MArch Unit 21 :: Tipping points, towards a Commission of Platforms :: Dr Shaun Murray, Yorgos Loizos, Simon Withers :: 2016/17


‘The world has long been violent, but our ability to view our eternal, inevitable implosions on a 24-hour loop remains relatively new and our radical advances in technology and communication are seemingly moving faster than our behavioural evolution. We are accidents waiting to happen.’ (Gorton, 2016)

Tipping point of the otiose participant

We carry around with us redundant bits of information, through our phones and other devices that can become aggregated together as a collection of disparate parts. Our understanding of the world is based upon fragmented feeds and unauthored articles. This year we want to plex the otiose participant to re-engage their fragmented bits of information towards the design of a theatre through the commission of a platform. We want you to offer architectures where people can participate on multi-levels in multi-times, a place that is constantly being renegotiated through participation and occupation.

Platform as theatre

So what is a platform? True to the word’s roots, a stage (a ‘plot-form’, originally): a structure that can host other activities. Its interface acts as a lever, exploding possible behaviours on the outside while (and because) its interior stays relatively fixed, predictable, committed…It’s in the ruins of the plan that the platform arrives. The concept’s gained force in industrial settings, especially those built around digital tech – Facebook, Google, Weibo, those strange and popular beasts not wholly grasped as a product, a service, or a public resource. (Singleton, 2016)

A platform will be a support for a whole range of future events in your design. The word platform seems to be used a lot these days- there’s talk of digital platforms, like Facebook, and art biennales calling themselves platforms, etc. – but not many people seem to have really explored what it means. The term comes from the theatre, where it referred to the stage where the action takes place: a “plot-form”. A platform is something that plays a foundational role in a system; it allows something else to happen.

Nine Elms (Where and Why):

A massive surge of investment in this stretch of the River Thames has highlighted larger power moves with the siting here of the new American Embassy and the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station. The compelling interrelationships between MI6, the Dutch embassy, the American Embassy and the interest of the Chinese Embassy. Nine Elms is an area of London currently under radical construction in both the physical and virtual realms, this highlighted by the compelling interrelationships between MI6, the Dutch embassy, the American Embassy and the interest of the Chinese Embassy. Historically, the area of Nine Elms is a place of transportation, of importing and

exporting goods in the physical realm through the New Covent Garden Market and in the virtual realm through the re-location of the American Embassy scheduled to be completed by 2017. The site offers the opportunity to study a variety of timelines, from relatively short term everyday migration of goods, to the years-long architectural construction metamorphosis both aesthetical and technological.

Nine Elements on Nine Elms (What):

The nine elements of architecture are an edited suite of the elements that inform architecture. You will be extracting the nine elements from the rigorous initial site research. These should then inform the design of the project by constructing models of combinations of these elements that reveal your curiosity in design.

Time-Based Theatre’s (How):

We will start the year with a three-week detailed study to design a linear park stretching from Lambeth Bridge to Battersea Power Station through a warped perspective drawing. During the first three weeks both Year 4 and Year 5 students will produce:

  1. A large-scale warped perspective drawing.
  2. Three exemplar scaled models of the past, present and future of your discoveries from Nine Elms.
  3. A detailed case-study of a complex theatre.

These three parts will be a prelude to you joining a research cluster composed of Masters and Undergraduate students which will support your research by design, your focus and develop your design proposal.

Augmented Planning Applications

The sensory apparatus, for example, smart phones and health fitness trackers that we carry around us as bits of information will become aggregated together as a collaborative or aggregative building or a cartographic map as a collective intelligence.

We want you to consider the interplay between the physical envelope of the devices in our hands and instrumentations that can produce a different layer, allowing access to this augmented world around us. The idea is that the app only makes sense because of the physical and virtual envelopes, they both seem dependent on each other. They can produce spatial images that interface with this layering; the interface becomes infrastructure for architectures of forms to come.

Year 4: Your projects will be a theatre building in a complex urban environment of Nine Elms Lane. Every student will develop an augmented planning proposal by Christmas through a suite of drawings and modelling.


Year 5: Your projects will be designing a series of architectural interventions along a linear park. You will individually develop a clear proposal and you are encouraged to use your Thesis to advance your understanding of design.



Gorton, Thomas, 2016. Why Radiohead never felt so right in a time of so much wrong. Dazed. [online]Available at:<>[Accessed 20 September 2016]


Singleton, Benedict, 2016. Platform Dynamics. [online] Available at:<>[Accessed 20 September 2016]