Unit 19 at the Bartlett Summer Show 2018
Unit 19 aims to challenge the contemporary status of building design and the construction industry, in which the role of the architect appears to have been reduced to that of an aestheticist at the service of neo-liberal modes of project development. The unit explores how the architectural discipline could expand through engagement with different models of ownership, construction and inhabitation, speculating on how architecture can engage with, and be a catalyst for, a post-capitalist society. We develop specifically designed catalogues of discrete parts that allow architectural structures to be assembled through user-driven scenarios that unfold through time.
This year, we continued our focus on the most pervasive architectural typology worldwide: the house, or housing. Commercial house builders favour the most risk-averse typologies of residential blocks and apartment layouts, which are increasingly insufficient in today's world. Our research explored how residents can participate in the decision-making process, developing open-ended types of domestic space that enable engagement within communities with the production of homes.
We have placed a particular focus on the material articulation of our kit of part systems, scrutinising the manufacturing ecology and value systems that currently limit the production of housing. We have embraced advanced technologies in digital design and manufacturing, speculating on new models of prefabrication and on-site assembly processes that use digital negotiation protocols to project future scenarios of inhabitation. This application of already ongoing technological developments towards the current limitations of the house building industry has allowed us to test innovative architectural proposals that could be realised in the 'near-now'.
A central strategy within the unit’s approach was to combine computational design processes with the idea of part-to-whole relationships, considering architecture as ‘wholly digital’ in both process and artefact. Conceiving new types of living environments as assemblies out of discrete elements allowed us to establish a direct link between the spatial and organisational principles developed in the digital design environment and how these would perform in real life. The research produced has covered a range of scenarios that subvert, or strategically alter, the existing economies of development within the housing sector, proposing typologies and spatial environments that imagine new scenarios of urban life. They respond to contemporary social, economic and cultural challenges and opportunities, imagining architectures that push beyond our current models for society.
To see the complete books of student work produced throughout the year, click on an image to be taken that student's personal project page.