MArch Unit 16 : L.A.N.D : Susanne Isa, Simon Herron, N.Elias, Simon Withers

Photo from Apollo 12 Taken at the moon Exhibition 13.9.18 – 20.1.19 @ The Louisianna Museum, Denmark

We are interested in the trans-disciplinary fields of art, architecture, museology and anthropology as a means to explore the psychology of places, narratives of history, mythologies, rituals and magic. The unit focuses upon collections, ecologies, typologies and curation in order to create episodic, surreal and transformational spaces and landscapes.

Working as a research group, students are asked to consider how Architecture adapts to meet the demands and challenges of the 21st century. The Global Climate and Biodiversity emergency is unfolding at a relentless pace. We are now witnessing climate change in real time. Our built environment, stressed by ageing infrastructure and associated supporting systems, alongside inequalities in availability of resources means that we are poorly equipped to cope now let alone the future. This presents a profoundly complex matrix of technical, social, political, economic, moral, and ethical questions confronting us all with the necessity to act on preexisting knowledge to avoid an act of ‘betrayal’ as put by Greta Thunberg.

Unit Sixteen considers there is an imperative need to engage with external disciplines with an understanding of the past and present for the future, investigating underexplored hinterlands and their relationship to the world we live in. Sites can be seen as frontiers, material and immaterial territories, places at the limit of what has been known, a place that is not a place, that is unknown, a place with no indexes, no roads, no signs, no names. By creating an Encyclopaedia of Terrestrial Life Unit Sixteen recognizes there is a need to conserve and preserve there is also a need to rethink. The memory of place and journey are different for different users, and we are interested to discover innovative ways to represent things geographically which can create new territories and landscapes.

This year we will investigate LAND to be considered as a fundamental unit. Land is materially expressible; Land is spatial; Land as unit of measure; Land as an expression of time; Land culturally assigned; Land exploitable for leisure; Land exploitable for capital; Land management.

Explore the following research topics:

01 – Anthropo-technology

Anthropo-technology, a term coined by Peter Sloterdijk describes how technological prosthetics and the merging of bodies and machines are radically altering our sense of self, shifting boundaries of nation(s) as well as our relationships between each other and bodies or ‘clouds’ of knowledge. This looks at the space of duality between technology and the body; of being at home and exile, in transit and stasis, the shifts in the spaces of imagination and how these alter how we draw, make, and represent the scale of the body; in space and the spaces of architecture, landscapes between the object and body in motion.

02 -Transcultural Exchange

Greater connectivity through infrastructure both visible and invisible. Art and biological exchange used to create spaces of multitude, transmutation, fluctuation, and temporality. The pluralism of multiple tongues to create cultural exchange. Narratives from science fiction as speculative paths where science is not fiction. Fractal thinking allows for connections of the personal to the planetary. Alternative histories means working from a corpus of existing conditions for a reavaluation of the now and future.

03 – Memory Institutions

As much as there is a need to conserve and preserve there is also a need to rethink. How does the analogue have a digital afterlife? How is the digital and ‘digital born’ to be preserved? The memory of place and journey are different for different users and we are interested to discover innovative ways to represent things geographically which can create new territories and landscapes. Museums can be factual and fictive, such as the Museum of Jurassic Technology that questions the authenticity of objects and their histories. The V&A’s exhibition ‘A World of Fragile Parts’ looked at the copy and the original in the age of the digital and how this shifts our notion of memory and the institution.

04 – Encyclopaedia of Terrestrial Life

Taking inspiration from ‘the law of good neighbour’ as espoused by Aby Warburg the encyclopedia should have an organic structure for browsing that allows a means of serendipitous discovery. The collected entries are an alphabet and toolbox to be deployed into a body of work.

First Year:

The main building project this year will be a proposal for a new International Soil Research Instituteand Bureau of Land Management,developed out of your individual investigations into the properties of LAND.

Second Year:

Individual research projects to be developed alongside and tangential to your Architectural Thesis developed in term one. The broad thematic of LAND and the precarity faced through development and the impacts of the climate emergency will provide the critical focus. The aim will be to discover new ways of seeing and expressing work as an active research practice.


This year’s fieldwork study trip will explore the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, including Timanfaya National Park.

Weeks 1 to 6:

This is the initial project and the starting point of the year’s research. You will begin by making your own collection, objects, images, tweets, websites, artefacts which will establish the subject area for the project. These will be selected in relation to the four research areas for the year. This project will develop spatial ideas, material investigations and skills. This will be a manual, guide and blueprint.