Below are a sample of my favourite design and dissertation projects produced by students I have taught. Between September 2005 and September 2007 I ran a studio with John Stevenson. Since then I have been teaching studio with Andrew Dawson.

2013-14

Design Studio (Postgraduate)
Title of Design Studio 1: Media Massage: Accidents and Asylum

“Images contaminate us like viruses.”(Paul Virilio)

“The field of vision is comparable, for me, to the terrain of an archaeological dig. To see is to be on guard, to wait for what emerges from the background, without any name, without any particular interest: what was silent will speak, what is closed will open and will take on a voice.” (Paul Virilio)

Media Massage: Accidents and Asylum focused on the theme of the impact of the rapid surge of media images and information in our contemporary society via a study of technology, speed and power as discussed in the writings of Paul Virilio, Marshall McLuhan and Anne Friedberg (The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft, 2006). It focused on the content of news stories found in recent popular electronic media. Students selected and researched a series of current news stories from which they generated architectural outcomes. While they consumed news, students considered the global complexities of the constant streaming of news events. Also examined were the cultural biases and divisions that occur and how the news media exaggerates or mitigates between possible conflicting positions.

Name: Sally Collinson (MArchD Design Project)
Title Project 1: Hydraulic Fracturing: Exposing the Depth & Effect (Accident)
Title Project 2: The Environmental Watch North Caucasus: In Protection of Krasnodar Krai (Asylum)

The two-part project is concerned with two environmental debates currently circulating the media: hydraulic fracturing and the destruction caused by development in Sochi during the Winter Olympics. Drawing upon the theories of media theorists Marshall McLuhan and Paul Virilio, the projects consider architecture as a medium of communication that reinstates the spatial and temporal dimensions lost in virtual media.

Collage is used as a design methodology, whereby the worked surface becomes the active site of architectural creation. In Accident, collage is used to generate ideas and themes to be embedded in the design. The possibilities of collage are pushed further in Asylum, where collage making becomes an iteration, in which design fragments emerge through the surface of the works and gradually become parts of a composite whole.

Name: Sam Gillies (MArchD Design Project)
Title Project 1: The Factorium (Accident)
Title Project 2: Inside the Missile: Asylum within the Independence Square (Asylum)

“Real war is no longer conducted solely on the geographical field of action but, initially and essentially, in the absence of field, inside the organs of the missile.”(Virilio, 2007: 26)

Inside the Missile: Asylum within the Independence Square weaves an alternate reality from the Kiev riots that lasted from December 2013 to February 2014. Protestors invent and activate temporary places of asylum formed by clusters of improvised mobile shelter units, which follow the swarming behaviours of protestors.

Images and videos are from two projects: Inside the Missile and The Factorium.

Name: Lewis Clarke (Research-led Design Project)
Title: Envisioning Possibilities: An Archive for Arthur C. Clarke

Envisioning Possibilities focuses on the life of Arthur C Clarke, his oeuvre and his influential science fiction visions. The Clarke archive consists of a number of spaces based upon objects, images and various texts by the author.

Throughout the design research project, storyboarding has been used in order to gain an understanding of the site, develop design proposals, and to express the final design. The envisioning possibilities research project looked into developing an understanding of Arthur C. Clarke’s writing of space throughout his novels.

Name: Geoffrey Lan (Research-led Design Project)
Title: The Travel Experience

At the core of this project is the belief that it is still possible, in this day and age, to enjoy travel experiences from the Golden Age of Travel. Using theory obtained from the analysis of travel writings recounting the Golden Age of Travel, and Miodrag Mitrasinovic’s principles of ‘designing’ the travel experience, this project proposes a series of architectural interventions aiming to teach the visitor about the travel experience. Through the integration of other theories such as Nikolaus Pevsner’s principles of the picturesque or Robert Barker’s ‘pursuit of Maximum Illusion’, each architectural element is designed to generate questions, encouraging the user to define his or her own travel experience. The design research project is based on a dissertation study of four female British Travel Writers from 1850 to 1950 - Matilda Betham-Edwards, Dame Freya Stark, Morag Murray Abdullah and Isabella Lucy Bird.

Name: Thameenah Ahmad (UG dissertation)
Title: Antonioni, Landscape and the Image of the Woman

The dissertation, Antonioni, Landscape and the Image of the Woman seeks to examine the cinematic representation of women in the tetralogy of films by the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. Using the actress Monica Vitti in L'avventura, La Notte, L'eclisse and Il Deserto Rosso, Antonioni establishes a unique perspective of the landscapes and cities explored through the four films. This dissertation aims to challenge the argument of Antonioni as a misogynistic director by dissecting the image of his female characters in his cinema and measuring it against the theory of the "male gaze." By contextualising the cinematic Italian image of the woman in the 20th century and analysing Antonioni's women against their specific landscapes, the study concludes by re-evaluating whether the gaze is male itself and if this contributes to Antonioni's overall position on women.

Name: Callum Boult (UG dissertation)
Title: East London in Film

This dissertation looks at recent films set in East London and establishes whether they give a realistic impression of what it is to live in its architecture. It questions whether filmmakers are capturing reality or altering it through filmic techniques and crime centred narratives.

Through the theories of Richard Koeck, the dissertation outlines how film can represent and misrepresent the architecture and spaces of East London. It concludes that films set in the East End contribute to the misconception that the primary cause of the failing of the architecture in the areas such as its tower blocks is their design, as opposed to the actual source problem that is the segregation of the poor and unemployed. An issue that is too often secondary in the body of films is the depictions of rampant crime, which the setting's architecture is perceived by the filmmakers to only accentuate social dysfunction.

2012-13

Name: Jennifer Jammaers (MArchD Design project)
Title: Consuming the Exotic: Commodification of Cultural Identity

The project questions the authenticity of elements that we as tourists encounter on our travels abroad, while at the same time allowing the observer-tourist to create their own opinion of globalised, mass-produced economies. The pneumatic design is a response to how our experience of space abroad transcends from a personal to cultural perspective. Sited in Cappadocia, the design is transformative. It is a technologically sophisticated floating structure that poetically mimics the air balloons that haunt, like busy air traffic, Cappadocia today.

Name: Dan Kealty (MArch Dissertation)
Title: Crushopolis, Hong Kong

Crushtropolis was inspired by the city of Hong Kong, a city that was formed through the crush of multiple architectural and cultural identities. The design attempts to define the connection an individual has with the city, and how this process can reaffirm our sense of spirituality in the modern world.

The design was formed by creating a cinematic sequence of architectural spaces that describes the journey between the city and the home as delineated in the Japanese tea ceremony. The architectures drew from the reflective nature of the lonely journey, creating a metaphysical distancing between the inhabitants from the hectic nature of the city.

Name: Ruby Wilson (UG Dissertation)
Title: Intersections: Phenomenological Architecture and the Moving Image

This dissertation focuses on the intersections between philosophy, architecture and the moving image to discover the potential of the moving image as a tool for the conception and development of phenomenological space. Through an exploration of the philosophies of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, in conjunction with the writings of Juhani Pallasmaa and Steven Holl, an understanding is formed of the existing theoretical connection between phenomenological philosophy and the experience of space.

Pallasmaa’s theories of the influence of film on architectural design are taken as a starting point to assess the potential applications of video for the architectural practitioner. Firstly, video is studied as a phenomenological abstract art form. Its relationship with temporality and the essence of space are subsequently established. Secondly, the current applications of video by architects are presented. The dissertation concludes that video is a temporal collage of moments, experiences and essences, forming the conceptual foundations from which a building can begin to take shape.

Name: Deborah Odita (UG Dissertation)
Title: In Memory of Yeye

2011-12

Name: Dan Kealty (Major Study, Dip in Architecture)
Title: Merging Realities, Hong Kong

Merging Realities endeavours to create architecture from the perspective of a film director, using cinematic techniques to drive the design process. Architects often attempt to create an experience through the use of space, whereas a director’s focus is to creating an experience through the use of narrative, with architecture forming the backdrop to these events. The project posits that the architectural profession could benefit from the integration of film and media in the design process.

The design investigates the existential nature of the home, focusing on the directorial styling of Mamoru Oshii and develops a home for the director. Oshii’s House takes the concepts of what makes us human and develops them into an architecture that would be experienced as a domestic journey of self-discovery.

Name: Francesco Miniati (MArchD- Research-led Design dissertation)
Title: Architectural Hacking

Through a long history of creating enclosures the surface of the earth has been almost completely divided up between public and private property so that common land regimes have been destroyed (Hardt & Negri, 2009). Yet much of our world is common. Multiple languages, informations and softwares are open to access for all and developed through active participation. In this world, the hackers are the rebels who fight to free the power of the common. Hackers are not only programmers but anyone who succumbs to his/her thirst for knowledge without any restrictions (Taylor, 1999). Together they are a class that realises itself when it attacks the abstraction of property and overcomes the limitations of existing forms of property (Wark, 2004). From hackers we can learn how to retrieve and expand the power of the common.

In this project, the architectural grid of the city is hacked as is the cladding grid of a building. The latter is made unique by being cast of concrete using found debris on the site. Only then can we find the uniqueness in architecture, its presence hinc et nunc and finally touch that aura (Benjamin, 1936) that today has been deceived by a haze of privilege and necessity. Changing the land property paradigms is the final hack to revolutionise the city as a shared common space.

Name: Matt Sawyer (UG dissertation)
Title: Extinction of Humanity: Man-Made Catastrophe to Urban Decay

When a man-made catastrophe occurs there is only one choice for the population – escape. The Chernobyl catastrophe brought the human race the closest it has been to the brink of an extinction, forcing evacuation and leaving structures to weather, deteriorate and battle natural opposition.

This dissertation aimed to assess the effect that a man-made disaster has on built structures and city inhabitants. It outlines the way that people flee and how the architecture of the built environment aids or prohibits escape of its citizens. By investigating testimonies of people who experienced Chernobyl and Bhopal we can see what terrors people faced and the condition of the structures left behind.

2010-11

Name: Oliver Cooper (5th year design studio, Dip in Architecture)
Title: City of Interwoven Power Structures, Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Through the production of a series of animations which engage with natural environmental conditions, Cooper creates a vision of David Harvey's Edilia as the City of Interwoven Power Structures. The city is inspired by John Hejduk's masques. Using Hejduk's method of creating fictitious characters with specific house requirements, Coopers creates a networked city in which each house is interdependent on the other house users and nature. I published the article 'Ecotopia "Living with Nature" in Edilia, Iceland' in the Journal of Architectural Education in March 2013.

Name: Dan Kealty (5th year design studio, Dip in Architecture)
Title: Niflheim, Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Niflheim uses science-fiction as a tool to develop a detailed and unconstrained architectural form. The fictional scenario was developed through a series of creative exercises that produced models, animated drawings, and prosthetic devices to immerse the design in an incredibly detailed fiction.

The Nordic word for Underworld, Niflheim follows the lives of the peoples stranded on the dark side of the world once the Earth had lost its rotation. The design develops from the analysis of how our lives would change when located in such an extreme environment, and what architecture would need to become to reclaim the frozen surface of Jökulsárlón lagoon in Iceland.

2009-10

Design Studio (Undergraduate)
Title: Architecture, Ecology and Sci-Fi

I co-taught the studio with Andrew Dawson. The studio explored the possibilities of designing sustainable architecture in a fantastic and fictitious way. The studio resulted from my interest in sci-fi literature and films and our concern with the limitations of sustainable design. I published an article on the studio approach in arq: Architectural Research Quarterly in 2013.

Name: Astrid Bois D'Enghien
Project Title: Nauphoeta Cinerea Navitas_Cockroach Generating Power Station
Site: Trafalgar Square, London, 2048

Over the past forty years, London has been facing climate change. Human populations are adapting to new ecological challenges. The city is infested with cockroaches due to their outstanding environmental adaptation capabilities. Londoners are trapped in a constant and noisy swarm, confronted with a loss of identity.

Nauphoeta Cinerea Navitas acts as a recycling centre located in the heart of Trafalgar Square. Citizens vacuum the streets through a network system of pipes displayed around the city. Sucked up cockroaches are sent to the Laboratory Research to be studied, disassembled and finally crashed into biofuel. The power station runs solely on the energy embodied within cockroaches – kinetic or material.

Nauphoeta cinerea navitas illustrates a contemporary answer to an ecological crisis. It enhances the city of London in resolving an environmental problem without underestimating its psychological and sociological impact. The power station becomes the emblem for a happier urban life, a space for entertainment, a new place for hope in a drastically changing world.

Name: Misha King
Project Title: The Thermal Baths of Icebound London
Site: Grovenor Bridge, London, 2048

In 2048, an ice age has frozen the River Thames and citizens of London have taken refuge in the thermal baths under Grosvenor Bridge.

To endure these apocalyptic conditions the building's design required a roof canopy that could respond to environmental change and protect its inhabitants from approaching cold fronts. The temperature difference between the geothermal waters and the icy atmosphere causes the hydraulic roof to pressurize, opening and closing to keep a constant building climate.

Inspiration was sought from Buckminster Fuller’s theory of tensegrity, in which complex behaviours can be exhibited by networks of relatively simple parts and stresses are equalised across a whole system. As a group we explored the theory by building clusters of articulated beams that could elastically stabilise themselves in response to changing physical pressures.

2008-9

Design Studio (Undergraduate)
Title: Immigration and Architecture

Immigration and Architecture centred on the study of UK immigrants and the resultant cultural, social and architectural influences that follow. Students were invited to critically examine the personal experience of travel, and subsequent tension between losing a past culture whilst gaining the new experience of British culture. The first project in the studio was to design a house for a fictitious migrant moving to the UK. The studio was heavily inspired by my love of John Hejduk's imaginary architectural characters and his Masque houses that he designed for them. In the second semester students designed a ‘Tower of Contemplation’, which aimed to embody the tension between the hope and melancholy experienced with traveling to start a new life. Andrew Dawson and I ran the studio.

Name: Hannah Durham
Project Title: A Tower to Sit and Wait for Loved Ones

The act of waiting predominantly is a visual activity of scanning the horizon with your eyes looking for something, therefore I created a character (client) that was blind. The tower became the sensor for its occupant.

“I regard an object, but sound approaches me; the eye reaches, but the ear receives”. (Pallasmaa, J. (1996) The Eyes of the Skin, John Wiley & Sons: London)

The site was the Southampton Docks. I asked a Red Funnel archivist, “where would you stand if you wanted to see a boat at first sight entering the dock?”, the answer was the end of the Calshot spit, so this became my site. On a site visit I admired the thick fog at 5-6pm with the orchestra of the passing ships horns and the wind on the site. The tower now became a musical instrument and a sensor.

The vernacular material used on the site for construction was concrete and I admired the textile quantities of its harsh surface.

This project was influenced by reading Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

“If a jar is not available, then a stump or a tin can will do. Waiting for Godot is the story of two vagabonds who impose on their slovenly wilderness an illusory, but desperately defended, pattern: waiting.”

“They are man seeking meaning in an absurd universe. When asked who they are by Pozzo in Act II, Vladimir answers, “We are men. In this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come” (Beckett, S (1952) Waiting for Godot, Atlantic Books: London, p.51)

Name: Lucy Dickson
Project Title: Tower of Contemplation
Site: Southampton Docks, 2009

The Tower of Contemplation offers a place to remember past travel. Situated at the Southampton Docks, entrance to the tower is tidal; only accessible at low tide. This aims to heighten the awareness of Britain as an island and destination. The upper room of the tower offers a space to reflect with views out to sea. The lower displays individual objects of importance brought by those who travelled to Britain, each tied to the grid structure of the tower with a note of explanation.

Name: James Simcock
Project Title: House for a Bicultural Migrant
Site: Notting Hill, London 2008

The 2008-2009 studio 'Immigration and Architecture’ centred on the study of immigration into Project description: Eager to escape the oppressive Russian Communist regime, Jan Lukac immigrated from his home country Czechoslovakia in 1968, settling in London’s Notting Hill.

Desperate to liberate himself from his oppressed mind set, Jan has asked me to design him a house that can adapt to his needs, a house that permutates to satisfy the needs of a migrant adapting to a new culture whilst retaining his Czech identity; who is simultaneously Czech and English.

The house is fully automated, using motorized conveyor belts and hydraulic rams integrated into the structure to slide vertical and horizontal wall units. In doing so the house can generate a high number of different sized and shaped spaces, adjusting to the needs of Jan Lukac on a second by second basis: his needs are not shaped by the designed space, but rather the designed space is shaped to satisfy his human needs.

Name: Mike Halliwell (Major Study_ 6th Year dissertation)
Title: Design Writing – Storyteller as Architect

Where a designer uses fictional imagery to illustrate the narrative of a concept, a novelist uses fictional narrative to generate imagery of a context. This major study uses worked examples to explore the idea that the crafting of a textual narrative can be as powerful a tool in the communication of a spatial concept as the crafting of an image, and argues that the use of written narrative in the conception and development of architectural design is an underutilised resource, overshadowed by the pursuit of the key visual in architectural practice and education.

Name: Edwina Kinsella (Master of Architecture – dissertation)
Title: Snapshot Reality, Fiction beyond the Façade: In the Architecture and Writing of Sergei Malakhov & Evgenia Repina’s Post-projects

This dissertation considers the fictional architecture and stories of the Russian architects, Sergei Malakhov and Evgenia Repina. Its focus is particularly their work as paper architects, undertaken during the early post-Soviet period from 2001 to 2005, on the post-projects. The post-projects are a collection of works undertaken by Malakhov and Repina centred on the symbolic escape of the Russian dacha (an informal dwelling of retreat from the city and the ‘system’) in which the architects present dachas as architecturally designed projects for fictional clients.

Their work is presented in this dissertation as being a product of the transition from the political and creative situation of the former Soviet Union. From our Western perspective, the previous Soviet era was a period of many restrictions. Hidden beyond the façade of Russian culture, there were flexible and transversive parameters between reality and fiction and a malleability of history and perspective. In a period of transition from the Soviet to the post-Soviet period, the dwellings of the post-projects become a stage set on which to perpetuate the symbolic meaning of the Dacha object form the precise Soviet era.

Like similarly fictional contributors to architecture such as the Russian paper architects of the 1980s or John Hejduk, Malakhov and Repina’s post-projects do not offer architecture of conventional built form, but an architecture of thought. In this they nostalgically return to Karl Marx’s idea that our labour can only be free for creativity when it is liberated from the necessity of making money.

[Post-Project images such as the Snapshots, models and drawings are copyright to Evgenia Repina.]

2006-7

Name: Anika Gruender

Name: Tom James

Name: Magalie Pargade

Name: Mike Halliwell (UG dissertation)
Dissertation Title: A Journey of Recollection: The Abridged Memoirs of a Time Traveller

The dissertation takes the form of a documentary scrapbook of notes and photography charting my attempt to shed light on cognitive behaviour in regards to derelict space through a series of journeys to derelict military and industrial landscapes from my own past.

A meditation on the mechanics of spatial memory and recollection, the journeys are split into 3 chapters, each covering a different tense: Past – Recollection; Present - Interpretation; and Future - Projection and includes explorations of the Nazi bunkers of the Atlantic wall, the vast memorial graveyards of the Ypres Salient and derelict, post-industrial landscape of Oxfordshire.

2005-6

Name: Mike Halliwell
Title: Shipton 01 – The Return of the Prodigal Son

The brief called for the inclusion of a ‘mobile’ structure within the derelict space of a vast quarry and cement works. The device needed to respond to the landscape in order to affect its occupation.

The response was to mirror the violence of the extraction and removal of material from the quarry by returning concrete in large uniform blocks dropped from 1000ft above the quarry by cargo plane.

The fall and cataclysmic collision with the ground constituted the unpredictable ‘mobility’ of the structure and the build-up of blocks upon blocks within the landscape would form a new terrain defined and shaped by the chaos of the process.

Name: Mike Halliwell
Title: Shipton 02 – The Shipton on Cherwell Phobia Correction Facility
Site: Shipton Quarry

This project sought to explore the relationship between spatial design and narrative by reinterpreting the site ‘as found’ through a fictional archaeological analysis of the buildings in order to encourage an alternative interpretation of it’s past.

The imaginary history was carefully crafted to respond to real evidence remaining on site in order to portray a theoretically credible version of past events, in this case recasting the cement factory as an Orwellian Phobia Correction hospital.

The history, in the form of a guidebook was planted in the wreckage to be found and interpreted by other explorers.

© website Anna Zaremba 2013