Below are a series of studies that explore memory and phenomenology in architecture, urbanism, structures and green spaces all of which have helped in part to shape the Practice and its ethos. All the studies can be made available on request or for any further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE MODERN ARCHITECTURAL RUIN
In the ever-changing climate of the world’s cities, the built environment has always reflected, adapted to and dictated the way society grows within them. We seek to discover the different ways architects and designers have re-used and adapted existing materials, products and structures to reflect an ideology of the past. From re-purposing materials to build installations or pavilions showing the cities in a new light, to adapting existing obsolete structures for housing or cultural needs, architects and designers have looked at recycling the existing to give something back to the people of the cities in a sustainable and sometimes economical way. In the process of re-using and looking back it is inevitable that history and context play a pivotal role in these projects. Whether it be a direct comparison to a certain ruin or even a memory of one, to a concept or rationale of what has gone before.
Memory and architecture together form a powerful story that has been used to teach the current generations. The ruin is a perfect example of a way to see into the past. To learn from stylisation, to study a civilisation and to inform oneself of where one comes from.
A ruin can take many forms and whatever our ties to them they can always tell us something. This book looks at different types of re-used and adapted structures and compares them to a ruin or relic of the past to better understand the relationship between these projects and the past. In essence, in their basic form, these projects are the modern architectural ruins.
THE ENDLESS MALL
Cities already dominate the world economically and culturally with 50% of the Earth’s population living within them. By 2050 that will increase to nearly 60% putting enormous strain on aging infrastructure and resources. By looking at the world’s largest cities and studying how they operate and evolve to their ever changing circumstances, what they need to consume to keep alive and what waste they produce; we can hopefully educate and adapt in a sustainable way.
Hong Kong, a city of juxtaposition.
Set in the heart of Asia, the city whilst steeped in culture and tradition is also at the world forefront of technology, trade and finance.
For an island and region on the Pearl River delta, space is a luxury that not everyone can afford and yet the housing here is some of the densest in the world. For rents that are 18 times that of the average family income and over twice that of rents in the UK, most of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population seem to have little problem spending money.
HONG KONG IN PHOTOGRAPHS
Having been to Hong Kong on many occasions it was only natural to want to study the city state further. The book ‘The Endless Mall’ aims to look at the city in terms of it’s history, economy, society, cultural habits and the construction of the city itself whereas this book, which can be seen as an accompaniment, seeks to document the city in photographs.
Hong Kong has always fascinated because it is a city of juxtapositions. There is a historical and cultural undertone that sometimes seems at odd with one of the wealthiest and technologically advanced places on the earth. Growing up the Western World Hong Kong exhibits social aspects that seem completely foreign to us. The way the city works should be inspirational to the rest of the world as its efficiency and construction is one that theologians and architects have been trying to reach in Europe and the Americas since the 1920’s. It is a society that does not tend to cook at home but rather in malls and restaurants where lunch or dim sum becomes a significantly social event. As such the amount of residential waste produced is one of the lowest in the world.
The networking of the city is such that all available space is used for construction and infrastructure with the city working on multiple levels to increase efficiency in an area where space is a premium. Pedestrians are often kept separate from traffic and the outside by walkways and bridges and interconnecting buildings.
Hopefully this documentation gives a sense to someone that has never visited Hong Kong or the East before of the striking differences between what we expect a city to be like and what Hong Kong is.
SPATIAL ARRANGEMENT OF THE FUTURE CITY
The spatial arrangement of the city has always been a fascinating subject to delve into as around the world cities have evolved in completely different circumstances for different needs to form networks that are unique to themselves. No one can spend time in London and not wonder about how the city functions on a day to day basis, and after spending five years living there, commuting and working there the city of London was always going to be either the space and subject for my research or a basis for it to apply elsewhere.
London is an integral part of my life, having close friends that live there, work/study there and a second property there. There is not a month that goes past when I do not spend time in the city. Having the option to go into the city whenever I want because of good transport links (40 minutes from my town), but also living outside of the hustle and bustle has meant that I can enjoy both worlds and keep the hum drum of London fresh and exciting. Having met my wife there over 8 years ago this draw back to the city is something we both share. The fact that she is also from Hong Kong has, I feel, played a critical part in her connection to a city. Having then spent time in Hong Kong myself and even getting married there I have seen first hand the similarities and stark differences between the two cities. This has led me to look at how London could possibly change for a future of increased density and connectivity by looking at the cohesive network of Hong Kong.
It is this comparison set against London that this book seeks to explore and form a basis for a wider vision or programme for a future city. It is in these spatial arrangements not individual buildings alone that should be focused on if we are to truly create an efficient, sustainable city of the future.
CONCRETE & CORRUPTION
This study seeks to look at the London housing estate crisis. It seeks to understand how the estates came about by looking at historical factors such as social, political and economical influences that drove a new architectural energy and ideology. It will evaluate how and when the decline came about and how this and the legacy of the developers has affected the housing stock in London today. The continuing influence of the developers is a major contributing factor to the built environment we see today and it is their relationship with the councils which will be put under scrutiny to see why the London boroughs are moving for more luxury rentable accommodation over affordable homes for families. This continuing trend has already lead to the mass eviction of deprived families from London only to be replaced by foreign investor ‘safety deposit boxes’. This study seeks to unveil the big money being made at the expense of existing local communities by looking at the Heygate and Aylesbury Estate in Southwark as well as the Greenwich Peninsular development and how the councils have dealt with their involvement. It also assesses the legacy of Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar and weighs up the benefits of securing more affordable housing at the expense of an architectural icon.
TENSION AND TENTS
To say tensile fabric structures are an unconventional form of structure is a slight misdemeanour. Tensile fabric structures, or tents, are among one of the first types of structure being simple and quick to construct out of materials that can be packed away after use making them ideal for a nomadic lifestyle of early humans. The individual elements are lightweight, typically consisting of animal hides or skins, so can be carried and transported easily. Today the fabrics are often man made giving them greater longevity, environmental resistance, the ability to print and colour, and even increasing insulating properties.
Historically tent shelters are unsurprisingly widespread across the world being of simple construction relying on the fundamental aspects of a frame with a covering. They range from the Native American Tepees to the Aboriginal shelters in Australia with a greater diversity occurring around Eurasia. Almost always made from local materials, with the exception of the Yurts where the builders traded for the wood for the frame, the tents were made from wood or bone with skins and furs for the covers.
Today’s modern fabrics and techniques allow for grander structures that can be used as permanent structures rather than temporary ones for a nomadic lifestyle. These are the most efficient ways of spanning large distances with minimal material and support and the simple technology allows structures to be put up in record time with techniques that have been around for thousands of years.