YEAR 2 – DS2.1
Tutors: Corinna Dean and Ursula Dimitriou
Corinna Dean is a member of the Emerging Territories Research Group. She founded the Archive for Rural Contemporary Architecture ARCA, and publishing Slacklands. Her current research looks at narratives around contamination in the River Lea, for which she is contributing to the British Council Gender Ecologies project in collaboration with a creative team from Pakistan.
Ursula Dimitriou is a practicing architect and researcher. Her fields of expertise are public space, commons, design and social sustainability, grassroots urban practices, theatrical and ephemeral practices in the urban space. She is the co-director of studio SYN.
Students were invited to respond to the proposition: How do we work with the natural environment in a way which will engage ideas of empathy and custodianship?
In Semester 1, students mapped and observed the post- industrial areas around the Lea Bridge Road, Hackney Marsh. The former Thames Water Depot site provided an area in which to explore new relationships between urbanism, human and the environment.
Students created programmes to design a ‘Gatehouse’ or ‘Threshold’ building which incorporated a Zone/Room, inspired by the apocryphal film Stalker (A.Tarkovsky, 1979) as well as bridging two conditions on the site. Using a Tipper or Detonator, with reference to Anna Tsing’s Feral Atlas, students described an environmental shift against which they would respond with an imagined threshold condition.
In Semester 2, we turned our focus to ecology and the relationship between nature and the urban. The students referenced The Word for World is Forest, (Ursula Le Guin, 1976), the sci-fi novel about a future environmental interplanetary struggle, which responds to a positive vision for Urban Ecologies. The students were inspired to create multi-programmatic designs around themes of governance for human and non-human agency.
In developing design strategies, the students focused on materials: how they are extracted, moulded, applied and broken down in the case of concrete and aggregates, and potentially put back into the landscape. They also investigated creating their own materials using Hogweed and other organic materials from the site.
Moving from the urban scale to the micro scale of material engagement, our methods included site mapping, analysis, modelling and casting.