Design Studio 23

Master of Architecture (MArch RIBA Part 2)

Tutors: Richard Difford, François Girardin, and David Scott

DS23 is led by three experienced tutors each of whom brings a different set of skills and knowledge to the studio.

Richard Difford is an academic with expertise both in creative technologies and architectural history. His teaching focuses on architectural representation, the history of science and mathematics, and the use of electronics and coding in architectural design.

François Girardin has extensive international experience in architecture and is currently involved in teaching design and cultural context. He has specialist interests in material technologies and digital fabrication.

David Scott is an academic and Director of the Fabrication Lab. His interests are in the transformative application of digital technologies to architectural design.

The Spatial Dynamics of Architecture

Homogenous space and homogenous time […] express, in an abstract form, the double work of solidification and of division which we effect on the moving continuity of the real in order to obtain there a fulcrum for our action, in order to fix within it starting points for our operation, in short, to introduce into it real changes.

Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, 1896

It goes without saying that the activities that determine a building’s function also shape its design. But the nature and form of those activities, seen in terms of movements and actions, can also be a source of inspiration and formal expression.Taking this as our starting point, this year DS23 explored the way the recording, representation and expression of movement could inspire new forms of architectural expression and programmatic response.

Our field trip was to the Flemish city of Antwerp. Bordering the Dutch province of Zeeland, Antwerp sits in a unique wider landscape in which a fragile balance is struck between land and sea. But the diverse range of conditions of the Westerschelde estuary has also been commercially exploited. The mediaeval city centre makes visible the historic significance of this geography, which continues today; Antwerp is home to one of the largest ports in Europe, as well as being the centre of the world diamond trade.

A location rich in history and culture, we were able to investigate the landscape, social context and economics of this fascinating city. And although centred around the port, Antwerp has afforded a broad range of programmatic opportunities. Seeded by an analysis and investigation of movement in different spheres of human activity, nature and machines, projects have developed from the ground up and have responded directly to the vibrant cultural, commercial and industrial activities to which Antwerp plays host. In the face of climate change and rising sea levels in a city dominated by river and port, many of these projects also look at new ways in which architecture can address the water.

Archive of DS23’s work from previous years:

MArch DS23 2017-2018

MArch DS23 2018-2019

MArch DS23 2019-2020

MArch DS23 2020-2021

MArch DS23 2021-2022