Interiors Buildings Cities

Interiors Buildings Cities

Interiors Buildings Cities explores territories that range from the extended interior to the intimate city. Walter Benjamin described the city as ‘the interior of the collective’ establishing it as a deep and intricate space of threshold, which enfolds both the intimacies of individual experience and the mediating territories of collective public life. Working from critical understandings of existing situations, between inside and outside, our students materialise architecture across these scales. Creating places that embody the concerns of contemporary society and culture in a direct, immediate and inclusive manner, making them both perceivable and available to the citizen.

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. Whilst its courses can be taken individually, they together establish a continuous field of investigation, allowing students to develop and materialise ideas within a rich and rigorous architectural framework, defined through experience and underpinned by a cohesive historical and theoretical discourse.

Collectively concerned with situation, continuity and the ways in which buildings are both made and used over time, these begin with the undergraduate minor course, Spaces of Display, which explores the transformation of existing urban interiors; examining their relation with the street, through the elaborated space of the window. Run as a series of parallel studios that bring together academics and leading practitioners, the MSc1 course, The House in the City, considers detailed material and spatial programmes for proto-typical city buildings, which might complete an urban block, create an urban interior or renegotiate an urban edge. The MSc2 course, Thinking through Making, also encompasses parallel design research investigations into thinking about, making and representing architecture, up to and including 1:1 scale. The Graduate Studio, MSc3 and 4, establishes the Chair’s principal themes for each year, through its ongoing reflection upon The Urban Institution; exploring their representative, spatial, social and political roles and their impact on the life and form of the city at each scale, from the interior outwards.

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 

To sign up for our weekly Digest, in which we share student work, relevant texts, lectures and events, click here.