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MArch Architecture – Unit 2 – 2016/17

Unit 2 Intro_16-17
1956 and all that…. settling a remarkable landscape
Tom Coward + Simon Henley

2016 marks the 60th anniversary of CIAM X and the birth of Team X. Created mid-century, and so fully infused with the reality of modernity, the group highlighted limitations in a narrow view of modernism and demanded more. As a unit we will discuss Team X practice and the theories within structuralism and semiotics – not as thoughts in a now distant moment of time, but as critical dialogues that both predate Team X – and continue in the making of modern form and understanding of experience today. A flight, bus, train and taxi (via the seaside) will take us to the medieval hill city Urbino in the Marche region of Italy – where we will explore on foot, and especially study through drawing the significant works of Team X member Giancarlo de Carlo.

Directly referring to the little known treaty ‘CIVILIA – The end of Suburban Man’ we will spin within the planning notion of ’Town and Country’, bucking the ‘middle way between concentration and diffusion’ – and consider an alternative periphery to the common suburb – and propose settlement through remarkable landscape.

We will find our landscape in Devon, a county with 1.1 million residents, to a particular valley on the mainline 30 mins between Plymouth and Exeter. Dartington Hall is a unique institution and estate – a social enterprise that welcomes 800,000 visitors a year to enjoy its 1,200 acres – all self-seeded through the ‘many sided life’ approach founded in 1925 by Dorothy & Leonard Elmhurst. We will explore the diverse estate economy and culture – ‘Learning through doing’ – we will watch in Gropius’s Barn cinema, stretch in Lescaze’s gymnasium, and eat in the medieval hall.

Prospecting across the estate, engaging in their diverse land use model and their future project ‘abundant life’ – we will both individually and collectively develop designs for a 300 home settlement.

The final thesis project will build up from an appreciation of landscape quality – to living – to collective settlement – and to civilis – with creative reuse or creation of new congregational spaces.

The studio will use large format drawing, collage and image creation to explore form and character, alongside materially led models, using manual and rapid prototyping techniques as appropriate.