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Show 2017 School of Architecture: Offsite, Collaborative and Cross-disciplinary

At the Royal College of Art, Architecture and Interior Design are resolutely cross-disciplinary. Dr Adrian Lahoud, Dean of the School, describes this year’s graduate exhibition as ‘a microcosm of the RCA Degree Show, betraying curious forays into neighbouring disciplines and furtive experiments with aligned and non-aligned practices'.

For the first time, the School of Architecture is displaying its graduate work offsite at the Workshop in Lambeth. This former fire engine repair workspace is used by various community organisations and provides an exciting extended setting for the School of Architecture Show, which features films in a dedicated screening area, as well as outreach workshops for young people with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

The Architecture programme is taught across seven distinct Architectural Design Studios (ADSs). The graduate projects take in global contexts, embrace and interrogate new technologies, and present critical and political research.

The focus of ADS1 is housing, concentrating on material experiments that allow students to explore the meeting of spatial design with social agendas. Niels Werner Hersmann’s project considers the nineteenth-century brick viaducts in Nine Elms as one of the few remaining areas of industry in central London. He envisions a new idea of industry for the twenty-first century, with a guild and land trust to provide infrastructure as well as integrated student housing, workshops, offices and recreational space.

ADS6 critically examines how we make things, and the impact of this on where and how we live. Elliot Rogosin has made a series of subtle sculptural interventions for the Walthamstow reservoirs, creating new ways to see and value the area through experiencing water. Andres Souto Vilaros’ considers how characteristics of objects in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse can make it into the physical world. Focusing on the tiny chapels found in Mexico City, he considers how style is a matter of class and SketchUp is a place where new forms of popular culture are developed.

In ADS9 institutions are considered through the lens of units, scales and measures. Danae Haratsis has interrogated the manipulation of minimum space standards through the classification of affordable housing. Her project questions notions of market value and compromises on space, with a series of apartments that swap size, view, balconies, ceiling height and level to all have equal value with infinite choice.

Ameneh Solati of ADS7 is working in the unique context of Iran, and has designed a student residence that acknowledges the agency of students in driving societal transformation. With subtle tweaks to the current dominant forms of architecture, she has created a porous living space, with shared communal areas.

The role architecture plays in our interaction with and understanding of the environment is the focus of ADS3. Isabel Sandeman’s project proposes a novel solution to the environmental impact of palm oil plantations in Borneo. She has designed an eco resort as a Trojan horse to help reforest disused palm oil plantations. Here a soap that contains fig seeds will be used for spa treatments, resulting in the fig seeds entering the watercourse and growing on the disused palm oil plantations and out-competing the oil palms.

Through the creation of narratives and speculative futures, ADS4 addresses digital tools and how they impact on our world. Isabel Ogden’s short film and series of objects communicate a future narrative about a world with different, competing concepts of time, using the act of waiting as a vehicle through which to understand the nuances of each temporal approach.

Looking at post capitalism, ADS5 considers how architecture interacts with, challenges or supports world systems. Kate Godding has imagined four different futures for the Bank of England, investigating how the bank’s reputation and functioning rely on its architectural presentation to reinforce the trust and faith placed in it. Her future visions include the addition of a new museum, telecommunications mast and the bank’s vaults being used as a data store.

The five platforms of the Interior Design programme present an expanded idea of what the interior is and how its design can create distinct, site-specific identities for a wide range of occupants, communities, stakeholders and clients. Each platform provides a thematic starting point that students either accept and work with, or rebel against, to develop distinct research and design projects.

The Interior Systems platform addresses the interior as part of a system or infrastructure. Kyoung Hun Lee’s project looks at the museum as a system, specifically considering the interpretation and display of the Imperial War Museum’s World War Two collection. Through the garden and building he has created a series of immersive spaces that are directly informed by the material qualities and historic narratives of each artefact, enabling visitors to have richer and more meaningful experiences.

The Interior Display platform looks at the design of displays, such as retail or exhibition spaces. This year the platform worked with Land Design Studio and the Museum of London, focusing on the curation of objects. Zi Yang has created a retail scheme that curates second-hand objects brought to the space by members of the public to be packaged with their memories and personal stories before being displayed and sold.

The exploration of the public interior and its relation to private space is the focus of the Interior Urbanism platform. From train stations to streets, students on the platform question the definition of interior and exterior, imagining whole cities as rooms. Sha Yi has created a multiple-level structure for Berwick Street Market, which stitches together all aspects of everyday life in Soho. The walkway takes people through key areas associated with Soho’s history, from a tailor to a bookshop, scripting a new story for Soho’s future.

The Interior Obsolescence platform is about value, considering ways to design for what is already built, with a forensic approach to the contexts of existing buildings, communities and spaces. Students have responded to sites ranging from an empty building in Lebanon to an abandoned asylum in Scotland. Several have responded to Greenwich Pier; Jiaji Shen designed a centre for mudlarking and jewellery design, and Sarah Rahman has created a space for remembering the unknown dead found in the river, with structures based on the ancient stele where unidentified bodies can be held in memorial.

The Interior Matter platform is about materiality, considering objects, making and materials. In response to a lack of domestic living space in cities and short-term vacant retail spaces, Pierre Bottriaux has created a system for booking spaces and a range of modular, adaptable furniture to suit diverse needs. Also tackling problems of urban living, Braelyn Hamill has found a solution for poor air quality in the London Underground. Her design for the near future uses rock salt and plants to filter the air pulled through the underground tunnels when the trains pass through the tunnels.

The School of Architecture show is open to the public 29 June – 2 July.

See more information here.

The Royal College of Art is grateful for the support of LG, who provided the LG UltraWide Monitors for the Show.