Students’ Briefs

This project explores the potential of various near future smart materials, some of which might be ‘grown’ out of the complex material geology of post-industrial area.

Certain micro-organisms grown and engineered, using the architectural context as a feed is employed to harvest new natural-polymer.

Generating something of new value for local artists in Hackney Wick where have two notable characteristics: one is a historical “pocket of poverty”(Baker 1995); the other shows highest concentration of creative industries per m2 in UK.

The semi-living research interface needs proper environment such as architectural strategy to cultivate nature like system – temperature in a controlled area, feeds provision and metabolic rate, which is transplanted to urban petri dish.

Further research will explore hybrids of new smart materials and materials from existing local buildings and landscape. Building at the end of life provide Caco3 powder , minerals, and water purifier. Empty industrial warehouse generate glucose through algae photosynthesis on the gable roof top. Micro organisms and water are gathered from Lea Canal through glass pipes which also transport harvested materials and by-products.

This bottom up approach questions traditional notions of architectural production as solely ‘building’, instead explores emerging ecologies of ‘growing’ as a new hybrid architectural language. Also, this new spontaneous ecology could offer alternatives for thinking about how we could help local community to revive in an era of late capitalism.

Royal college of art WIP show _ 2012.01.31 ~ 02.06

Royal college of art WIP show _ 2012.01.31 ~ 02.06


The extent of boundless movement of water has led to its description as an ‘organ’ mediating between earth and sky.  Existing in a range of material states, under varying conditions of pressure and temperature, the project hypothesizes water as a complex ‘living’ architectural material.

Weather material marks the passage of time – it punctuates our everyday lives, informing patterns of behaviour. Olafur Eliasson stresses that people ‘have learnt to use and relate to the weather as a mode of time.’ The consideration of time is fundamental to my approach, and in the context of the transitory, 4-week Olympic Games phenomenon, my architectural proposition is expressed as a series of events with multiple durations. In relation to this approach, the notion of the journey as a choreographed movement through space and time, operates as an underlying strategy. Michael Webb describes the journey as ‘an interval between the memory of the place one has just left and the anticipation—contrasted with the actuality—of arrival at one’s destination.’ As a flow of material matter, my chosen site – the Lea River, inherently denotes a journey. My proposition employs the typology of the ‘strip’ to support leisure programmes, canal-boat services and water management infrastructure, along the river.

Designed to facilitate the Olympic legacy plans for 11,000 new homes and swathes of leftover sporting facilities, a bathhouse is hypothesized as part of a leisure strip on the banks of the Lea. The bathhouse is conceived as a journey through carefully curated ‘weathers’, that invite juxtapositions of seasonal activity. Inspired by films such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) the bathhouse is conceptualized as a separate reality in which weather is used to construct an alternative perception of time. Here, architecture facilitates a relationship between the body and sensation. The relationship of our bodies to water is exposed further through acts of sweating and shivering. The bathhouse ultimately questions rituals pertaining to washing in contemporary society.

Water is explored in more detail at a domestic scale, in relation to the nomadic lifestyles of canal-boat inhabitants. With the inability to house washing machines on their boats, a launderette is proposed as a social focal-point for this community. This references the historical industries of soap-making and dry-cleaning in the area. Micro-weathers – the agitation of water, heating, drying, and steaming, form programmatic connections with the bathhouse.

The River Lea runs through a wide flood plain which is subject to periodic flooding from its banks. The project aims to integrate systems of water management into the ‘strip’ that tie into existing infrastructure such as Old Ford Lock, the Old Ford Water Recycling Plant and the Middlesex Filter Beds. The water-tower system is proposed as a technique to store and pressurize water and store energy. The strategy proposes controlled flooding to create a series of temporal beach hubs that facilitate a wide range of water and land-based activities along the river. This controlled flooding can also enable the cooling of the urban environment to combat the effects of the urban heat island or in the circumstance of a heat-wave.

Weather is often cited as the last form of ‘uncontrollable nature’, and from the invention of the umbrella to complex systems of forecasting, humans have been perpetually fascinated with controlling it. Given the manner in which the Chinese designed precipitation out of the 2008 Olympic event, the project considers the British approach to London’s water-cycle activity in 2012 and beyond. ‘Although many tourists may dislike the rain and fog, this prevalent weather condition has bred a distinct psychological and cultural heritage that is unique to that part of the world, therefore constituting its own ideal.’

Hackney Wick Healing Centre

How could Hackney Wick Healing centre inform the society of serenity in the age of information and innovate a new sustainable social model?

Hackney Wick and Fish Islands consists of a demographic of working class residents, young artists and industrial workers. The health profiles show that The Wick (Residential area including North of Hackney Wick and South of Homerton) has a higher rate of health problems over the UK average, especially in Mental health (47% over UK average) and premature deaths (i.e. cancer; 57% over UK average). Interestingly, 8% of the population (8,000 people) in the Wick are ‘carers’ providing support to ill individuals between 1-50 hours a week. This conjours my question of a social energy that needs to be nurtured.

With over 50% unemployed working age residents, the rate of residents’ mental health problems also appear to ascend. Since the start of the economic crisis, 2.1 million more prescriptions anti-depressant were given in 2008 than that in 2007, there is an increasing demand for mental health care while the NHS budget being cut, it is exactly the social energy that is apparent in The Wick that needs to be celebrated.

Social critic and writer, John Thackara, illustrated on his website ‘Doors of Perception’ that 85% of the health care happened outside the medical system, focuses on the effect of spiritual, parental, mentor, peer and working relationships. Combining the recent study of ‘The Placebo Effect’, research shows that patients being given a sugar pill recovered better than ones without; patients being given 4 sugar pills recovered better than ones being given two; patients being given a salt water injection recovered better than that of 4 sugar pills.This phenomenon suggests that the power of mind could be over the physical power and touches upon the how people are so influenced by media, memory and other’s opinion.

We are living in an economy based on consumption: I’m interested in how a shifting paradigm of architecture could assist and reinforce a shift in minds- shifting citizens of consumption to citizens of social energy and emotion. Taking the precedent of The People’s Supermarket in London, members join to receive discounts on the goods, provided that they give time into helping out in the store. I’m interested in a social over economical community run centre, that seek to provide serenity and social caring environment to help healing of patients suffering disorders or mental health problems. The centre provides not only healing spaces for patients but also a space of ‘little visual stimulation’, such as darkness, and allow time for artists to use as a space of contemplation and gathering thoughts away from the frantic life of London and lively energy of the Hackney Wick artist neighbourhood.

This will be achieved by a new typology of building that embraces the public and provides very little cues of conventional architectural arrangement, in order to encourage users to engage, reinterpret and re-adapt the space. Gradation of natural light would play a large part of shaping the mood of the spaces where darkness is addressed equally as important as light.

I’m interested in the development of fibre optics as a building fabric, which may be able to double up with transferring information in the form of light signals. As a metaphorical building material, the property of fibre optics would be in part inverted to use as a pure form of light transmittance, providing the therapy centre a place of retreat of simplifying all the external stimuli into a gradation of light intensity.

The property of fiber optics provides an opportunity to transfer light from a place of abundance to a place of deprivation without energy consumption. This could also induce an experiential and ephemeral effect of lighting in the interior. With further development of this material, it could be used as an aggregate for concrete to provide a heavy materiality in the healing centre for solidity and enclosure. The centre could also incorporate the latest technology of transmitting information through LED’s light intensity.

The end goal is to develop a self sustained healing centre that grows and can be adapted by the users over time, providing free social health care to the local residents and innovate a social over economic model of health care during the time of economic recession. The project emphasis on the time of presence, the authenticity of experience. National Health Services in the UK currently consumes 17% of public budgets and has a high consumption of energy; could a shifting paradigm of health care model invest in the potential of social energy as suppose to oil energy?


In 1843, Karl Marx described “religion as the opiate of the people”

Nearly 125 years later, Guy Debord wrote that “The spectacle is a permanent opium war which aims to make people identify goods with commodities and satisfaction with survival that increases according to its own laws. But if consumable survival is something which must always increase, this is because it continues to contain privation. If there is nothing beyond increasing survival, if there is no point where it might stop growing, this is not because it is beyond privation, but because it is enriched privation”

This has been understood to mean that capitalism became the new sedative of the masses.

With protesters on the streets, and people occupying parts of cities around the globe, it has become increasingly clear that capitalism is losing its credibility at a frantic rate, which begs the question, what does the future hold for our societies?

The Occupy London protests have hosted an interesting development to this ongoing process; the integration of the Church into the debate. With members of the Church resigning rather than take a political stance over the protests, and with the news that St Paul’s will host a permanent platform for such debates, is it possible that people are finding sanctuary within an institution with strong moral values, despite their own religious views, or indeed lack of.

Met Police figures show that, although a safer area that other parts of Hackney, there is a strip through Hackney Wick that plays host to large numbers of robberies and personal assaults. Are these types of crime the product of capitalist values in the same way that the London Riots have been seen to be the underprivileged taking what they feel they deserve? Is the media, particularly marketing and branding forces, to blame for the types of crime that can affect us all?

With the Olympic Games on the horizon [both physically and temporally] Hackney Wick faces an uncertain future. Will it remain a trendy, artistic, independent community, or will it become polluted by the developer driven gentrification engulfing the area? And will we see the arrival of Topshop, McDonalds, Foxtons and Fitness First?

Anyone who has written a Design and Access Statement for a decent size project will know the emphasis that is places on ‘Designing Out Crime’. This would suggest that architecture can affect people’s behaviour. We acknowledge that a well designed prison can improve behaviour, so is it possible to use architecture to assist the moral values of an area?

Having begun this project by looking at objects and observation, and the power of shifting context, shifting time, perspective and displacement, I ask what elements have been displaced by the Olympics, and what values displaced by capitalism can be relocated in Hackney Wick.

This process will involve a gridded analysis of positive and negative values and their typological counterparts, to produce a kit of parts that can be deployed in a site specific manner. Most importantly however, is the identification of key, specific issues in the area that are to be improved upon.

At a moment in history where potential for paradigm shift looms, it is important to ask what you want to allow to change, and what needs to be preserved. Marx described our society as and economic ‘base’ that influences a moral ‘superstructure’. I ask, can architecture inspired by religion inject an area with the ability to prevail against negative values by increasing and protecting the positive moral code that religion is based upon, by influencing the make up of the economic base? Are vernacular aesthetics powerful enough to inspire a community, and if so, how can these be deployed in a modern and technically advanced way?

Perhaps the answer, at least programmatically, is an ecological cathedral of time, matter and energy; a space which connects people to the human and natural worlds, both within and outside the bounds of our atmosphere. Maybe, through such engagement with our world and also with society, it is possible to establish the principles of a progressive democratic and ecological political partnership, both as a means of governing but also as a way of making our world.

An economist says ‘more for you is less for me.’ But the lover knows that more of you is more for me too.