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Unit 14 – Architectural Association

[Top 10 London Units: Part 2 level] Tutors: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Barbara Campbell-Lange, Fenella Collingridge

In recent years, complex forms, parametric systems of design, and diagrams have become the norm in architecture. If these devices promise endless differentiation and adaptability to multiple situations, identities and performances, the results in fact contribute to a monotonous landscape of (value-free) diversity.

Against this landscape, Diploma 14 has worked to propose a return to simple forms as a polemical way to confront the insurmountable complexity of the city. Instead of naively mimicking urban complexity with architectural complexity, the unit proposes to critically understand urbanity as something that provides architecture in its irreducible form.

The design of an Immeuble Cité - a building for a community of 1,600 inhabitants - is intended as an opportunity to put forward innovative and extreme living standards in light of the increasing merging of living and working activities.

Issues integral to the design of these buildings are: the economy of construction means, accessibility, relationship between individual and collective spaces, materials and structural framework, the dialectic between flexibility and permanence, the critical relationship between repetition and exception. In addition the project confronts the critical relationship between pauperism and hedonism.

Unit references: Oswald Mathias Ungers, John Hejduk, Cedric Price, Mies van der Rohe

Student Projects:

Simon Whittle (winner of the Dennis Sharp Essay Award)

Inspired by the stripped-down paintings of Agnes Martin and the architectural didacticism of Sebastiano Serlio, Simon has reduced the grammar of the Immeuble Cité to the repetition and variation of one element: the room. In the age of post-Fordism, where production has invaded every aspect of life, the theatricality of the room becomes simultaneously the space of public appearance, and of production. The enfilade logic is thus a typological tool to negotiate possibilities of relationships, variations and discontinuities within the non-compositional order of the grid.

Jorgen Tandberg (awarded Diploma Honours)
Jorgen’s proposal for the Immeuble Citè revisits John Hejduk’s North-South-East-West House, where light conditions are not assumed as functional datum, but as narrative structure. A light structure containing inhabitable rooms is attached to a plain wall. The wall contains the communal services spaces and the circulation. Fear and anguish, the essential attributes of post-fordist form of labour, are not exorcised with an idyllic image of housing comfort, but confronted with an architecture that made explicit its abstract nature. The project is thus a redemption generic architecture seen as a site for an (impossible) architectural utopia.

Cristina Asenjo del Río (runner-up for Distinction in Technical Studies)

This project is an attempt to replicate through contemporary building techniques the institution of the Imperial Baths. It advocates the recuperation of a classical form as the most appropriate framework to address contemporary life. The Imperial Bath is revisited as the institution that could address the increasing informality of new forms of work where encounter, exchange and relaxation constitute the most crucial frameworks.

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