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THE BARTLETT SCHOOL OF ARCHITECT, UCL
RESTLESS GROUND 2015-2016
Our unit continues to explore the relationship between land use, technology, and science and the synthesis of inherent cultural identity. This year, Tokyo became the test bed for our investigations.
In the 60's a group of apprentice Japanese architects dreamed an alternative future for cities and defined a new architectural vocabulary, giving birth to an architectural movement called 'Metabolism'. The name, taken from the biological concept, derived from the idea that architecture and cities, like living organisms, share the ability to grow, reproduce, transform and respond to their specific environment. Their ideas were grand and surprising. They combined philosophical references with new discoveries in science; for example, interweaving ideas about the structure of DNA with elements of Buddhist thinking on change and growth, resulting in profoundly poetic and radical visions. Now, at a time when Japan is experiencing the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, a stagnant economy and a significant shift in demographics, and where over 70% of the area is mountainous and notoriously difficult to inhabit, what are the lessons we can learn from the Metabolists today.
Cities, generally considered resilient to rapidly transient conditions, are in constant flux, exposed to their own
geodynamics, shifting patterns of behavior and demographics. As a unit, we are interested in exploring an architecture that is open-ended and not a finished product; architectural propositions that can adapt, mutate and respond to the dynamic nature of the restless urban landscape; a socially the benevolent edict, where creativity and daring lead to fantastical but perfectly possible futures.
We started the year in the workshop: 'Dreamland' was a model-based project that became a miniature surrogate of the city, super-specific yet a siteless urban landscape in constant flux, encapsulating its past and present as a foundation for its future. We approached the unit's work as an 'Expo', an experimental assembly of the individual works into a whole that depicted an intensified and forward-thinking version of the city of today. Our main building project started with the field trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. Here, we experienced a cit!:j that Bognat describes as an endless agglomeration of man!:! cities and villages - a hundred different cities smashed into one, remaining a 'dream machine', where the parts are more in focus than the whole. Both Tokyo and Kyoto offered an opportunity and fertile ground to critically rethink the concepts of permanence, impermanence and genius loci.
Christina Garbi ,
Yidong (Isabel) Li,
Minghan (Tom) Lin,
Yangzi (Cherry) Guo, Niema Jafari,
Kate Woodcock-Fowles, Yehan Zheng
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