Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Electric Edens

(Image: LogPLug, David Greene. Image sourced from here

So, school term has started and once again I am teaching a diploma studio at UCA, Canterbury. This year's theme revolves around the rural and I am aiming for a kind of super-charged, high-tech, neo-psychedelic vernacular. With a bit or rural brutalism (rutalism?) thrown in. 

Here's the brief. More to follow, on a specially bucolic network themed tumblr site.

“As an ideal aspired to over centuries, the village, traditional or model, cannot suddenly be consigned to limbo, regarded as an irrelevancy or an ineffective solution to the problems of modern life.”

The final chapter of Gillian Darley’s book Villages of Vision – entitled No New Villages? – ends with a provocation. What would a modern village look like? What does it mean to build in the countryside in the early 21st century, with all the cultural, economic and ecological issues associated with it?

Following last year’s foray into Ruburbia – the rural edge of suburbia – the studio will venture out into the countryside proper. The focus will be on the design of new rural settlements. We will look at the economic, social and ecological issues facing rural communities and explore the symbolic and cultural associations of the countryside. In doing so we will focus on the role of modernity within rural life.

Modernity is intimately bound up with the processes of industrialisation and urbanisation. What place does it have outside the city? Is modernity inimical to rural life, which values tradition and heritage?  Is it possible to be modern and rural at the same time? 

The lure of the bucolic is a recurring theme within architecture, a form of anti-modernity that runs from the Arts and Crafts through the garden city movement and onto the work of Archigram and beyond. David Green's prediction of a globalised, network culture suggests an ability for us to live anywhere, no longer tied to the city. Whilst a beatific rural life is seen as an antidote to the problems of urbanisation, it also raises questions about sustainability, technology, land use and infrastructure.

This research will form the background to proposals for new rural settlements and specific design proposals within them. The first semester will involve research into modern village forms along with design, film and video-based projects. During the second semester 4th year students will focus on civic/public buildings within rural settlements whilst 5th year and MA students will have a wider remit to develop the topic into individual thesis projects.

1 comment:

Murphy said...

Sounds very interesting Charles.