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.

What’s the point if we can’t have fun?

DS15 is a studio that does playful but rigorous forms of experimentation which encompass chance, speculative drawing, making, games, performance, collaboration and sounds. We generate new creative processes and alternative ways of thinking about architectural objects and collective programmes.

We want to revolutionise the way you think about architecture and to give you a spectacular array of tools to generate ideas out of nothing. Our ways of working are speculative and practical, immediate and philosophical, individual and collaborative. We explore the true nature of objects, the complexities of politics and the aesthetics of material phenomena, avoiding the fake narratives and spurious metaphors that debilitate current architectural culture. In DS15 you get to discover that the poetics of the really, really real are strange and wonderful enough without the need for these feeble crutches.

This year, we will pitch headlong and optimistically into the biggest challenges of our times – the climate emergency, the pandemic, the collapse of conventional politics – and ask what these things mean for the way we live, the buildings we live in and the way we go about making them.

Our project will be a break out from that most restrictive of building types – the prison at Wormwood Scrubs. We will be inventing a new programme for it while emptying it out, opening it up, stripping it back, making new incisions, re-inhabit- ing its ruins with weird objects, strange behaviours and haunting sounds in order to speculate on new forms of collective living, working, education and communal life.

Radical retrofit, partial demolition, reuse, building over, onto, around and inside the existing, harnessing the embodied, encouraging new behaviours, using objects, performances and sounds that simulate and articulate the unstable reprogramming of our daily lives in these strange times. These will be our tactics, all driven by chance, and collaborative experimentation, with a little help from the composer, John Cage and the Chinese book of wisdom, I Ching .

We have no idea what any of this will look like but if you’re aesthetically incontinent, politically engaged and intellectually curious, come and help us find out. In the words of the late activist and writer, David Graeber:

“What’s the point, if we can’t have fun?”.

Archive of DS15’s work from previous years:

MArch DS15 2016-2017

MArch DS15 2017-2018

MArch DS15 2018-2019

MArch DS15 2019-2020