Studio 4

2016/17 Design as Distributed Agency


Studio Four will explore the idea of design as distributed agency. We claim that the ability to design and make change is always shared, and to extend the potential of this is important democratically. This starting point acknowledges that designers are operating in interdependent economic, social, political, technical and cultural networks. We also understand that the materials with which we design are not passive- they are acting on, with, and in response to our gestures and decisions as a designer.

We are interested in the process of design as one of making/ remaking/ repairing/ modifying/ hacking/ and crafting with others, both human and non-human. We consider those who design, occupy and use buildings, objects and spaces to have the potential to do so in creative and even subversive ways.

As a Studio we will be intervening in local and social specificities- and therefore we will be making close explorations and careful mappings, through time.

Together, Studio Four will do this through developing project scenarios that draw on the past, explore the present and speculate about potential futures.


The parallel modules of Year 4 are:

The Praxis of Architecture 1: Theory and Recent History
This is the first in a related pair of modules (with The Praxis of Architecture 2: Expanding Practice) which form, alongside Design Studio 4, an introduction to the M.Arch course.   This module provides an introduction to important architectural theory, history and practice from the late 20th Century to the present day. The term praxis refers to an understanding of architecture as both theoretical and practical discipline, and thus the module encourages an appreciation of how different positions and approaches to architectural design and practice emerge from an understanding of and engagement with theoretical and historical ideas.
The module is designed to prepare students for postgraduate architectural design, as well as to develop academic research and writing.  Students produce a written illustrated essay which focuses on one architect or architectural practice/collective, and discusses the interplay between theory and practice in their work.  A specific brief for this will be issued each year, designing the content to align with the Design Studio 4 agenda.
[15 credits]

The Praxis of Architecture 2: Expanding Practice
This module introduces one of the key agendas of the course, which is to interrogate the continually evolving and expanding nature of architectural practice. The module straddles both traditional models as well as its increasingly prolific alternative forms.  The module also introduces cultural, theoretical and practical issues relating to contemporary architectural practice.
Given their position in both academia and practice, students are encouraged to critically consider a rich array of examples of architectural practice, and consider them in light of their own experiences of practice.
[15 credits]


Previous years: