Show Time! - University of Westminster Degree Show
The third week of the London Festival of Architecture has been fruitful in delivering Final Degree Shows across the Capital. In my attempt to visit them all one of the stops was Open 2016, the show organized by the University of Westminster’s Department of Architecture.
Rather than approaching a sterile exhibition environment I was quite pleased that I had to find my way all the way up to the 5th floor, open several pairs of fire doors and there it was – a wonderful double-height space completely taken over by a range of architectural drawings, models and other mysterious objects.
Students from over 20 different Design Studios have successfully occupied this vast academic space and constructed a showcase of both their personal work and department’s supporting thinking and making agendas. While strolling in between series of wooden huts, plastic and cardboard enclosures and fly posted surfaces; the show started to remind me of a fairground where each enclosure becomes of an equal value as the exhibit itself.
Through this well curated but at the same time somehow spontaneous show, students have successfully communicated that apart from their architectural design knowledge they also hold a common understanding of ethical and environmental responsibilities of our profession. Equally, they seemed very confident while attempting to employ architectural theory and practice as means of engaging with global matters of concern.
One of the challenges that seemed to be knitted in many of the projects displayed was the idea that we don’t dwell our cities in a conventional way anymore and that consequentially the relationship in between the street, the block and the living room has to be rethought. ‘How does the House of Tomorrow look like?’ asked DS 10 while students from DS 22 attempted to respond to this exposed condition by critically re-reading and re-drawing the ‘Absurd-City’ for the Middle East. Studio (3)1 used the South Bank area between Westminster and Hungerford Bridges as a test bed to explore notions of democratic space and the lack of political engagement in architectural discourse. I was pleased to see the whole variety of work that recognises the duality of a pro-active architectural practice that has both the ability to expose, formulate and to respond to a socio-spatial problem.