YEAR THREE – DS3.2
Tutors: Eric Guibert and Bruce Irwin
Eric Guibert is a gardener architect and teacher. He researches through his built and grown architectural practice ways of co-creating with ecosystems and species regenerative architectures that nurture and express their emergence. This Architectural Animism investigates more equal relationships between humans and their habitats.
Bruce Irwin studied art and architecture at The Bartlett and Rhode Island School of Design. His practice combines design, teaching and curating. He is a founding director of SCAN Projects, a not-for-profit initiative that supports emerging artists.
Continuing our investigations in Feral Architectures, this year we have speculated on future ‘cosmopolitical’ cities (Stenger & Latour) that equally host, and give a voice to, other-than-humans and humans. The briefs form synergetic relationships between the wilded landscape and human communities, providing for a livelihood with a public-facing activity.
Our investigations were based in the periurban context of Epping Forest. This London location led to schemes that respond to the urban – such as the capital’s ecologies and conceiving the forest as a silent night club; or have a national or global context – a Council for the UN Decade on Restoration and research centres focused on genetic engineering for adaptation to climate change. The political dimension has increased through the year, with heated debates embodying the current culture wars between urban and rural communities on the question of ecologically necessary animal culling.
We aimed towards Biodiversity Net Gain. The available space of a periurban forest has led to smaller sites; and their edge-of-forest condition means the area’s development has leant itself to densification, meaning the on-site ecological connectivity is provided more around the buildings than between them. The massing strategies have nonetheless a degree of fragmentation, associated with finger-like typologies and folded or layered edges where the plant, animal and human inhabitants meet. The buildings are located over areas of low biodiversity and often release covered ground for ecological processes to unfold through densification elsewhere on the site.
Many students have been working towards compostable buildings that source materials from the surrounding forest and suburb for both their construction and function: a renewable energy sport centre; a workshop recycling local organic and building waste to densify the suburb.
The designs all respond to the varied conditions of Epping Forest: the regenerative worldling approach has productively led to fractal connectivities; the peri- urban condition has led to denser, multiscale green infrastructures; while the systemic connections between landscape, communities and economies are more national and international.