top of page
THE BARTLETT SCHOOL OF ARCHITECT, UCL
FAULT LINES 2011-2012
''Crises are ultimately productive. They force invention. Breakdowns incubate breakthroughs. Radical destruction gives way to new forms of production ... Architectural design is the child of crisis"
Mark 1tligley, 'Space in Crisis' Volume Magazine Issue 19 (2009)
Our world has become spectacularly unpredictable. Another year has passed where we are continuously flooded by extraordinary stories of the unforeseen. It is not just our social and financial models that show signs of exhaustion but the very ground we walk on is in a state of upheaval. Between the virtual collapse of the banking network worldwide - entire countries on the verge of bankruptcy - social unrest not seen for decades, environmental changes like extreme rainfalls and crippling droughts, earthquakes and tsunamis: the state of uncertainty and change seems to be the new global paradigm. In times of upheaval comes an opportunity to leave the familiar behind and challenge conventions with alternative propositions and novel ideas. Ho1v can 1ve as architects respond to environments that face challenges of an unpredictable scale and frequency? How can Architecture become a critical tool to remedy political, cultural or environmental conditions that are straining our defenses? How can our sophisticated production methods provide solutions to the ever-growing social demands?
Our unit briefs set out to investigate sudden change and slow shifts as a potential catalyst for innovation, speculation, and change. We are interested in finding 'ad hoc' responses to the rapid pace of our times but are equally interested how to choreograph the slow and minute shifts in our surroundings that can lead to large and unexpected consequences. As a unit, we place emphasis on the unique relationship between the building and its unique immediate and wider environments and encourage our students to speculate towards architectures that are both lyrical and relevant in their response to our changing natural, cultural and social environments.
This year Unit 5 Went on an architectural adventure beyond the familiar in search of novel architectural tools for an increasingly uncertain world. Our unit explored present conditions through speculation about possible futures, considered relevance over indulgence and identified opportunities for tactical intervention. 'What if' became the mantra for the year.
The first project was sited in London. Students were asked to identify a fault line and explore an architectural response to the phenomenon of sudden change. From the streets of the recent riots, extra -ordinary pressures onto the already congested city during the Olympic games, to the bleak forecast that London might be flooded by river water or by an overwhelmed Victorian drainage network: Project 1 was a short and intense exercise. where students were asked to speculate about the present or possible future scenarios and identify sites and situations that are in demand of an immediate response. Places where rules have to be changed in order to survive. We looked at the immediate and spontaneous architecture that proves that 'necessity is the mother of invention'.
The approach to this project was experimental and the architectural propositions ranged from 1:1 built interventions to strategic master planning. Our trip to Istanbul became a test bed in our search for an original and innovative architecture. Istanbul. a multifaceted and fluid city has experienced rapid and dramatic global and local pressures. Not only is it located close to the North Anatolian fault line making it an earthquake sensitive area, it is also a city of many dualities. From its geographic location between Asia and Europe, the Golden Horn and the Bosporus. the Marmara and Black Sea to its economic divide between great wealth and poverty. The city is struggling bet11een modernity and tradition, secularism and Islamism, democracy and repression -often in unlikely and contradictory combinations. As the city is reaching out to compete as a new global capital it faces new challenges, specifically finding 11ays for (re)development on the dense fabric of the historical peninsula.
In the 2nd project, students were asked to identify sites, spaces or economies of mounting pressures that are in need of reinvention and adaption to ensure their survival. It was our intention not to slip into nostalgia but to consider the opportunities that the current developments present for the city and to freely and fearlessly engage in conversations about the city. How can the fault lines and intersections that draw the city shape the contours of new imaginings for Istanbul? Some projects were placed between desire and knowledge; others were allegorical but perfectly meaningful.
bottom of page