YEAR THREE – DS3.7
Tutors: John Zhang and David Porter
John Zhang is an architect and academic. He runs Studio JZ, was previously an associate at award winning practice DSDHA, and holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art on the topic of contemporary Chinese architecture.
David Porter is an architect, urbanist and educator. He was a partner of David Porter Neave Brown Architects. He was Professor of Architecture at the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing (2012-8) and Head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the Glasgow School of Art (2000-11).
Poetics of Habitation in Times of Coronavirus
Heidegger believed that to live authentically, we must dwell poetically. This position finds resonance in Chinese philosophy, where the ‘poetics of habitat’ is the ultimate state of being, or yijing.
The pandemic has thrown into focus the inadequacies of our housing provision and the change to the meaning of the home. Can we turn the crisis itself into the very project of the architecture of the city?
This year DS3.7 has been exploring how we can still dwell poetically in times of coronavirus. This exploration took place between London and Beijing, where we searched for new ideas of housing that addresses increasingly shared global issues. We constantly questioned what it takes to think in context, posed as a general problem in human thought and as a particular problem for architects.
In Semester 1, we worked in consultation with BeFirst Barking and Dagenham, the local authority’s housing provider, to develop alternative visions for a new gateway housing complex as part of the Gascoigne Estate regeneration plan. The students were asked to develop a strategic proposal that offered an innovative programmatic narrative and a novel tectonic approach, which will ensure the long-term sustainability of the local community whilst responding to the emergent patterns of new residential demands in these extraordinary times.
In Semester 2, working remotely and utilising the lessons learned in London, the students work on the development of a comprehensive architectural proposal for a housing scheme in central Beijing, in a vacant site that straddled the traditional Hutong alleys and gated housing block complexes. Acutely aware that we were working on a place we could not visit due to lockdown, the studio was particularly interested in exploring his reality can be analysed and mediated through systems of representation, in particular through traditional Chinese paintings.