We can be skeptical about how this sudden and immense increase of our digital presence will play out against physical experience in the near future. Yet, the digitisation and exhibition of so much material is not from a want to live online; rather, it speaks of our nostalgia for life and work as they were before isolation, and of our desire to have back as much as possible of them, in any form.
This year, the essays and dissertations from Critical and Contextual Studies are exhibited together with work from the postgraduate History and Theory modules. We have held conversations about the resonant issues of the past few months, from Black Lives Matter, to the future of the physical classroom, and have included provocations by writers, artists, architects and alumni for contextualization, dialogue and expansion. The work is organized in seven thematic sections, which speak to recent events, home and migration, place, digital experience, learning, proto-modern architecture, and memory. There is a perceptible progression from topical issues towards writing that allows time to expand in the mind of the reader — how else to approach the task of thinking about space from confinement?
“I spoke to the minister. He's not entirely happy with your efforts. These priests are inciting thousands of people to rebellion! What do you do about it, captain?” (Agnieszka Holland, To Kill a Priest)
If you like the work on this page and would like to start a Masters Degree in Architectural History, Research and Writing, click here to read more about the modules, the tutors, enrolment and fees.
This course is ideal for those who want to continue into a PhD, pursue a career in journalism, enhance the research element in their architectural practice, or simply learn more about architecture, its settings, rituals and allied arts.
Applications are still open for September 2020 read more
Provocations: Ibrahim Mahama, How to Build a Parliament with a Literal Pool of Ideas
“The Parliament of Ghosts is a place of many gatherings using the failures of history as a starting point of artistic production.”
“Temporary loans, especially in the case of the Benin bronzes, are just a method for European nations to regain their appearance as just societies, while they maintain their position of power and take turns in exercising control.”
Provocations: Dr Denis Maeder – On Progress
Where to go with the idea of progress? The lecture proposes five ways in which we could look at progress anew, without losing hope in one of the central, but also heavily attacked ideas of the Enlightenment.
“A deliveryman said he was waiting next to a huge Chinese building, which led to some misunderstanding. I found his lorry in the end, parked on this street. For a while, I was confused as to where this huge Chinese building is.”
First thoughts after the announcement that 'Sir John Cass' is removed from the name of the School of Art, Architecture and Design.
II. Elsewhere, within here
Tales of migration and refugeeism are set off against versions of domesticity. Both speak to shifting notions of ‘home’. The narrators/subjects have to “constantly negotiate between home and abroad, native culture and adopted culture, or more creatively speaking, between a here, a there, and an elsewhere.” (Trinh T. Minh-ha, Elsewhere, Within Here)
Michela De Santes – Migration and Integration in Venice
“While the city and its non-transparent politics do not welcome immigrants, immigrant artists are invited to talk about it. Venice is prepared to be the cultural stage for immigrants’ stories, but not a paradigm of integration.”
Nomination, Best Architecture Dissertation 2020
Excerpt read by Michela De Santes
Caroline Bergvall, Drift (2014)
“The fog was so dense that they lost all sense of direction and lost their course at sea . . ." read more
“To push the concept of domesticity in the nineteenth-century, it was necessary for the Dutch nation to believe that all was well on the seventeenth-century home front as "proven" by the uncluttered, tidy interiors . . .”
Olatide Elizabeth Olowu – On the Theme of form and Emotions
“The Talking Drum rises and falls in tone to mimic human speech. It speaks words of comfort and freedom, rhythmic words encrypted in the tonal pitch of the beats that it produces, woven in with culture and wisdom …”
"Precariously stacked plastic food containers sit on the highest shelves; empty biscuit and cake tins occupy the middle ground; while clingfilm and foil dispensers reside on lower shelves, continuing a theme of prospective food containment."
Arbana Berdynaj – The Limits of Authenticity
“Antoinette was known for playing the roles of shepherdess and milkmaid. She had farm animals, and hired people to live and work on the land to complete the fantasy.”
“Give yourselves an applause. Let’s all start a romantic relationship with the city we are living in.” (from Land of Many Palaces, 2014, dir. Ting Song and Adam James Smith)
Journeys and perambulations, from ancient Rome to Detroit, and from twentieth-century Damascus to rural Sardinia — these are records tied to specific locales, and which describe place in its real or imagined constituents.
“I am a Gramophone... I am one of the antiques that still have pleasant memories of those who used to own me, especially the owner of this memory, who once, in a moment of madness, carried me on the back of a donkey...”
“Depictions of ruined landscapes remind the viewer of a historical moment of failure, yet they also engender a kind of photographic perversion.”
Provocations: Franz Kafka's America (About Buildings + Cities podcast)
Franz Kafka’s first, and least-finished, novel is an imaginary journey around the USA (a country he never visited). Written in 1912, it’s a fantasy of America at a time when seemed, to Europeans at least, to be the most futuristic (and mysterious) place on Earth.
“Nonetheless, they were very porous spaces, where guests were welcomed together with their families, servants and goods, where the chatter of curious passers-by standing beyond the gates would create a constant soundtrack...”
“It seems that Lewerentz was not interested in the classical canon of ‘The Grand Tour’. None of the most renowned buildings appear in his photos as the main subject; rather he aimed the camera away from the centre, towards the particular.”
“The modern-rendered city blocks are repeated down Via Delle Botteghe Oscure until its meeting with Via Florida, in which the built-up urban grain of the city reveals itself as an expanse of space...”
Edwina Attlee, ‘Answer on a postcard: Footprints in time and space’ (2020)
“All postcards are from the same place, they are from ‘away’.” read
Mike Pearson, Wrights and Sites (2018)
“Some ‘walks’ offer specific routes, others imaginative games or provocations: ‘loiter without intent’. In An Exeter Mis-Guide the city is revealed through oblique engagements, with proposals such as ‘Borrow a dog from a friend. Let it take you for a walk’.” read more
Francesca Tattershall – External and Internal Legibility
Look, touch, draw, listen – a walker's guide to mono and poly-culture forests.
Celia Tam – A Journey of Fish
Bream, carp, perch, pike - a journey with fish through London's fishy east end.
Samuel Napleton – A Walk through Green Spaces
A walk to unpick the term 'green spaces' – a rambling architect's guide to ancient forests, commonland and royal parks.
James Thormod – The Harvest: The Price of Control
A walk from the sky to the city allotment - listen to a guided walk that asks, in the context of land scarcity and food poverty, what is the price of controlling the harvest?
IV. World via laptop
Writing about space from confinement has meant having to write about physical boundaries from memory and, in some cases, spending more hours watching TV for inspiration. The absence of sensory experience has led to new observations and discoveries.
Susan Warlow – Same Storm, Different Boat
Sitting room Denise bedroom late teens marriage painted ceiling rose lost detail
French enamel chandelier flowers striped awning colours Camden Passage read more
“At the hub of South London the famous inn sign still stands high above the traffic.”
In this episode we discuss information and 'distancelessness', the digital classroom, the discriminatory virus and other things we've learnt while in isolation.
V. Learning space
Notes on learning, from childhood to higher education; conversations about architectural education and practice, the role of narrative in education, the physical classroom and online learning.
Writing a dissertation podcast, by Henriette Desmoures and Phillipa Longson
Henriette Desmoures and Phillipa Longson received RIBA President’s Medals commendations for their dissertations in 2018 and 2016, respectively. In this podcast they discuss the process, their doubts, what got them through and what is the legacy of their dissertations
Max McColl – Architects, Architecture, Architectural Education and Society
“Students should be encouraged to start theorising the value of what they are learning during the course and should be given help in doing this.” read more
Places Journal: Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching (series of co-authored articles) read
Sean Griffiths – It is emphatically not the job of architectural education to mimic practice (Dezeen, August 2019) read more
Reflections on learning, the social aspect of education, architectural education and practice.
Registering Traces – Material Evidence in Architectural Education
created by Lucia Medina Uriarte, Francesca Miles and Kay Razak
“How long we can stay there? Ah, so many questions you want me to answer and it is just a start of it.”
VI. Dreaming in paintings, gardens and cities
First year students write about the Renaissance desire to reimagine and re-order the world, manifest in pictorial fantasies, landscape arrangements and urban plans of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
This small digital museum exhibits moments of silence, reflections on loss, layers of time in material culture, slow cinema, instances of remembrance through form, and memories of once-upon-a-time futures.
“Along with the urge to create something permanent, we crave permanent solutions and frown upon the temporary intervention. Simultaneously, there is a tendency to take finished buildings too seriously . . .”
“Pizzagalli underlines the narrative importance of voids. He draws the parallel between language and space (via cinema), in order to show that the city can be interpreted as an arrangement, a sequence, in which the void plays a fundamental role.”
Alessandra Catello – Architectural Forms of Holocaust Remembrance
“He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty (of memory) must select places and form mental images of the things they wish to remember and store those images in the places. . . “ (Frances Yates, The Art of Memory)