The Autumn Year 1 Design Module, Support Structures introduced students to processes of appraisal and proposition, and the opportunities and responsibilities of the architect as an agent of change. It is based on the premise that architectural design is driven by an utopian impulse, a conscious striving to change the world for the better made manifest in the architectural project.

Rather than setting out to solve a problem, the students identified specific moments within the town which they thought should be cherished and developed site specific interventions which supported those aspects of place, creating a new way for it to be perceived or an opportunity for it to be appreciated.

The interventions were conceptualised, discussed, made and re-made, in a small team. The result was scaled up to full size and deployed, photographed and filmed in the town.  Subsequently students measured the part of town that they situated their device and created a drawing that combined every aspect of the project including the conceptual, locational, propositional and experiential performance.

As a public work installed on site the project also required students to engage with the multiple publics of Reading to consider architectural works as something constructed with, for, and in relation to others.

Module Convenor: Amy Butt

Design Studio Team: Penelope Plaza, Darren Bray, Amy Butt, Zoe Berman, Graham Thompson, Juan Leiva, Vsevolod Kondratiev-Popov

Visitors: Thomas Aquilina and Ceri Williams

The Spring and Summer project explores through architecture the interdependence between humans, non-humans and the natural cycles of water. 

Water is the origin of all life on earth, our human cells are vessels that connect our bodies to the bodies of all living creatures on this planet to rivers, oceans, glaciers, clouds, fog, and RAIN… In our daily existence we tend to disregard rainwater, it pours down from the sky and drains away, always hidden in pipes or deflected from our bodies by waterproof coats or umbrellas. As we grow into adults, child-like joyful play in rain puddles is frowned upon whilst our infrastructures collapse under heavy downpours that produce preventable floods. 

We travelled together virtually to Luchtbal, North of Antwerp, as the ideal location to create a place for renewing our reverence and fascination for rainwater. We approached the site as a vessel for harvesting and choreographing rainwater, intimately woven into a caretaker’s craft, with the purpose of effecting a positive change on the surrounding community. These interdependencies informed the exploration of the relations with the immediate urban landscape, the collective meanings and environmental impact attached to crafts, the complexity and lived experience of spatial design, and the conscious use of materials of the building. 

Module Convenor: Penélope Plaza

Design Studio Team: Amy Butt, Darren Bray, Juan Leiva, Vsevolod Kondratiev-Popov, Penélope Plaza, Graham Thompson 

Internal Guests: Lorraine Farrelly, Stephen Gage, John Harding, Sabrina Morreale, Carolina Vasilikou, Sayan Skandarajah. 

External Guests: Thomas Aquilina (Adjaye Associates, UK), Adriana Keramida (Ball State University, US), Ruth Lang (Central Saint Martins, UK), Enrique Larrañaga (Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela), Nathan Ozga (Kohn Pedersen Fox, US).