UNIT 3 | TRACES

MICHAEL HOLMS COATS, LEE JESSON AND OLIVER WATSON

Guided by making and drawing, Unit 3 seeks to challenge modes of thinking and broaden the architectural ‘toolkit’ of each student. Our starting point this year has been ‘activity’, following on from ‘place’ and ‘construction’ in previoius years. The framing theme of ‘traces’ was introduced to materialise activity – to encourage the observation of and speculation about the marks of human action imprinted onto the environment, shaping all aspects of design. Rather than limiting ‘use’ to the dry vocabulary of ‘programme’ or ‘building type’, the aim was to observe and uncover the routines, actions and interactions of a range of people, building users, in context.

Through a sequence of small- and medium-sized ‘works’, students uncovered clues and threads, desire lines and wear and tear to develop specific activity interests and anchor design. Initial exploration language ranged from annotation to drawn and photographic representation, evolving into drawing techniques presenting a hybrid of record and speculation, a ‘capriccio’. And this iterative process then saw students translate their findings and ideas into physical form before starting their main projects.

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