Materialising Interactions

Representation – materialising conversations and actions through memories.
These drawings are codes themselves. Despite their pictorial qualities, they require a skill to read the plans, sections and model together, that is required to put together a vision of the programme of space. This representational division is one of those mystifying professional tools architects have to communicate ideas to clients, that can at best only communicate a representation of an anticipated reality in the space. This is true of these drawings that are based upon a section and schematic plan that was drawn last October, for a school that doesn’t exist yet. Our fortunate position, being in contact with the school and architects but operating in parallel to the on-going, real project, allowed an analysis and critique to take place of the methods and concepts developed to design the school. This merited some strong criticism of a ‘commercialised’ approach to designing and the problems of the Curriculum of Excellence, that both condition the behaviour of the inhabitants. This is partially due to the complex jurisdiction and regulation that surrounds school design produces a flawed paradigm.

Architectural process through lead-user collaboration

By adopting an approach that puts the lead user at the heart of the creation of space, and integrating methods of representation, the QR codes, that present another dimension to the drawing about personal narrative and inhabitation of space, an alternative to the restrictive pedagogical methods and complex design requirements that inform design begin to emerge.

The process leads to a richer environment, one that actively confronts the commercial concept of the school, replacing it with the domesticated, self sufficient space that is derived from communal production, collaboration and collective consumption and socialising, positioned right at the ‘heart’ of the school.

Representing people through memories:

There are no actual images of people in the sections, architectural drawings and visulisations often contain outlines or silhouettes, or idealised fictional images of people (usually the slightly blurred or, on occasion, the first Google search ‘man’. The tags look a little formal and perhaps cold in their black and white image, but what they link to could is more than a pretend reality, but a memory, a real image or story made by the occupier of the space at that time and place. This, in my opinion, gives a much richer understanding of the occupation of space than any representation of a person, made with the prescribed, stylised or errant premonitions of an architect.

New drawings and models, linking conversations photographs and events as a process of recording memory. The tagging of drawings transmits the evolutionary and flexibility of the space into the drawing as a communication and analytical device. The model, connected to the drawings, has been designed to come apart and adjust, aiding new design arrangements should the storage and cooking unit locations continue to evolve over time through recording and recalling the use of the space.

Working in a practical and collaborative manner – using the real world as a testing ground for fieldwork to test different methodologies. At the end of the day, however, the project of Portobello School has gone to tender, and will be constructed. It will be constructed to JM Architect’s designs and I’m sure it will be better and worse in different areas than the existing school.

The proposal aims to demonstrate that a small adaptation in policy now, might, in a similar method to this project, begin to inform and evolve a new method of doing something. By subtlety disrupting the paradigm in a small way could lead to a completely different method of generating and inhabiting space. The risk is justified gradually over time to amount to an unfettered leap forwards. A new home economics department that is full of the complex intricacies of socio-material and experiential interaction.

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