Interiors Buildings Cities

Interiors Buildings Cities is concerned with making buildings, in places, for people. It conceives of the city at each scale as a work of architecture and hence the responsibility of the architect, with the relationships between them being understood directly, through experience.

The writer Walter Benjamin described the city as ‘the interior of the collective’ establishing it as a deep and intricate space of threshold, capable of enfolding both the intimacies of such individual experience and the mediating territories of collective public life. Taking this as a point of departure the chair explores the architectural territory that ranges between the extended, public interior and the intimate, knowable city.

Working from critical understandings of existing situations, between inside and outside, students materialise architecture across these different spatial scales. Creating coherent places that embody the concerns of contemporary society and culture in a direct, immediate and inclusive manner, in order to make them both perceivable and available to the citizen. 

Each course and project places emphasis on different aspects and components of this larger endeavour and whilst they can be taken individually, they together establish a continuous field of investigation, allowing students to develop and refine ideas within a rich and rigorous architectural framework, defined through experience and underpinned by a cohesive historical and theoretical discourse. The projects that result are ambitious in their detailed consideration of the rooms and spaces we individually and collectively inhabit, as contiguous parts of both the larger spatial and tectonic order of a building and the  urban condition in which it is situated.

This autumn, the chair of Interiors Buildings Cities will contextualise its projects through the theme of The Festive City. 

The Festive City

“During the 18th century no sharply defined borderlines existed between city planning and architecture, between architecture and decoration, between decoration and stage design, between stage design and landscape architecture.” 

Zucker, Paul (1955) Space and Movement in High Baroque City Planning

The form of the European city, its buildings and spaces have frequently been driven by the idea and nature of the festive moment, whether it is inscribed in the founding of the city itself, the positioning, uses and relationships of its representative spaces, or the situation and appearance of its buildings and institutions. Whether Sixtus V’s Baroque Rome, Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Berlin, or the repurposing of city fortifications as promenades overlooking formerly hostile landscapes, the festive city engages with ideas of the theatrical, marking the urban spaces and buildings within and without as set-pieces or scenography. Such scenes are inferred in Serlio’s engravings describing ‘tragic’ and ‘comic’ scenes. At the scale of the building Gottfried Semper describes the evolution of the language of architecture as the material embodiment of ephemeral adornment, garlands of flowers or leaves, hung from walls and columns to create a festive atmosphere. This process of translation raises the relationship between day to day life and the festive moment. Within contemporary urban culture, the nature of the festival is something other, signified by the ephemeral structure. The project which the studios of Interiors Buildings Cities will focus on for 2017/18 will instead seek to reclaim the impact of the festive, at many scales of community life, on the fundamental nature of places and spaces in which we collectively live and to consider the way in which they might respond to the challenges we face in difficult, contested times.

We will offer the following studios:

MSc1

MSc2

MSc3 

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