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Unit 3 | VALUE(S)

Michael Holms Coats, Lee Jesson and Oliver Watson

Unit 3 aims at research through design and is guided by drawing and making to critique modes of thinking and broaden the architectural ‘toolkit’ of each student. The unit has taken on the challenge of examining neglected aspects of architecture that deserve proper attention. This year students have been working on ‘values’ in architecture, by examining in what ways a broad range of ethical, social and spatial values and value systems impinge on architectural design and how judgments about what something it worth combine and relate to each other in the specifics of architectural design.

‘What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.’ - Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan – 1892

In early works, students dissected historical architectural systems, from the Vitruvian triad through Modernism’s utopian project to the acknowledged uncertainties and inconsistencies of life ‘after ideology’.  Following initial value examinations and architectural case studies, and a study trip to Liverpool, work moved swiftly on to individual ‘value designs’ on sites in Canterbury - on, over or around the city’s historic wall.  This was a stepping stone to the 'Wealth of Here and Now' final project across seven locations at, on or near the old Roman Wall of the City of London, the capital’s historic core and financial district.

Facing the significant challenges of changing work and trade patterns, the social impact of vulnerable global systems and climate change, students have uncovered in their projects complex and diverse ways in which highly-valued spaces can be embedded, from an urban scale down to the elements and components in individual buildings, and have created urban interventions within the existing cityscape of the City of London – attached to its infrastructure and related to its social system.

Nestling beside a ruined part of the ancient wall a new work hub adapts itself to the requirements of a looser working day, a film conservation and restoration facility manipulates and exaggerates the character of complex routes and levels and a theatre sequence creates surprise out of the ruins of the wall that erupt into its public and performances spaces. On the riverside an experiential rampway leads from the riverbank to a forum for conversation, hovering over the Thames; and an artbook workshop tucked in close to endless office blocks stands like a sentinel declaring diversity over the repetition of the office working day. Near or outside the wall, routes and volumes create public intimacy for a new artists’ workshop and gallery culled from the existing fabric of a tower and a plinth, currently scheduled for demolition; a redundant access ramp is transformed to serve a prime meat market and restaurant, embedding threatened work and identity into the urban fabric; and a recuperation and recovery therapy unit sets a very different paradigm for ‘restoration’.

‘Value is the regard that something is held to deserve: its importance, its worth, its usefulness.’ - Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England

Guest lectures and critics
Clare Bowman, Faye Chantler, Ambrose Gillick, Tim Ireland, Chris Jones, Yorgos Loizos, Alessia Mosci, Michael Richards, Mervyn Rodrigues (Rodrigues Associates), Henrik Schoenefeldt, Chloe Street Tarbatt, Matthew Woodthorpe


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