Unit One is fascinated by the poetic quality of architecture expressed through materials and structure; how the controlled design of load-bearing elements and construction impacts on emotional experience. At the heart of our work is an interest in making places to live that encourage both shared communal interaction and peaceful refuge, and the wider relationship of the civic and personal in the city.
The Unit sees architectural precedent as a source of inspiration and a rich practical resource to employ in our proposals. We work to reveal urban conditions and building composition through refined creative studies, and use the resulting interpretations to establish the basis of new design languages. Through this practice we place special value on the craft of constructing thoughtful drawings and models to explore places and ideas in depth.
This year we will address issues of over-consumption and waste ever-present in the production of buildings. As a unit we want to critically explore contemporary forms of making buildings both structurally and spatially, to challenge regulatory restrictions and material waste. We will reuse constructions, typologies and ideas that are faced with redundancy and provocatively propose new ways of making buildings and civic space.
Unit One is structured by a clear framework of design and investigative methods, within which each student should develop their own interests and techniques. Workshops throughout the year will focus on core analogue and digital skills as tools to achieve the particular feeling and performance of space required. Students are encouraged to work in the studio so that these techniques can be discussed and tested within the group.
/ Precise, large scale model making
/ High quality photography
/ Testing atmospheric qualities with vignette studies
/ Creative use of orthogonal drawing
/ Site surveying and appreciation of context
/ Translating an understanding of precedents into practical design tools
/ Testing the architectural potential of structural systems, proportions and geometries
/ Modelling thresholds and openings, spatial sequence and pathways
/ Diagraming programmatic strategies
/ Hands-on research into real materials and their capacities to support unique spaces
/ Physical investigations to support understanding of production processes in contemporary construction
/ Building an architectural grammar to deploy in new buildings
/ Using rituals as catalysts for design decisions
Each student will make a portfolio that represents one single research project. This will be composed of two parts: an initial task will establish areas of interest and test design processes; the major design investigation will develop these to a creative resolution through the proposition of a new building.
The projects will all engage with the question of how we can transform, adapt or extend our building stock to provide ambitious new forms of housing and infrastructure that enrich the social sphere.
As architects we have a duty to respond to the context in which we practice. How we build our cities reflects how we believe we should live together. We would like to offer clear-eyed, optimistic alternatives to digital superficiality, division, seclusion and material waste.
Part 1 Transformation
Reusing London’s public building stock, we will add layers to given existing buildings to create new spaces that combine public and private use. We will engage with issues of context while working to form an interior of a particular atmosphere.
The first steps in this process will be to explore the material and immaterial qualities of the given site. Students will make composite orthogonal drawings of their experiences, using experimental drawing techniques, overlay and projections. In pairs, precise 1:25 models will be made of a section of the existing building that will become sites of investigation as new places are proposed through making.
Alongside this we will begin to develop shared criteria for assessing the unit’s work by researching the material and spatial qualities of selected building precedents, harvesting ideas for reuse in new proposals.
At the same time we will be searching for a physical language through material testing.
Part 2 A New Typology
The major design investigation will be sited in a densely built area of London. The proposals will address the reuse and recycling of existing typologies that are due to become redundant. New buildings will combine places to live with shared civic functions.
We will continue to develop and deploy architectural grammar founded on a controlled use of structural elements. We will think carefully about the relationship between public and private at a variety of scales, and propose how this can be supported and expressed, whether in an apartment layout, a window design, access strategy or the new edge offered to the street.
Third years will design a proposition to include 3 primary components. Two distinct buildings, one of a dominant scale, and one in a supporting scale, and the space created in between.
Second years will design a single medium scale building, paying particular attention to the relationship it creates between itself and the surrounding city.
We are going to Athens. At the source of Western architecture and civic life we will learn from the relationship of buildings to their context, the forming of public space and the expression of load-bearing structure.