Space For Interpretation
Thamestown is a temporary scheme for the town of Thamesmead, a failed housing estate that is currently undergoing a major regeneration. The self-built scheme enables the residents to construct their own town centre during the period of the regeneration, where they lack a central public zone. The basic kit-of-parts structures would be put together using materials and tools found at a typical hardware store, enabling an simple and economic construction.
What sources do you look at in terms of magazine, books, (films) and websites as source for inspiration?
I was first struck by the visual quality of the images created by several practises such as Fala Atelier and OMMX, which led me to the use of collage as a medium. I take visual and compositional cues from various sources. In art, Hockney and Hopper are an obvious source of inspiration and in film I’m naturally a fan of the work of Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick and the careful consideration of the composition and art direction in their works—I also quite like the whimsical-ness of Anderson’s films!
The magazine Apartamento is great too, which focuses on the occupants and stories of spaces rather than the architect and idealised photographed spaces. I like to have a flick through it to see how spaces might be appropriated or filled with objects.
Recently there has been a surge in the appropriation of silhouettes as those of Hockney, what is your take on this?
I feel this surge has been led by a few young practises such as Fala Atilier, OMMX and DOGMA, which has expanded this use of collage through the sharing of their work on social media such as Pinterest and Tumblr. I think whats really captured people about this way of representing work is the fresh take on the ‘architectural visual’ which are often hyperrealistic or idealistic versions of architecture.
Using collage as a medium for representing architecture allows the architect to express ideas without saying too much, leaving the images partially open to interpretation to the viewer. The people in Hockney’s and Hopper’s paintings tend to be ambiguous in what they are doing, so gives the viewer room to interpret what might happen in a space, whereas photographic silhouettes can often dictate specific activities in a space.
To what extent does the collage as a tool which establishes new meaning between fragments affect the way your proposal is perceived?
I tend to keep the content in my collages to a minimum, partially keep the images uncluttered but also to give the viewer room to interpret them. Whilst keeping the images relatively simple to allow each viewer to perceive the spaces differently, I do establish what the materiality, form and lighting in a space so to give a general idea of the space. Similarly to how postmodernism collaged architectural styles and forms, using collage as a medium can give a sense of humour and whimsicality to the images through the juxtaposition or simplification of fragments.
How does the central perspective influence the image and the way the architecture is perceived?
Using a central perspective came through studying the successful compositions of artworks and film shots by the like of Hockney and Kubrick. The symmetry of the central perspective gives the images a visual balance and an comprehensive view of the space.
For this project, the images are predominantly without perspective, but maintain a visual balance. The form of the structures are each based upon an existing typology (eg. church, factory, market) so the images are more about evoking the symbology of these typologies (For example, the saw-tooth roof of the workshop building) as opposed to showing the spatial qualities. The central framing of the images allow the form to be seen in its two dimensional form.
What defined the horizontal format?
The horizontal format for this project was more of a natural progression from my previous work where I had formatted the collages in a square frame. It might have also originated from the time someone described my collages as ‘postcard-like’.