While in many schools students are increasingly working only through their computer screens, we are getting more and more ambitious in the material nature of our work, as is evident from some of our work in second and third year this year.
Constructing a 3D computer model is a very different design activity to building a physical one, and even to where we use a computer to help do the latter through 3D printing or laser cutting. Working in a computer there are not the same opportunities to explore materials and space as you work, as the computer screen makes everything a scaleless image. By working with physical things there is an opportunity to investigate the materiality of ideas and how to construct them through our experience of them.
While models are often thought of as miniature versions of what we propose, we can also think of them as modelling our spatial experience of the proposal, situating our thinking and helping us think through the eyes of those we design for.
This year there have been some fantastic examples of students doing this. As ever Studio 55 have wowed us with the craft of their large scale models, especially those of second year Evgeny Kandinsky and third year James Goreing. These have been at the sort of scale where our spatial experience of the models becomes something like our experience of the buildings that they propose, allowing Evgeny and James to question aspects of their designs that are hard to see with smaller work. James, with help from his Studio 55 colleagues, has also been building a 1:1 installation for the Carnaval del Pueblo, a working cocktail machine that will supply the event with plenty of the classic Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha.
In Studio 01, which I lead, although we are more known for our drawings, Katerina Demetriou has developed a very innovative series of models which she has made in a worm’s eyes projection. Whereas models are often things we look down on from above, which can sometimes encourage architects to take a detached view of their proposals, Katerina has modeled her canopies and ceiling structures from the perspective which they will be viewed from, putting herself into her own work and into her site.