the outdoors.

Our methodology
active testing and physical making on site, accompanied by precise communicative architectural drawings that convey sensitivity and underlying narratives. We encourage test models, fragments, and installations in the design process to fully understand your designs’ physical, tactile, and spatial impact.

You will invent devices and testbeds that capture nature’s haptic qualities and map and record these ephemeral moments. We advocate using an atypical palette of materials in creative ways to capture specific personal sentiment and spatial qualities for the early investigations. Ellie Davies’ shelters from found objects, Shin Egashira’s Koshirakura landscape workshop, Kengo Kuma’s nail-less constructions, and Asif Khan’s cloud machine exemplify the aspired scale and complexity.

Urban and alpine areas are socio- economically connected, whether through the exchange of goods, tourism, or other various cycles that inevitably form tangible and invisible boundaries. Should access to nature be defined by strict boundaries of preservation, whereby everything is sealed and admired, or do we consider co-habitation, or perhaps even harvesting nature and mimicking naturally occurring phenomena?

With urban populations more inclined to travel out of town and increased over-tourism to nature reserves, this brief calls to investigate how architecture can bridge access to the great outdoors, inevitably questioning diversity, construction, and socio-political topics ownership through the built environment.