You are on page 1of 6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonours
Reviewed
17January,2015

The2014DiplomaHonours,highestawardbestowedonAAgraduatingstudents,
showcaseawidespectrumofprojectsandunveilverydistinctvisionsforthe
futureofarchitecture

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

1/6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

IfCorbusierbelievedarchitecturecouldberevolutionisedinfivepoints,thataspirationis
sharedbytheArchitecturalAssociationsnewpublicationcelebratingitstopfive
graduatingstudentsof2014.Themonikerofdiplomahonours(alsotheeponymoustitle
ofthisslimvolume)isawardedtojustafewstudentseachyear,forwhattheAA
considersitsfinestprojects.Itisashamethatsofewotherschoolsofarchitecturedont
havesimilarawardsnotjustbecausehonoursshowcasesthegeneralabilities
andinterestsofthegraduatingyear,butbecausetheaccoladeisastrongstatement
aboutwhattheschoolitselfbelievesisthefutureofarchitecture(bothpedagogicallyand
practically).Thequestionis:whatcanwelearnfromthesefiveworksindividually,each
onewithsuchadistinctvisionforarchitecture?Andwhatdotheytelluscollectively
aboutoneschoolschangingideologies?
Thespectrumisbroad.Atoneend,ahightechlandscapeandtwoperformances
(addressingglobalisationinverydifferentways)thisisarchitectureastechnology,as
infrastructuralspace,asspeculation,asexchange.Andattheotherendofthespectrum,
thereisamodestcommunalhousingblockandasmallgallerywhatmightbecalled
architectureastectonics(theproductionofspaceandarrangementofspatialelements).
IoanaGiurgiusSMFoF:UncoveringtheFactoryinNatureisapostindustrial,post
agrariansaltmarshfactoryofthefutureeliminatingwasteintheproductionprocessby
closingmaterialloops.Thisinterpretationofthefactoryisinrealityahighlycontrolled
ecosystem,harnessingbiologicalprocessestoblendecologyextractingavarietyof
products,fromdrinkingwatertophosphate,andorganicfertiliserstopharmaceutical
ingredients.
GiurgiusprojectsharesitshybridisednaturalsyntheticprocesseswithHarryKays
JingjuonSea,butherethesimilarityends.KaysPekingOperaperformstheactof
consumerismonaplanetaryscale,mirrorsthetrajectoriesofrareearthminerals
extractedfromChinaandbroughttotheThamesestuary.Here,inthefinalactofthe
opera,earthisthrownintotheriverinvolumesreflectingglobalsupplyanddemand,
eventuallybuildinganewisland.Kaysprogressiverevelationofinvisibleforces
underpinningtheglobalpoliticaleconomiccomplexissubtleandcompelling.The
imaginationandscepticismoftheprojectareinawaytypicaloftheunit,tutoredbyLiam
YoungandKateDavieswhilealsomarkinganextremeadvanceforthewaywethink
aboutwhatconstitutesarchitecture.
ThepettymechanismsofglobalsocietyarealsokeytoVerevanGoolsDearLondon,a
studyforanatomisedDutchembassyparasiticallyoccupyingexistingstructures.
SituatedinNineElmsandadjacenttoBatterseaPowerStation,theprojectwrestles
againstthelaserbeamofgentrificationandredevelopmentthatrovesaroundthecapital.
VanGoolproposesnotonlyanewurbanmodelofsovereignty,butalsoanalternative
(orparallel)systemofownershiponereplacingrental,builtandprospectivevaluewith
usevalue:torentahouseistosubownahousetostandonastreetistosubownthe
street.Itsuggestsaformofspatialoccupationinthecityneitherpublicnorprivate,and
thesubtletiesoftheindeterminacyarethoughtprovoking.

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

2/6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

3/6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

AxonometricfromtheDearLondonproject,byVerevanGool
Thisprojectisexcellentlycomposed.Ingeneral,however,ImustadmitIstruggleto
graspthemodusoperandiofthisstudio(Diploma10,runbyCarlosVillanuevaBrandt).
Whenthereistruegeniusintheirspatialinterventionsitisoftenlostintheexaggerated
complexityoftheirtrademarkCADstyle(blindingwireframeneonlinesadabsurdum).
Whiletheirimmersiveautobiographicaladventuresareintendedasurbandrives
embeddingthestudentinaforeignsocialcontext,theyoftenflirtwithprejudice,
classism,condescendingsocialprofilingoroutrightnavetoftheconditionstheywere
attemptingtodocument.TheexceptionalskillofVerevanGoolhasescapedthese
pitfalls,andherprojectisboththoroughlyengagingandexcellentlyinformed.
Inthesecondcategory,concerningmorematerialarchitecture,SummerIslamsObjects
ofNostalgiaisawhimsicalproposaltoextendtheBritishMuseumwithanewsolid
concretegalleryoneformedbynegativecastingaBloomsburyterracerow,andthen
carefullyremovingalltheinternalelements.Thereisaconceptualtwist:thespace
displaysthe99percentoftheBMsartefactscurrentlyinstorage,whilethestorage
becomeshometothepreservedarchitecturalelementsofthedemolishedterrace
houses.Theresultingspaceisaghostofthedomestic,awindowless,blankfacade
concealingthecuriousobjetswithin.Islamsextensivephysicalmodellingdocumentsa
skilful,almostartisanal,sensitivitytothefundamentalsofarchitecture.Herrefined
drawingstyleandcarefulengagementwithhistoryandmemoryhasproducedatruly
beautifulproject,somethingbetweenaRachelWhitereadcastandamoderndaySoane
Museum.
Oneprojectstandsapartfromtheothers,andthatisEugnieBliahsSocks:Collective
LivingfortheJapaneseHousewife(executedunderthetutelageofMariaGiudiciand
PierVittorioAureli).Thearchitectureitselfismodestandfamiliarfourprivatehouses
foryoungfamiliesarrangedinacrossaroundacorecontainingsemipublic
programmes.Eachhomeisautonomous,makingthecommunalspaces(afourway
kitchenbeingthemostimportant)thesiteforthesharingoflabour.Indeed,thetitlefor
theprojectcomesfromaquoteaboutawifealwaysknowingwhichdrawerher
husbandssocksarekeptin.Itisthisaffectivelabour,orunpaidandeconomically
unrecognisedwork(likethatoftheJapanesehousewife)thatthearchitectureresists.
Bliahsuccessfullydistilscomplextheoriesoflabour,genderandsocialrelationsintoa
precisearchitecturethatisatoncepolitical,pragmaticandpoetic.Theeleganceofthis
translationistrulyremarkablethereisalmostnothingharderthandesigningspacesthat
operateasplannedwithoutexplanationorexcuse.Socksavoidsthebluntmetaphors
frequentlyseeninprojectsdealingwithsensationalistidentitypolitics.Thepossibilityof
sharingmealsorlaundrydoesnotpresumethehousewifeasanexploitedunderclass.
Fatherscancooktoo.Bliahclearlyunderstandsthatinhousing,therecanbeno
metaphors.

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

4/6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

Degreesofcommunalliving,fromSocksbyEugnieBliah

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

5/6

12/30/2015

TheArchitecturalAssociationDiplomaHonoursReviewed|Thinkpiece|ArchitecturalReview

Whatresultsisapowerfulstatementabouttheroleofthearchitect,aswellastheability
ofspacetoshapebehaviour.SocksrestorestheModernistidealofthearchitectasa
majoragentofsocialchange.However,unlikeanarchitectlikeCorbusierwho
believedthiswasbestdonethroughlargescaletechnologicalmodernisationBliahis
directlyinfluencingsocialpowerrelationsinanextremelylocalised(andtherefore
effective)manner.
Thisposition,whilerefreshing,couldbereadasexemplarofapromisingnewdirection
incontemporarydesign(particularlyamongayoungergenerationofgraduates).This
directionisonethatpointstoaradicalreappraisalofthefundamentalrelationship
betweenpoliticsandarchitecture(seeJacquesDuroysreportontheArchitecture
Exchangeevent).Weshouldbeclear,thisisnotsomuchthepoliticisation
ofarchitecture,asitisthereformulationofpoliticalambitionsforsocialequalitythrough
thelensofarchitecture(thedifferenceissubtlebutimportant).Further,architecturethat
doesnotabstractitssubjects,butbeginsfromarigorousinvestigationoftheirveryreal
conditions,offersthemosthopeofavoidingthatModernistpitfallofoversimplificationof
itsusers.

DiplomaHonours
Publisher:AAPublications
Price:10

http://www.architecturalreview.com/rethink/reviews/books/thearchitecturalassociationdiplomahonoursreviewed/8674636.fullarticle

6/6

Related Interests