2009 - 2010: Innumerable Eccentricities and the Hedingham Report
Neil Spiller, Phil Watson
"Louis Aragon, the poet, in talking about Collage art, had said that
it is a method more akin to magical operations than to painting. The
Collage piece, which is an object in its own right, is put into a larger
context, which contains other pieces that are unrelated to the first
and to one another. The result is that the pieces are transformed by
chance association. An electric bulb by itself is an electric bulb but
when put in a picture it has entered into a new context and may become
for the artist a young girl."1
Now is an exciting time to be an architect. Technology is allowing architects to mix and augment the actual with the virtual, question the inertness of materials and vicariously architecture, link and network all manner of spaces and phenomena, create reflexive spatial relationships, blend the organic and the inorganic and be non-Luddite about ecology and sustainability. Simultaneously the aged doctrines of Modernism are being questioned, decoration and baroque distortion is respectable again. The 'everyday' has proved a fecund breeding ground for new ideas. Manufacturing processes are being liberated from manual calculation and time-consuming fabrication protocols; digital craft is having its genesis. Collaborative working practices are dissolving previously jealously defended distinct disciplinary boundaries. Narrative is also finding its way into architectural work. The whole issue of what might constitute architecture is up for grabs.
In 1984-5 Peter Wilson and his students considered the fading stately home and grounds belonging to the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava in Clandeboye, County Down Ulster. There intention was to investigate a range of regenerative strategies, which appropriate to the ambiance of the place and project a useful vision of the future, balancing private, public and institutional requirements. A document, 'The Clandboye Report', was produced in 1985.
Now 25 years later Unit 19 will conduct a similar, different and contemporary series of exercises in and around the historic estate of Hedingham Castle in Essex. Each student will produce their own 'Hedingham Report' and vicariously contribute to the discussion of this most rarefied architectural brief.
Unit 19's first, swift move to inaugurate the cascade of architectural ideas will be to investigate the magical operations of collage and blend these operations with the Innumerable eccentricities of Cartography. Further it will re-use and redefine the 'list of stimulant' described in the Excursus of Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter's 'Collage City' i.e.: nostalgia producing instruments, stabilizers, set pieces, gardens and ambiguous and composite buildings in a rural estate and medieval village setting.
1Gauss, Charles E., The Aesthetic Theories of French Artists, The John Hopkins Press, 1949, p.85.