MArch Unit 20 :: Dark Age – Clouded Futures :: David Hemingway / Jake Moulson

“We are entering a new Dark Age. We find ourselves today connected to vast repositories of knowledge, and yet we have not learned to think. In fact, the opposite is true: that which was intended to enlighten the world in practice darkens it. We have been conditioned to think of the darkness as a place of danger, even death. But the darkness can also be a place of freedom and possibility, a place of equality. We have much to learn about unknowing. Uncertainty can be productive, even sublime.”

  • James Bridle the New Dark Age, Technology and the end of the future.


As we are all increasingly navigated by algorithmic certainties and unknowable volumes of information, what changes our relation to the object, its housing, and distribution. Can our relationship outside of the cloud give new or altered meanings to our existence? What are the consequences for architecture?

Unit 20 will be collecting and creating, recording, observing alternative archives to elucidate and reflect on what it is to be human, animal, vegetal, or post human.


With this comes danger. In an increasingly authoritarian world the framing of records can be used to reinforce post-factual unrealities but equally a re-viewing of material can reveal new histories of the under represented.

How can these critical repositories through which human cultures came to be shared, studied, and conserved begin to reassemble understandings within a world threatened by anthropogenic transformation?


Instability risks the security of our heritage. As new architectural typologies develop we prompt enquiry into the scale of the institution of these priceless archives and collections from the new megastructures of the micro/macro digital archive to the vast Freeport of the art market tax haven.


We will speculate on this near/present future through the historic context of Florence, from the autocracy and conspiracies of the Medici to the residue of the Italian avant guard who sort to archive their own performances and actions as political acts of defiance in an attempt to incite new histories.


‘Dark Age’ will be filtered through 4 lines of enquiry;


Permeability-Opacity 01

Autocracies, Corporatocracies. What are the boundaries, borders and jurisdictions of the freeports, of the clouds. Who are the guardians and where is architecture positioned in this post-truth and in part post-human landscape.


Dispersion 02

How is knowledge and history dispersed and preserved, migrations, refugees, collapsed states, climatic and economical change perpetuate this flow.


Uselessness 03

Redundancy and obsolescence, the new geological layer of the technofossil, ruins of the industrial age, the post human consequences of automation.


Superfluity 04

The Freeport  tax heaven, some £100billion of arts and artefacts lie archived and concealed as commodity. Socio economic status access to education, medicines, clean air, overproduction and over population.


Project 1 Diminishing Knowledge


Year 1 students will place, define and investigate/test proposals within the fabric of the city, developing programme through the lens of the brief and the 4 filters, applying contemporary/local political or environmental factors influential to a chosen collection/archive. Projects are to be sited in either Venice, Florence or London.  Yr 2 Will develop enquires into the ‘Dark Age’. Is there an antithesis to this relocation of knowledge of these stateless post-human infrastructures and controls?


Project 2 Archive as Catalyst


Yr1students will now develop building design, materiality, fabrication framed by the themes of project 1.

Yr2 Will continue investigation into site and scale of proposals, informed by their thesis.

***Image: Children of Men 2006, David relocated to Tate Modern as civil war rages