Unit 2 | Hybrid Futures
This year Unit 2 looked at the theme of ‘transformation’ through the lens of the continuing discourse between analogue and digital production. Architects rely on visual work (GAs, renders, models) and words to present and explain design ideas and processes. For instance, CAD and BIM allow to work efficiently and share libraries of digital materials and building elements between a range of specialists. Yet this might raise the question of how the
digital words created are related back to the thing-ness of the objects and materials, and how as designers we can retain a creative authorship.
Most recently we have also seen examples of AI learning platforms that generate art from textual descriptions. If a software is taking artistic authorship, how might our roles as authors and designers might be affected and transformed, and what impact this would have to
the spaces we design? Do we think and create new ways of making? As a response, Unit 2 explored the use of physical making and fabrication alongside the digital techniques, embracing the unexpected of design through making and creative mistakes to push
We started the year with a short introductory project to provide a preparation of the methods and the theoretical background of the student design practice. To consider how the meaning ‘hybrid’ might be explored spatially, we borrowed the term ‘hinged spaces’ from architect
Steven Holl who used this term in his Fukuoka Housing project to describe his modern interpretation of traditional Fusima – a set of moveable walls that connect, open or close spaces. Our interpretation of a hinged space expanded further to explore the idea of interlocking two or more different elements, such as the physical with the digital, culture with technology, pictorial representation with reality.
To inform this process, each student examined a scene from contemporary cinema that depicts an interesting space speculating about the use or impact of technologies in the daily life. This analysis informed the production of a prototype which recreated, re-imagined,
or reconstructed the architecture of the filmed interior. Having developed an interesting architecture prototype, we then focused on Deptford - the site for this year - to test the prototypes in consideration of the site surroundings, social and cultural history of the area.
These proposals developed further some of the filmic analysis and models from the first project and reflected on an interesting use of technology and material exploration. Having explored a research practice with a prototype and a small experimental building in Autumn Term, the students expanded their architectural research, narrative and methods to formulate complex mixed-use building proposals for Deptford for the remainder of the academic year.