Design Studio 15


Tutors: Sean Griffiths & Kester Rattenbury

Sean Griffiths is an artist and architect. He was a founder and director of the practice FAT, and now practices as Modern Architect, undertaking gallery-based installations, public art works and architectural projects.

Kester Rattenbury is an architect and writer. She is the author of This Is Not Architecture, the Supercrit Series (with Samantha Hardingham), she led the Archigram Archival Project, and her new book The Wessex Project, Thomas Hardy Architect is due out in November 2017.

The Really, Really Real.

In a world distorted by fake news, fabricated by machines, augmented by technology, where true and fake are impossible to tell apart, how might we engage with the Real?

DS15 is an experimental studio which draws heavily on creative currents in fine art, music and philosophy. We develop innovative, creative techniques that use chance, gaming, technology and indeterminacy in the design of buildings, to create new and unexpected objects, drawings and ways of working. We aim to stimulate new forms of individual and collective practice.

Inspired by the ideas of avant-garde musical composers like John Cage and Morton Feldman, we have adapted their methods to the design of architectural objects, processes, assemblages and compositions. Sometimes we make music. Sometimes we write poems. Sometimes we invent performances. This year we will be refining these techniques and exploring how they might be incorporated into digital as well as analogue fabrication.

We work in the studio, in the Fab Lab, on site, and in the university’s large basement exhibition space, P3. We make real things at 1:1, and incorporate them into architectural projects. We have pin-ups every week, crits and performances in different locations around the university and make pop-up exhibitions in P3.

In DS15, the students develop a rich understanding of things-in-themselves, learning to grasp the real nature of objects. They learn to articulately describe and criticise their own and others’ work, to improvise and to challenge, test and assemble their work as a design project in an ambitious and beautiful portfolio.

DS15 is a collective enterprise. As well as designing our own things, we become each other’s clients, contractors and collaborators. We make experimental drawings and notations testing the boundaries of architectural representation and instruction. We engage with all the senses. We share, swap and remake each other’s work. We make accidental assemblages of multiple objects containing many people’s things. We make catalogues of parts that everyone can use.

The project is a residential technical college set in Barking Riverside. A collective masterplan will be developed – and formally and programmatically disrupted using chance operations. The students will use chance and ancient Chinese wisdom to create unique architectural parts and strange compositions. It will mix high theory and absolute pragmatism. The students will be helped along the way by a series of special guest stars who will teach them about music, gaming, modern technology, virtual reality, dance and all kinds of fabrication.

The field trip will be a train journey through France taking in housing, monasteries, design schools and other delights of architectural collectivity.

It will be challenging. It will be exhilarating. It will change you forever.