MArch PG24 – Cinematic Architectures
The Cinematic Architectures capsule presents work from postgraduate unit PG24 at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. The unit is coordinated by Penelope Haralambidou and Michael Tite, who have developed a highly innovative, research-based teaching methodology that employs digital film and immersive environments to re-think architecture through time.
Introducing duration and narrative creates a form of empathy with buildings and places, reveals their history and unlocks the emotive potential of design. Responding to real-world challenges through imaginative world-building, PG24 architectural films foreground the link between architecture, identity and politics.
Below is a curated display of seven projects/films, showcasing the wide range of themes explored in the unit.
Professor Penelope Haralambidou and Michael Tite, PG24 – The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Rugeley in Resilience
Johnn Cruwys, 2018
The project explores how contemporary ideas of work, craft and ritual can shape perceptions of value in the built environment. Taking the dual form of a town hall and festival hall, the buildings are built as part of an indefinitely prolonged festival of fulfilling work in the town of Rugeley, Staffordshire.
The film is an essay film following the effects of modern craft on Rugeley over several decades, exploring how it is manifested from when it is ‘discovered’ in 2017, to its blossoming and then to its re-seeding. Sitting among the ex-mining landscapes in the foggy, yet bucolic Trent-valley, the town seeks out an architecture of resistance and resilience.
How To Carve A Giant
Sonia Magdziarz, 2018
Winner of the 2018 RIBA Silver Medal
Sonia proposes an architecture capable of keeping safe contemporary forms of knowledge by taking a mantle of a folk story that carves its way through the urban fabric of Helsinki. Located in Pasila, the building is a repository storing knowledge in a vast inter-generational bid to prevent the loss of information.
Folklore, mythology and stone masonry techniques combine to form a building, carved over time into a granite outcrop. The mythical poem Kalevala becomes a framework for invention. The metaphors of the Giant, the Fox, the Blacksmith, and the Bear act as testing grounds for knowledge storing and carving technologies.
The project translates this epic folktale into a fabricated urban topography: from the mineral to the mythical and the mortal to the timeless.
Metabolist Regeneration of A Dementia Nation
Jerome Ng Xin Xao, 2019
Architecture has long been a prevalent means of embodying memory. Significant changes in the nation’s life, whether social or political, alter the collective minds of its citizens. This is especially so in Singapore. With an aging population and an ever-changing built environment, existing forms of remembrance of the past may be left with just photographs and videos.
Singapore’s Golden Mile Complex would be celebrated in many other countries as an important icon of 1970’s Metabolist urbanism, yet, in its home city, it faces imminent demolition. More than eighty similar sites have already been destroyed, as part of a progressive nation building programme. Jerome speculates on an alternative vision for this huge residential block, that not only saves the building, but allows it to absorb physical artefacts from Singapore’s threatened urban infrastructure. A prototype for an alternative pattern of future development, capable of allowing new and existing residents to forge new memories, whilst giving space for the past to breath. The animated film documents the lives of a series of Golden Mile residents, urging us all to resist the power structures that would see our urban memories so readily erased.
George Proud, 2020
‘The AR-k’ is a long-term oral history archive located on the Somerset Levels. Rooted in the rich mythological history and contemporary local culture of Somerset and Glastonbury, the project imagines an innovative hybrid between architecture and its extension through augmented reality.
Archaeologist, Dr Fouracres, is our guide in the far-future setting of 2442, and describes the gradual discovery of a mixed physical/digital ruin. The project considers the material and immaterial aspects of architectural heritage, playing with scale and deep time to depict a warning for the future.
Architecture here becomes a reliquary, hosting the lost sounds of the past through audio as well as visual augmentation-coded matter.
Paula Strunden, 2018
In response to London’s pressing housing crisis, this location-based VR experience proposes a shared, immersive and interactive version of a home, where space is born from the finely tuned sensorial interplay between the body and virtual/physical objects connected to the Internet of Things.
A chair invites us to stay with it for a moment; we crawl through a demanding fireplace; and our hands are washed in a bowl of digital liquid. The highly speculative model of domesticity explores the architectural implication of co-inhabiting a minimal physical infrastructure within infinite highly bespoke virtual worlds.
Drawing on radical art practice, interiors in historical painting and contemporary product design, Micro-Utopia is the dream of a house that is nothing, but the parameters of our perception and the objects we interact with on a daily basis.
Stefania Tsigkouni, 2018
This Athens-based architectural fable investigates the emerging dynamics of the city, focussing on the numerous interweaving lives of a community within the working-class neighbourhood of Metaxourgeio. The magical-realist project plays with cycles of time as a way of drawing out relationships between humans and the natural world within the city.
Magical elements are used throughout the story as a tool to nurture the themes of displacement, labour, craftsmanship and to explore production and mobility within the social ecology. Reality acts as a trickster and, consequently, causality as an illusion. As the characters grow and interrelate, so do the spaces around them. The building becomes a character in itself, engrained with the city’s mythology, and its ongoing repeated history.
Guilt Free Homes
James White, 2020
This immersive film explores the increasingly pervasive and intrusive role that mega-cap US technology companies are taking in the domestic realm and speculates on the future commodifying effects these will have on urban environments and interior space. Located in Somers Town the project aims to create an environment of user-satisfaction capable of relieving us of ecological ‘guilt’ whilst addressing existing pressures associated with the home environment, such as over-consumption, climate change and housekeeping.
The work is grounded in a series of observations about society’s evolving relationship with consumption and technology and ‘feels for the beating pulse’ of what defines living in the 2020s. The film is an Orwellian ‘cat and mouse detective thriller’, immersing the viewer in a disorientating and menacing 360° narrative set within an imagined future timeline of the proposed building.