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Studio 3.2 – 2015/16


Tim Gough and Paolo Scianna

Your research this year will concern the question of the figure.

In the context of an unprecedented – for modern Europe – crisis of fleeing refugees, the response of Germany was, for one moment this month, exemplary: the country offered welcome. Our study trip and the location of our projects will be the ancient Germany city of Cologne. We will visit the nearby city of Aachen (also known as Aix-la-Chapelle) where, in the eighth century, the very idea of Europe was created in the empire of Charlemagne and embodied in the cathedral there. In this context we will be asking you to design housing for the homeless come from outside Europe, together with a place of worship for them (mosque, church, temple or other sacred space). The figure of the refugee in the landscape is to become a figure in their own home.

But we are also interested in other relationships to figure, figuration and the figurative. Your housing project will start from the interior, inspired and informed by the figurative paintings of Peter de Hooch (above right) or Vilhelm Hammershøi. We are interested, too, in how the interior of your worship space might be inspired by abstract painting and sculpture, such as that of Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman. What might this difference between the figurative and the abstract result in? Taking another tack, we will encourage you to see your housing as a ground (more or less unremarkable) against which the distinctive figure of the sacred space might emerge. So the tension between figure and ground (as in the Noli plan of Rome) will inform your work, and to that end some investigations of the density of cities will be undertaken. Finally, the notion of the building as a figure in the city (and landscape) will be explored through the photographic work of the Becher’s and the idea of the façade as a figurative element in a building’s composition. In this sense we are interested in how a building can add or create character within the city.

On the study trip we will visit buildings by many exceptional architects: Peter Zumthor, Herzog and de Meuron, David Chipperfield, Hans van der Laan, Rudolph Schwarz, Alvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, Sanaa, Gottfried Boehm; and we will visit some exceptional landscapes such as the unique Insel Hombroich and the industrial parks of the Ruhr. These will provide a rich source of ideas about architecture, how it is built, materiality and the placing of the figure of a building within the city – ideas which can inspire you and your final degree project.