Katharina Borsi & Jonathan Hale
Michel De Certeau argues that a city – its buildings, streets, and crowds – is a language, and that by taking a walk through the city the flâneur enacts this language and thus enacts the space itself. Wandering through the streets and crowds provides one way of mapping the urban language: the flâneur becomes a cartographer. At the same time Aldo Rossi described the city as the collective memory of its people, and like memory it is associated with objects and places.
The city is the locus of the collective memory; it is a palimpsest that embodies the history of its making, but also the memories of the ideas and events that have taken place in it. Inscribed into the surfaces of the city – formed by repeated patterns of movement, action and occupation – is what Siegfried Kracauer called the ‘hieroglyphics of space’. The studio asks how architecture can respond to this complex organism, by foregrounding the role of the building as a mediator between the body and the city, the individual and the collective, and the interrelated networks of forces and agents acting in the urban field.
The first semester involved the analysis and mapping of two study areas: Spandauer Vorstadt in Berlin and Southbank to Borough Market in London. The task was not so much to exhaustively document the urban scene or the truth of its built form, rather to diagnose, analyse, and notate an encounter between the individual and the city as a field of forces. The objective was to identify both a site and a programme for the thesis design phase in semester two. This thesis proposal is then described in two distinct forms: 1) in the text of the ‘Thesis Research Proposal’ and 2) through the construction of an ‘urban mediator’ – a device, object, installation, map, book, video or other choreographed experience presented on site in London.
Students 2011-12: Hana Al Saleh, Ellie Atherton, Jenny Bachelor, Justin Lam, Ji Soo Han, Matthew Holt, Sam Johnson, Ioannis Kyriakou, Shuo Carl Liu, Paul Ornsby, Sam Smith, Ivan Tomasevic.
Guest tutors/lecturers/critics: Christine McCarthy (Victoria University of Wellington); Jon Goodbun (University of Westminster); C J Lim (The Bartlett, UCL); John Morgan (University of Nottingham).