Designing for students (6 Dec 2011)

Uploaded by UCLLHL on 08.12.2011

>> We're on a very tight timeframe today,
so I'll not mess about and get straight into it.
This is a photograph taken in our garden 3 years ago almost
when my son had an [inaudible] now 21-year-old
who had his 18th birthday party.
As you can see, he's sitting in the garden.
And I think virtually, in fact everybody
in that photograph is now a university student.
Some of them even in this Augustine institution,
and they're all sitting, most of the time,
in very boring rectilinear concrete boxes.
This is the point of the slide.
That there they were enjoying themselves
and then a few months later stuck
into these awful boxes that--
that call themselves university buildings.
And when we were pitching for a competition for a building
in Vienna for the law school of the economics university,
I sort of at a [inaudible] moment did this cartoon,
and it was added into the pitch.
We won the competition, so it couldn't have put them off.
And what I was trying to say in the cartoon is
that from my experience-- my long experience of the Viennese,
they're rather jolly people.
And they get up to all sorts of naughty things.
And why can't that happen in the university, too?
And 2 places with which I'm very, very familiar.
One in the top part of the photograph is the garden
in the middle of Paris, in the 14th District, Montparnasse
of the [inaudible], and the bottom is another favorite
architecture school of mine which is the SCI-Arc
in Los Angeles, which is in a long ha--
almost half mile long concrete building.
But almost on a Friday evening, even in this marvelous school
of architecture, people want to break out, and they want
to break out into something that's looser.
And in Paris, in fact, they have this marvelous piece
of French real estate called [inaudible] Garden,
which they've had since the mid-19th century,
and they break out all the time.
Needless to say, the Americans work harder than the French.
A long time ago, I was a professor in,
of all places Frankfurt in the Art Academy.
And after a few years, somebody kindly said,
"You're an architect and we need a cafe.
Well, could you-- could you do one?"
And we found a courtyard which existed between two pieces
of building, and all we did was to stick the cafe as a very,
very simple steel building,
steel and glass insertion into the courtyard.
We used a bit of the basement as a kitchen and the servery
and nothing special about the furniture.
We just enclosed the courtyard.
But we did a jolly because in the summer, it opens up.
It gets very hot in that particular location in Frankfurt
in the summer, so we said, right,
the room can breathe, end of conversation.
This is a piece of the prospectors
from the rival school down the road,
the Architectural Association from which some
of us sitting here were graduates.
There's been a lot of cross fertilization
between up the road in [inaudible] and down the road.
And this is an attempt in their catalog to give a vision
of all the things that go on in architectural schools.
In summary, it's indicating this most--
most discussion happened around a machine somewhat like this.
And there are other things that are very necessary
to the conduct of a University or an architectural school.
But my central theme is that it doesn't have to be boring.
Taken from the rival catalog that one [inaudible]
across the road implying that you can do--
you can have interesting relationships
and do jolly things if you're an architecture student.
Thank you [inaudible].
And that even in [inaudible] first year, some extra--
already only a matter of months into the game,
people stopped producing extraordinary, wonderful,
inventive, charming, strange things.
But the rooms in which they do it are awful, are dire.
I think that [inaudible] house is probably the--
one of the 3 worst architecture school buildings in the world.
And I have visited probably 250 architecture schools
in my long career.
But some amazing work comes out of it.
Almost you could be perverse and say it's so bad that--
that you'd have to do something good to ignore it.
But that's a rather false premise.
We were lucky enough, as I said, to win that competition
for the law school in Vienna.
And I'm glad to say that the building is now coming
out of the ground very fast.
I've missed a trip this morning
and not brought a progress photograph.
But part of the building is already two floors
out of the ground and the whole of it is
about 1 floor out of the ground.
And it's very easy to find
because it's near the famous wheel in Vienna
that has appeared in many films.
And it's alongside the hunting grounds of the old--
of the old [inaudible] monarchs.
Our building is actually two buildings.
The right-hand part is the administration building
and the left-hand part is the law school
and two don't actually touch but they--
they kind of lock around the space.
That was the-- that was the brief.
And we do a long wiggly building.
We do a long building that wiggles around
and when you enter the building,
you'll enter via two smiling cheeks.
One of which is the cafe and one
of which is-- is the common room.
And then you move up into the building,
and in this drawing we're suggesting
that we don't want the building
to stay all kind of squeaky clean.
We wanted to get overgrown with vegetation.
Because behind it are the--
are the woods of the [inaudible] Gardens.
This is a working drawing plan just to give you some feel
of the-- the complexity of the whole building.
The colored bit is actually the garden, which works its way
over the library, the law library.
And the smaller building is the administration building.
And if you-- if you-- some of your--
how many of you are actually architecture students here?
Tough on those who are not, I'm afraid.
I shall then switch
into assuming you know how to read plans mode.
How many of you have not anything
to do with architecture?
Oh well, this is a-- I'll be-- I'll try and explain.
This is-- this is a plan, and if you look at it, [laughter] some
of the lines are straight and some of the lines are wobbly,
and the wobbly ones enclose pieces of inters--
what we pompously call interstitial space
which is a place that [inaudible] basically hang out.
And usefully there are also some tunnels that run under out there
and they can also hang
out without even coming inside the building.
This is a view from the--
the gardens and you can see that there are lots of--
of [inaudible] crustaceans where we carve
out the basic form of the building.
And bottom drawing or photo drawing is really a sort
of symbolic one that says there are 3 layers of filtration.
It's the filter of the trees, it's the filter of the blades
of the sun breakers, and then there is the filter
of the building itself.
This is a diagram of the roof of the library, where you can see,
you can sort of crawl up it via a series of--
of boardwalks and some pieces of plantation.
We weren't allowed to do as much plantation
as we would have wished on there.
And inside the library there are little--
little rooms within the room.
We like the library to be a place not only where people sit
at computers or read law terms,
but also a place where you gather.
It's the largest room in the building, and we want it
to be a place where people do gather.
And then if they want to be very noisy or have a, you know,
a bit of an improvised seminar, then they go into one
of these little cubicles, these little colored curved cubicles,
which are deliberately jollies [phonetic].
We like the idea of jollies within the Johnny [phonetic].
And then you can see, perhaps we're being a bit coy here
where we're indicating the position
of the bookshelves that's sort of slightly translucent.
Of course it's going to be much denser looking in this drawing.
But there are always roots out, there are always views out.
There are views on to the garden above,
to the gardens at the side.
The thing is-- is very much a three-dimensional space.
And here's a rather jolly plan of it,
with the blue central turquoise color thing is a bridge
that runs across the double height space of the library.
Pieces of purple and green are the bits
of the garden before you go over the top part.
And then the pink things are these little--
little discussion rooms, which occur on two floors.
And the building is colored.
Now I think many artists are scared of doing color.
But we're not scared of doing color and the idea here was
to run the colors from sort of earth color up to bright shiny
in the sky color, and then to run the linoleum that is
in corridors in reverse order, say you have the dark color
at the top where the building is light and the light color
at the bottom of the building is dark.
>> And in the middle, we have the middle.
Building is covered in a series of sun breaker screens
which also not only deal with-- with that issue but also deal
with the softening of-- of the stripes.
We have the colored stripes living beneath the--
the sort of more jagged filtration of the blades.
And at the moment, it doesn't look like that at all,
it does looks like a lot of concrete.
So of course I'd be knocking concrete.
I don't object to concrete,
I object to it being used in a boring way.
Moving on to architecture schools, well just a moment,
I think that one of the things that one has to sort
of prognosticate in the process of design is
to what extent the law students like architecture students.
To what extent do they wish to be charmed and amused,
to what extent are some parts
of their studies boring, others intriguing.
I-- my own very scant experience of lawyers is
that they're very interesting and chatty people.
And again, they would enjoy to have spaces.
They will enjoy to have spaces 'cause they're not just
designated for parts of the curriculum.
Now we see across the road the-- the part that's enjoying itself
in the grounds of the dome, which happens every year.
And again, it's not exactly quite the same as my photograph
of the garden with the 18 year olds, but there are overturns
that suggests that people are just waiting to break out.
Of course, there are many rituals
that I haven't realized ever get to be
as many architecture students as here 'cause I'd assume
that it would be a minority,
so I'm telling you what you already know,
which is the process involves the display and discussion
of your work, and that the theatre
of the display is very important.
And that of course it can lead to insulation,
some of which don't have certainly are not [inaudible],
and some of which involve-- sorry it's upside down.
The blue one I realized.
But it involves things that are not necessarily tangible,
not necessarily solid, not necessarily fixed
that that the best architecture schools have a kind of looking
across many, many different territories.
This is stolen from the Architecture Association
Handbook, which suggests it's an important part
of the operation is the restaurant.
Unfortunately, both in Wade's House and in the building
that we're doing in Australia, nobody seem to have a dis--
be able to persuade anybody to run a restaurant
from within the building.
I think this is a great chain.
Just to remind that the architecture today is
extremely-- can be extremely eclectic, extremely inventive,
extremely multicultural and God knows where it might go,
so that the building has to be, in a sense, resilient.
Even so, the majority of activities are like this.
People sitting, looking at the relatively limited territory,
one of them looking over the shoulder of the other.
But maybe he likes the lady rather
than what's on her screen.
And so here we are, and of all places Australia that the--
again, this was a competition that we won.
If it's for [inaudible] this happened to be in Australia,
giving the-- a very posh lecture,
and there was a party afterwards of which some people said,
we are about to hold a competition
for an architecture school.
And I honed my way into their competition
by emailing everybody and saying,
we've got to get the stuff over by Thursday.
We had to have our credentials in 4 days later.
Which we did, and we competed and we won.
And the building is also on site.
We have two buildings on site.
This one is they're just starting to pour the slab,
and it's going very fast.
It is very much an internalized building
because it's a hot place, relatively.
This is a fairly typical picture of-- of part of Bond University.
It's a 30-year-old university.
Very small, started by a man called Alan Bond
who then went to jail.
And the university nearly folded as a result of that.
It was actually, as I've only discovered
in the last few weeks, it was some sort of deal
with the Japanese developer.
You have to understand that the town that sits
in is called Gold Coast, it's a half a million person city
which has a lot of lagoons rather like in Florida.
And it was a real estate pitch that the Japanese developers
of one of these large lagoons wanted to up--
up the market for this lagoon, make it special.
And they somehow did a deal with Mr. Bond,
and the university was placed to be this kind of jewel
that would up, would elevate the value of the land around.
And in fact the lakes
that surround it are called Varsity Lakes,
and there are all sorts of things like Varsity Avenue.
So they're making a big pitch
of it being the university, the varsity.
It has actually worked.
And now after its early tremors with Mr. Bond going to jail,
it's actually succeeding and its law school, and I think one
of the other departments are the highest rated
of their kind in Australia.
So it's actually not a bad [inaudible].
It's a small university with very small classes.
Private-- so this is its pitch, that you can--
you can be very intensively taught there.
And it's sort of very Australian.
You know it's bright-- bright sun, lots of bushes, trees,
lots of Toyotas and more [inaudible] to say.
And in the competition we have to also make a suggestion
of what we would do with the whole campus.
And then we come into our building, which is a series of--
of folded roofs that base themselves on something
that we call the scoop.
It's really rather like if you take one of those spoons
into an ice cream tub, you scoop, it's the scoop action.
And in a sense, the scoop for this building is the equivalent
of our sort of odd interstitial spaces in the law school.
Again, the theme is where can you make an in--
an education institution have character?
I suggest that the space that we were waiting
in outside this hall is not a pleasant space.
It's not a place where you wish to do anything except get
into the room, and then when you leave to get the hell
out into the streets as fast as possible.
And that, I think, is a tragedy of the thinking
of many university buildings, which is just think of the--
of the set piece extrapolated from curricular activities
or getting the hell out.
And if you think of UCL's canteens, you know,
with their unbelievably low ceilings and dreary,
thoughtless, unimaginative, tasteless d├ęcor,
one can do better than that almost
with your hand tied behind your back.
Nonetheless, there had to be sort
of fundamental principles of-- of the architecture itself.
Here we have basic little notions of the scoops,
which dictate the building, and then the question
of wrapping the scoops.
This is the latest stage of the plan.
This is lit-- literally whipped
around the [inaudible] nose this morning,
and you can see some sort of red markings.
The red markings are things
which is still under minor revision.
But this is the building.
You will notice, for those of you with very sharp eyes,
will notice that it's got 1 scoop less
than it had in the competition.
We had to do what in architects world is now called value
engineering, which is called cutting the cost.
And we had to lose the workshops from the basement,
which were based upon the Bartlett's ideas
that the [inaudible] at the Bartlett does work,
everyone is that the idea of the open space and you look
down into people working, which tells the world
that you're doing something [inaudible].
And then, you know, that the deeds into the building.
We borrowed that, made a more elegant version of it,
but that's got removed from the budget and has been replicated
in a sort of tin heart around the edge of the side.
It was [inaudible] losing the project, so we did that.
Otherwise, the building is substantially the same.
The entrance-- if the entrance
of the [inaudible] building was a series of sort
of smiling cheeks, the entrance here is a nose.
And I find that I like doing nose
and cheek objects or something.
Psychoanalysis will deal with that [inaudible].
>> And you can see running left to right down the center
of the building is a kind of street
around which these scoops lie.
And this is just--
I met somebody [inaudible] related to that.
The cross sections show
that it's actually a very simple building with the--
the roofs tilted and pulling breeze in.
There's a lot of attention has to be paid in--
in Southern Queensland to the business of building heating up.
There we have the building from the entrance
and with the studios on the left and the scoops hidden
as they support the roof.
This is the north facade which has--
don't forget the sun comes from the north in Australia
and therefore it has to deal with a lot of sun shading
and we rather enjoyed ourselves with the--
the random sun shading around the--
the various smaller rooms which tend to be on the north side.
This is a romantic evening view of the studios as it might be
in Bond and you do get even it's like that sometimes.
And this is a-- a breakdown of the building as a whole.
You can see that the-- the-- the scoops actually replicate
out into the form of the outer skin of the building.
There's a space at your street that runs down.
A lot of time is spent tweaking the thing
so that the sun can be manipulated,
so that the sun doesn't actually or hardly
at all occupies the interior of the space
because it's extremely strong in--
in the Australian winter and-- and could do a lot of damage.
So, a lot of the building is tweaking.
This is a view looking down the street, one of the scoops
on the left with a stair curling its way around it.
On the right of the smaller rooms mostly used
by people sitting at computers or-- or researching.
And then, we have a series of bridges that cross that.
In the course of doing the-- the competition,
I was urged by my colleagues to do more cartoons this time
and I did 2 or 3 and then they said, "Do some more."
And I did 3 or 4 more.
And they said, "Do some more."
In the end I did 26 of these bloody cartoons and-- and--
and put the project at risk.
But the Australians are cheerful people and--
and they seemed to enjoy the cartoons
and this is really the core of this lunchtime's thing
which is that-- that there is a link between ones many 45
or so years of experience in architecture schools,
the anecdotes inform the building.
You can design the building to sort
of basic principles organization.
But then the anecdotes take over.
I'm fascinated by the pretension that sometimes it tends
to crease and-- and here the-- the guy making the point is--
is possibly some slightly, it's not in those young tutor who--
who says, "I question your terms of reference, [inaudible]."
And there is [inaudible] being questioned.
Well, there are other-- other things which is of course
that the-- that the good architecture schools should be
very open to particular kinds of public,
visitors from other schools, visiting faculty,
people who are-- who are-- and--
and then the organization unites us so that the people
in the top [inaudible] are slightly apart though they're
watching as spectators.
That they shouldn't necessarily have to get involved sometimes
in places where you feel if you just put your head in the room,
everybody will expect you to sort of do something.
It's nice to be able to sort of sniff, to--
to peek and that also school of architecture may--
may be a place where things are going on.
Here is the street again and you can see that it's-- it's the--
the scoops are-- each scoop is different and that was something
that we've had to fight for because of course the--
the contractors and the rationalizers want us
to make all the scoops the same and it's cheaper.
I said, "No!
The whole point of the scoops is that each one is different."
That you-- I-- you know if you want
to have this little [inaudible] you go in that scoop.
If you wanna have a sort
of unofficial seminar, you go in that scoop.
If you just wanna hang out, you go in that scoop.
And you know, if all is in that scoop,
you're not gonna go anywhere near it.
You need a different sort of scoop.
So, I just-- each of the scoops has its own size,
shape and character, important
that the building is used all night,
important that it encourages that this sad character believes
that he works late into the night he might pull--
pull a chick.
Looking at him, it's fairly unlikely 'cause-- and--
and this is some of the working for us
who actually with his girlfriend.
This is a real person who we know enjoying-- enjoying the--
the space of the building.
And of course as I-- point I made earlier which is that a lot
of the-- the real activity happens
around an extremely small space.
That that in the-- in the days
when I was an architecture student, for a long period
when I was teaching, somebody was doing something
and you saw it there.
You did not design [inaudible].
Rather like we do in the art--
well, like I'm allowed to do in a studio.
Oh, you don't necessarily have to say anything,
which is harder with the computer.
We get quite offensive if-- if you [inaudible].
This is-- this is actually a-- almost a tracing of an event
about a year ago over-- across the street when [inaudible] was
at the Bartlett doing a painting and art imitating life
or life imitating art.
This is another possible sort of use of the place
and we have a little gaggle of people though chosen
by the person doing the random, I think the same guy
as did the one with the girl.
They're not actually in the scoop.
They're kind of hanging around.
I think you should be able to hang around the architectures.
Alright, the other thing is of course the-- the event.
This is purporting to be [inaudible] if you like,
call for the purposes with the queen
of [inaudible] entering Bond University and--
and the faculty lined up outside and said, "Oh,
let's shake her hand, you know, let's shake her hand."
She spoke to me which is all part of the rich [inaudible].
And then, you know, the-- the grand lecture.
The-- this is interesting taken again
from the Architect Association syllabus
which is the significance
of having the extremely famous person who's profile is almost
known to every architect.
But I will tell you who it is.
Rem Koolhaas, his shadow is enough and they will--
and you know from-- from such things the [inaudible] Mr.
Koolhaas gives a lecture but they or anywhere else.
Not only that people will be fighting to get in the room
but they'll even be fighting to get to the screen
that shows merely the disembodied shadow of--
of the person that this business of the [inaudible]--
a fame and the-- and the touching the hemlock [phonetic]
of the fame-- of the famous person.
It's very interesting that-- that still, you who bothered
to come and see me and some of you kindly wished
to be photographed with me, that's very nice.
But you also watch-- presumed to see if I picked my nose
or if I arrive here with a large dog or--
or a strange lady or whatever it might be or-- or, you know.
I think I-- and what fascinates me is the [inaudible]
of those situations and this was a bit of flattery at the Bond.
I was suggesting that even people
from Princeton might be passing
through with the health seminar there.
A certain degree of inherited cyn-- cynicism, 40--
you have to bury my 45 years of cynicism going into the--
the vignettes around this building, particularly this one
which is the-- it's very important to be able
to state both on the part of the faculty and-- and the student.
I remember both the AA when I taught for a very long time
and in Frankfurt and then the Bartlett,
the 3 places and most associated.
The important thing is as soon you got the job is know how you
could escape, if you saw some
of the extremely boring heading your way.
How the [inaudible] did you get out?
[Laughter] But of course it's a two-way process.
Here is Jules [phonetic] who is obviously a student not--
not frequently seen on the premises almost
about to make his escape and another member
of the faculty saying, "I don't any-- anything to do with this,"
also making his own escape.
Boring-- boring intellectuals that you get
in architecture schools are personified by the guy
by the bed on the left and-- and rather sad--
sad older students who's probably mortgaged his house
in order to come back to school.
[Inaudible] "What the hell is this guy on about?"
The other thing then, the bottom right-hand corners is the notion
that however much we love the architecture of our building
that we wouldn't mind if it was painted on the face
and all sorts of nasty things happened to it,
as long as they're creative and that's the theme of that.
This is another little piece of cynicism.
It's very important to have somewhere which is inside
and outside the building.
We have a kind of day that wraps itself
around the building where you have this.
>> We're suggesting slightly more casual situations including
extremely boring student coming with something that he's found
that are [inaudible] is interesting.
The two young faculty don't find it particularly interesting.
But the trick as a good teacher is to give the impression
that you find it interesting.
[Laughter] Because the world interesting is the most useful
word in the English interpretation of teaching.
I have non-English architect wife who said
when she was a student today she couldn't ever get the idea
that something being interesting.
She said, why didn't you tell us it was good or it was bad?
And I said that is the point.
If it is interesting there is room for maneuver.
[Laughter] As soon as it's good or bad,
you're gonna cut your options.
We are developing, we are--
we found somewhere actually at Shenzhen [phonetic],
we're just talking about Shenzhen this morning.
Somewhere in Shenzhen that will manufacture the furniture,
the desks for this building and we're exper--
well, we're pretty much finished experimenting.
This is, this a series of desk types we have evolved.
You can see their similarity
to the crab tables that's called all to the table that my wife
and I found in an exhibition in town.
These tables with particular characteristics of relaxed edges
and holes and-- but at the same time,
one has to have a very determined system of lockers.
We're trying to organize that one.
And this is a phrase that one has, has heard many times
across in the Bartlett at its most creative moments
which was something seemed the good idea at the time
and then you get these guys wondering what the hell they're
going to do with this 'cause it sort
of flaps around in the breeze.
And the idea about building pit was that that would be a place
for it that sort of stuff could happen.
A lot of the work then we're involved in now has been--
and this has-- this appeared just finished.
We've just managed to convince everybody
that we can do a variety of the scoops about rationalize.
A lot of the time we spent not coming up with the idea.
In fact we designed the building in about 3 weeks flat.
We fundamentally did the key revisions
in about another 4 weeks flat.
The rest of the time has been tweaking, tweaking, tweaking,
tweaking making it possible for the money.
We're trying to persuade a bit more money to come
out of a nonexistent part, a bit of one, a bit of the other.
But basically a lot of this kind of activity is involved
where there is then the rationalization of something
which was in the sense the poetic idea.
[Inaudible] say that.
A poetic idea which has to then be turned into an economic
and rational procedure which is why I think it links
to the picture at the tables which is actually--
which are easier just to say in the scoops.
But the scoops are critical.
We're also having a final sort of straw
on the question of the nodes.
The nodes is also slightly expensive elements
that are important to the physiognomy
of the building rather like it Conan and I had
when we had the needle sticking out, out of the top of grass.
The nodes is small but of equal importance
to the statement of the building.
And this is just finally how we operate
as you can see some what chaotically sometimes.
And one of the ladies says to him, extremely worried
but she's Romanian and Romanians do find themselves quite right
some time.
And this is a more typical situation.
You can see couple of Swedish guys also looking slightly
worried, not quite as worried as the Romanian
because Swedes never get quite that worried.
And there is a model of--
we're constantly making revision models particularly at the--
of the folded parts of the building.
And you can see the general air of color and chaos as we work.
And finally, a couple of things--
there's nothing to do with educational buildings just
to show you what we do when we're not doing that.
See if it will-- I think it's very-- you know, we did at--
we did a competition unsuccessfully
for a building involved in that tsunami and this is a rendition
that shows the building under the pressure
of the tsunami itself.
And we recently did also have
to say we didn't quite get to build it.
We got near but not near enough but open competition for a tower
in Taichung and this is a rendition actually done
by adjacent [inaudible] Studio
with whom we worked on the project.
This is the nighttime.
It's actually a still from a film.
I just thought that it would reasonable to say
that we're not just doing those two buildings,
I mean that we've been obviously doing other things.
At the moment what we're working
on as well is some little internal sort
of competition I've set amongst the younger people in the studio
because we want to do some housing investigation
and we haven't done any since the [inaudible] CRAB.
We had we-- we had an early building that's now finished
in Madrid of housing.
But we haven't done a lot of housing,
so sometimes one simply thinks what are we not doing
that hasn't cropped up in any competition
that we've been successful and, you know, unsuccessful
and what else should we be doing?
So it's a-- in a sense one brings something
of the psychology of the school and the studio
and you probably notice that there are quite a lot
of young people in the room.
In fact they're mostly young, who are some of them interns,
some of them recent graduates predominantly from the Bartlett
and there it has to be sent but also from Taiwan and Sweden
and Paris and a few other places.
And it's important for them I think to even
if they're [inaudible] with us for a relatively short time
to actually leave their mark.
But I suppose it's an odd one
because Gavin who's the R. Gavin Robotham is the R of CRAB.
He also spend I think about 10 years teaching with [inaudible]
and we still have that sort of instinct as teachers
but it's not everything is done purely to deal with the--
done your engineering or the refinement
of the concrete although that's obviously key.
And I run to 3 minutes from my end.
Don't waste time for questions or time to tell you how
to reach the exit or now you can turn your phones on.
Anyway, that's it.
[ Applause ]