This year Studio 3 continued to look at amplified environmental conditions as a means to better understand our sensory experience of architecture. We live in an 'ocularcentric' society which privileges sight over other senses and the studio questioned how this both supports and limits the architectural environments we create. To this end we explored two connected projects that asked students to consider the primacy of natural lighting in our experience of architecture and how we can support other senses if sight deteriorates.
The projects were deliberately chosen to be ones of contrast, even extremes in lighting that engage with episodic movement, temporal change and pronounced environmental variation.
Part 1. The first project was a small, mobile "Vision Van" that was designed to bring a controlled environment for eye testing and ophthalmic health to all parts of the country. With an aging population and pressures on health care we asked how the mobile structure can engage with the communities it visits as well as getting into the 'nittygritty' of how light levels can be controlled.
Part 2. The second project asked students to redevelop a central London site to bring a new Institute for Opthalmology to Bloomsbury. The Royal National Institute of Blind People and UCL were the clients, with their long history of charitable, social care and scientific research for those suffering from sight loss in London. Students were asked to consider how a building for partially sighted users can function in a dense city and how to develop an approach to handling radically different environmental experiences on a dense and constrained site.
Throughout the year the studio was concerned with design through making, with students encouraged to think critically about the spatial and environmental conditions between architecture that is: light and dark; heavy and lightweight; reactive and stable; warm and cold; expansive and enclosed; linear and vertical. We considered architecture to be the accumulation, repetition and diversification of material actions, which focus on construction (as opposed to massing, or diagramming) to develop architectural proposals.
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