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ADS6: The Deindustrial Revolution – Garden of Making

Tutors: Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono & Guan Lee

‘There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song.’ 
— Masanobu Fukuoka

Do Less to Do More

Masanobu Fukuoka’s plea asks us to consider how to do less to the environment while having a similar outcome. When it comes to sustainability, should we do less to do more? This year in ADS6 we are continuing our theme of de-industrialisation, focussing on the role we play towards ecological sustainability in architectural production and, critically, an examination of the relationship between the construction industry and social-environmental wellbeing. Under the sub-theme ‘Garden of Making’, we invite you students to integrate their design projects with an urgent call for greener and more thoughtful approaches toward the environmental implications of our actions as architects and inhabitants of our natural world. Ecological stability can not only preserve what is ethically and aesthetically sound, but also what is economically expedient. Sustainability in the building industry and architecture is not solely an economic problem. Green design strategies, material performance aims and assessment methodologies must emphasise ways in which our future architectural development can mitigate local resource depletion, global climate change and environmental degradation. The difficult question for us as a community of designers is how we can address these difficult concerns without turning to simple eco-determinism? Or without truly considering the complex social and cultural dimensions of urban life?

The Beginning of an End: Chittagong Ship–breaking Yard. Photo: Arshia Hatami, ADS6, 2017
The Beginning of an End: Chittagong Ship–breaking Yard. Photo: Arshia Hatami, ADS6, 2017

Give More than You Take

For generations, the organicist dictum that ‘everything is connected to everything else’ has presided over and underpinned many discourses on our biosphere and its sustainability. The word ‘ecology’ was coined by Ernst Haeckel in the mid-nineteenth century in reference to this relational connectivity between the living world and the environment – essentially, the very small to the very big, insolubly and uninterruptedly, through nutrition and respiration, with circumambient material and energetic material. (See Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, The Biosphere And The Noösphere, 1926 trans. 1986.) Haeckel made this vivid link with what he saw through the microscope, a relationship with the world we cannot see with our naked eye. This link is not just a physical one, but also a conceptual leap. The ecological equilibrium which we strive to establish in many ways is not merely about our physical surroundings. As the architectural historian Richard Ingersoll points out, attempts to restore the ecological balance of the biosphere have profound social relevance. As he explains, ‘If urban planning and architectural policies are reduced to mechanical solutions based on cause and effect rather than being grounded in a social concept of ecology, they will not easily adhere to a frame of social justice.’ Physical processes such as the cultivation of land, or making of tools, can, at different scales, be set against investigations of cultural meaning. In The Gardener’s Year, Karel Capek warned, ‘You must give more to the soil than you take away.’ Rooted in the ground, the word ‘culture’ rooted in the ground draws a parallel undeniably close to home. How can we engage with the environment we inhabit beyond a pastoral argument, or the naivety of political correctness? In order to develop sustainable architectures, how can design strategies draw from approaches employed in other fields of study?

Fundamental – Rite III. Christopher Fischlein, ADS6, 2018
Fundamental – Rite III. Christopher Fischlein, ADS6, 2018

Enchantment and Not Procurement

With overwhelming evidence of the negative and irreversible changes that human developments have had on the environment, it is time we take took stock. Have we lost touch with the greater surroundings that nurture us? Have we forgotten how to work responsibly with what is naturally available to us? Have we abandoned valuable knowledge about nature imparted to us through the ages? ‘Garden of Making’ is a theoretical vehicle, a space for experimentation and a stepping stone to re-establish through making, and over time becomes what we have lost, forgotten and abandoned. The garden’s purpose can be practical and also pleasurable. According to the Italian scholar and urbanist Pietro Laureano, the origin of garden has more to do with enchantment, than it does with procurement. (See Robert Pogue Harrison, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, 2008.) While a garden is geographical and cultural, our desire to work with the land around us suggests a more primal need. A chore or joy, the nurturing of a garden suggests an intimacy which is personal, applying oneself and submitting oneself within a limited area, and which relishes compliance with nature. This turning – or listening – to the natural forces in acquiescence is not a protest, but rather a way to regain control. In a multitude of small ways, we must and need to reconnect with those elements that can summon growth. Fundamental rules apply to our proposed garden – it is not a representation of a productive environment, but rather an open space that holds a series of test beds for the growing of ideas.

Aesthetics of Appearing. Marie Ramsing, ADS6, 2018
Aesthetics of Appearing. Marie Ramsing, ADS6, 2018

‘Saving the world is important and architecture has a role to play, but the map according to which that can be achieved is far from clear.’
– Mark Jarzombek

Practical or Practicable

In ADS6, we work with materials and examine processes of making as a means of researching. The ‘Garden of Making’ is introduced as an additional tool to evaluate how we can engage with land– and nature-based materials as a way of responding to the inevitable questions of sustainability and conservation. We are not asking you students to design gardens – you may investigate these design principles as cradles for other ideas and inspirations – but the aim here is to think of them as a premise to tackle bigger issues. Like a gardener who is also a maker, we advocate combining hands-on participation with keen observation, together with the cultivation of patient attentiveness to detail and engagement with the roots of issues with openness. Working and honing one’s skill in the workshop becomes a form of gardening. Can the garden be a suitable metaphor for healthy, sustaining world views which strengthen people’s connections to the environment? How can these connections transcend the practical to be practicable?  The garden is an obvious starting point, but what lies beyond it are far greater challenges far greater. 

‘Since the beginning of human time, we have expressed ourselves through the garden we have made. They live on as our private beliefs and public values, good and bad.’
– Mark Francis

‘Garden of Making’ focuses on notions of fabrication, not for the making of objects devoid of context, but rather as a way to question how means of production can interact with and respond to the environment itself? Our idea of context rejects data-driven and object-orientated tendencies in design practices. By explicitly asking design questions around ideas of place, we are framing the ‘Garden’ as a practical extension to the house, a vital appendix. The garden as a room, connected to an adjacent room, sets up theoretical positions with multiple perspectives – outside looking in and inside looking out. This theoretical setting for architecture, which shifts where, when and how spatial interventions can register with the public, brings meaning from the inner core to the surface. Through hands-on investigative work, we want you to consider what craft means and how an emphasis on making and material can serve as a framework for experimentation in ecological design? ADS6 encourages you to pick your own site for the design project. The way you formulate your project is specific and personal. However, environmental sustainability is not a bolt-on, or tick box exercise, but central to the theoretical structure of your project brief. We are interested in projects which create links between place, academia and industry, balancing a strong pragmatism between craft, collaboration and the exploring of ideas from place to architecture.

A Tajo Abierto, Joaquín Garcia Calderón Mendoza del Solar, ADS6, 2019
A Tajo Abierto, Joaquín Garcia Calderón Mendoza del Solar, ADS6, 2019

Resolution and Reconciliation

What we are looking for is not about right or wrong answers, but rather about prioritising design resolution above reconciliation. Garden is an evocative word and – as a theme – one that can afford a direct and unambiguous ground for design propositions. The pairing with making can generate discussions around new architectural territory not yet defined. Our brief this year combines gardening and making as a new practice – the inherent potential of green, sustainable and regenerative design approaches is intended to create necessary, timely changes  in developments of architecture. Together with your personal interests and the setting out of your research agenda, our ADS6 theme invites you to explore potential contradictions and inconsistencies of human and non-human ecologies in relation to craft and making. Architectural solutions can make immediate and meaningful contributions to different communities, walking, flying or swaying. One of the most significant differences – and key to this discussion – lies in the ways that uncertainty around the long-term outcomes associated with different design decisions can be acknowledged and accommodated in design. Tackling environmental issues is a daunting task, one that is vital for generations to come. However, this does not mean it is a task for the future, but an impulse that: we can build on what has been done so far, doing all we can, one garden at a time.

Theatroforum Moscow. Valeria Laura Szegal, ADS6, 2019
Theatroforum Moscow. Valeria Laura Szegal, ADS6, 2019


Guan Lee is a practicing architect, lecturer and director of Grymsdyke Farm. He undertook his architectural studies at McGill University, Montreal, the Architectural Association, London, and Bartlett School of Architecture, where he completed his PhD on the relationship between architectural craft, making and site. In addition to his extensive experience as an educator, his own practice explores digital fabrication in relation to hands-on building processes in a range of materials, including clay, concrete and plaster.

Clara Kraft Isono is an architect, academic and filmmaker. Since 2013 she has been running ADS6 with Guan Lee and Satoshi Isono.  She is director of Kraft Isono, a multidisciplinary film and architecture studio. Currently she is a PhD Fellow at the London Film School were she also completed an MA in filmmaking. She is a fully qualified and registered architect and has been teaching since 2000. 

Satoshi Isono is an architect, furniture and interior designer and an associate at the London-based creative design consultancy Universal Design Studio. He studied Furniture and Interior Design in Tokyo before graduating from the Architectural Association, London. During his study, he has been awarded several scholarships, including the Alvin Boyarsky Scholarship, as well as grants from the EU-US Government Fund for research projects in Europe and United States.

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