We are fascinated by experimental processes of designing and making architecture, both as a form of practice and as an educational method. We place particular emphasis on developing appropriate and resonant media to help tease out ideas and embody them in proposals for built work. This year, we will continue to support the explicit development of your individual methods of practice as well as the means to simulate its architectural presence.

This year the work will be fuelled with the idea of the expedition . The expedition immediately implicates a consciousness of other places and other times. At the most practical level, architecture is directly implicated throughout multiple stages of an expedition: Firstly, in the preparation and support of expedition in advance, then during the expedition by providing infrastructure (such as the base camp) and finally by providing spaces of reflection following a voyage in the form of museums or archives. The idea of the expedition also implicates desires for the unknown in much more modest and subtle ways. For example; in the discoveries played out in the participants’ own cities in Surrealist and Situationist practices, for instance through the artefacts and cuisine on offer in museums and restaurants. You will be encouraged to speculate on and test ideas for ways in which the city and architecture can facilitate discovery, expedition and adventure, with intense depth and rigour. As such, your realm of expedition might simultaneously touch on uncharted physical territory in addition to enabling an exploration of the conceptual possibilities of a place; particularly in a place that may be outwardly familiar.

Preparing for an expedition is a paradoxical practice, for it requires speculative preparation for things and events of which we have no prior knowledge. This year, our early research work will engage directly with this process, in anticipation of the unknown: A combination of a desires that are parallel to those in creative practice, in which we set out to discover something specific, but we likely encounter other desires along the way which in turn override the founding desire. This is also observed in architectural practice where we typically design in response to particular needs and desires, but rarely celebrate and pursue those which result from less certain or predictable methods of feedback and observation.

During term 1, we will run a short introductory project to help you find your own territory to explore. Your research projects will involve the preparation of the methods and equipment to take on expeditions, to tickle out your individual realm of fascination during our unit trip (and other places besides). Your project must be portable and must fit within typical hand-luggage constraints. We will help you to improve your making skills if you have limited prior experience. There are no restrictions on what methods, materials and media you can use for this project. The process of inventing architectural projects will begin immediately and will run in parallel to the first term research work and preparation for the 4th year DR module.

Our field trip will take us to Switzerland and France at the very start of the 2nd term, with visits to a number of intensely personal buildings, worlds and inventions including Rudolf Steiner’s Goetheanum, Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel and Pavilion in Zurich, Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Idéal at Hauterives and the HR Giger museum as well as wonderful automata.

We hope that the places visited on our trip will provide encouragement that venturesome practices are possible whilst simultaneously providing a canvas for individual personal expedition. The content and site (or sites) for each architectural project will spawn from both your individual research and the trip. Your architecture and your research will both be developed through experimental and intellectually rigorous methodologies, with an underlying commitment to adventure and expedition.

Image 1: S.A. Andrée’s 1897 balloon mission to the North Pole – Credit: Tekniska Museet

Image 2: Rudolf Steiner’s Goetheanum – Credit: http://www.rudolfsteinerweb.com

Image 3: Ferdinand Cheval’s Palais Idéal – Credit: Yvonne Villaret