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 RCA 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 (2012-18) and Head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture (2000-11).
Poetics of Habitation and a 4th Nature?
Using London and Beijing as our test beds, DS(3)7 explores novel ideas of housing and poetics of habitation. We draw inspiration from the Smithson’s phrase ‘art of inhabitation’ and the Chinese philosophy of ‘poetics of habitat’. This embodies our comparative approach in search of new ideas that address increasingly shared global issues.
Our work this year constitutes a radical re-imagining of the relationship between dwelling and nature. We ask how this relationship can be reshaped in the age of the Anthropocene, where human dominion over nature has led to catastrophic consequences for both ourselves and the natural world we are a part of.
In Semester 1, we used Somers Town in London as the site for a new prototype for how nature and dwelling can find new forms of co-existence. A living laboratory of historic housing innovation, our prototypes drew inspiration from the urban morphology of Somers Town, as well as existing expressions of nature. Through these experimentations, we also questioned the definition of nature as it pertains to the poetics of living.
In Semester 2, the prototypical ideas from London were adapted, expanded and tested in Beijing, in an area in the city centre where historic Hutong courtyards and utilitarian housing blocks meet Zaha Hadid’s futuristic office hub. Working remotely in a different cultural and aesthetic context, utilising calligraphy workshops and museum visits, the students developed a series of comprehensive housing proposals that offered both programmatic innovation and tectonic novelty, leading to new and radical re- synchronisations between dwellings and nature.