YEAR THREE – DS3.6
Tutors: Camilla Wilkinson and Kester Rattenbury
Camilla Wilkinson is an architect and lecturer. She has worked in high profile practices in Germany and the UK. Camilla makes research and lectures on the 1914-18 war camouflage system Dazzle Painting.
Kester Rattenbury is an architectural writer and critic, and Professor of Architecture, founder of the EXP research group and its projects the Archigram Archival Project and Supercrits. Her latest book is The Wessex Project: Thomas Hardy Architect.
DS(3)6 combines speculative, strategic projects with acts of imagination, where architecture is produced by experimentation, improvisation and (partly) by chance – just like life.
Radical Re-use/Camden Backlands: What on earth do we think we’re doing?
Like all the studios we invited students to challenge the government’s slogan ‘Build Back Better’ through alternative site strategies for Camden’s backlands. Working in groups, students invented strategic proposals for West Kentish Town, an area of social housing communities and green spaces that have been the centre of grassroots community action and innovative architectural ideas since the 1950s, and the remaining industrial pockets of Camley Street. Both are unique sites facing the current norms of high-density urban redevelopment. We asked students to explore, test and challenge Camden Council’s Community Investment plan, and look for more effective and generous ways to proceed, working with what is found on site.
We challenged students to apply radical re-use of materials and ideas – recycling of buildings, sites and strategies – in order to face the unexpected present. We asked them to do a lot more with a lot less. To learn as they went along; learning from mistakes and unexpected successes and from each other. Through trial and error.
Brief 1: Dramascape
Students were asked to design a provocation, installation or adaptation combining things made in the studio with the conditions found in Camden’s backlands. We started with random making and drawing, weekly exhibitions, mutual criticism and development and made technical drawings of unexpected components. We gradually introduced site investigation and worked in teams to create site-wide strategies.
Brief 2: Radical Adaptation
Students worked on individual proposals for some radical adaptations of existing buildings which introduce cultural activities to the sites to incorporate or extend existing programmes; testing the sites to see how, whether, why, and what to ‘Build Back Better’. Talacre Sports Centre and Gardens receives a circus school and big top; Carlton Primary School becomes a city farm in a future-wilded West Kentish Town; and Camden’s vision of Camley Street as a food centre is re-visioned as a fish and meat market around a water-recycling swale.