*nominated for 3 awards including Silver Presidents Meda
BECOMING is a critical exploration of modes of architectural practice and education in the architecture school. The free reign given to the design student affords opportunities to pursue what they are truly interested in, becoming increasingly obsessed with their work. Seeing the process as intoxicating through passion, control and competition the project acknowledges ‘cult-like’ qualities of the architectural profession and the mediation of these cultic conditions through processes, tools and practices embedded in the education of the architect.
BECOMING unfolds these psychic conditions through the analogous environment of virtual reality, where the tutor is asked to become the student, inverting power relations. The project critiques the very system it is embedded in, and questions the modes of practice of architects and architectures.
Derived from Jonathan Swift, the project becomes a metanarrative, using scale to tease out experiences of the student within a virtual world. These parallels start to question architecture beyond education, into practice where the intensity of commitment continues. Through an assembly of the different spaces of architectural education, this project has sought to generate an architecture of intoxicating intensities and emotive experience, testing and exploring the potential of virtual reality as both design driver and critical design practice.
Who influences you graphically?
Illustrations from François Schuiten, an architect and illustrator who mixed his own life experiences with the imaginary and phantasmagorical.
What defined the method of representation of the project? What is the effect and purpose of the comic like graphic?
The project derived from investigations into Gullivers Travels, the use of scale to implicate psychoanalytical experiences. The story denotes the self, Gulliver’s child-like exploration in a series of spaces that are estranged to him. I began using my experience at University and the cult-like conditions of Architecture school as my own Gulliverian narrative, using scale to bleed out these experiences. Gulliver represents the gullible child, stripped down of his assurance through the worlds he visits, this is represented in architecture school. The breaking down and rebuilding of the student, indoctrinated through crits, studio’s and lectures. The drawings reflect this playfulness, unpacking and critiquing my experience of architecture school.
What was your work process in terms of project development? how did you translate the everyday experience through drawings and so on?
I created a timeline of experience. As architects we usually measure everything in distance and not experience, I began to map out moments at university and studied them with forensic detail. The studio is a neutral space and not usually investigated as a site. When I interigated these moments, I began to draw them, using scale to depict my own psychoanalytical state.
What were the biggest challenges throughout?
To step myself out of the profession and look beyond the student, its hard when your within the bubble yourself. Understanding that competition and comparison prevails beyond architecture school, even in practice, tenders are won using the same systems.
What is your take on the potential of virtual reality as architectural tool?
Virtual reality allowed me to shape space in realtime using Unity (a game engine), I designed in the program which gave me an inherent perception of space, personally beyond sketching or modelling. I was able to form an impression of experience that the mind cannot refuse. I believe as a design tool, this bridges the gap between the imaginary and the real.
How and to what extent has this speculative project effect how you will operate as an architect?
By interegating myself it has allowed me to understand what kind of architect I want to be. I am heavily interested in methods of visual and experiential communication, I continue to push these boundaries in practice.
As an architect in the ‘realm of the real’ what are your biggest concerns/critiques on the profession?
Upto 29% of architecture students report issues of mental health through their course. This is because a students project is judged through speicifc criteria by a memeber of staff that possesses the power to pass or fail you. It is a personal and emotive experience that can make the student feel like its them that is the problem. Again, because our projects reflect who we are through our passions and interests. Which questions, should we be more creative in the crit, is pinning up work the best way to explain our projects? And for the tutors, is negative re-inforcement / finding problems with the work the best way to teach students?
Daniel currently works for Pod Architects where he is undertaking his Part 3.