This year the Design Is Research Studio will continue its focus on the development of architectural languages – material, cultural and spatial – that reflect and express diverse and plural contexts. Projects will start with the act of design, developing ideas not as abstract thoughts or a-priori principles, but as things that occur within the objects that we draw and make. The studio proceeds from the principle that architecture is not a form of commentary on other issues but the object of our study and the method through which we think.
We will proceed from formal experimentation toward firm proposals. We are particularly interested in hybrids and collage, impure architectural objects, buildings that combine materials, spaces and forms, often from different periods and contradictory sources. The evolution of rich, diverse and inventive prototypes will travel from form to programme to site and back again.
The brief for this year will focus on the question of rural housing. The housing shortage in the south east has resulted in a number of central government initiatives aimed at increasing the construction of new homes. Opposition to new development is particularly strong in rural areas where shortages of affordable housing are often acute. The recent government White Paper Planning for the Future, aims to deregulate Planning with the intention of making more sites available for development. This White Paper has been influenced by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, an advisory board that aims to overcome NIMBY objection to new housing through the encouragement of supposedly popular and traditional forms of design.
The studio will engage with this political, cultural and physical context, aiming to develop answers to the question of how and where to build new houses in rural areas. The vehicle for this work will be new housing at the scale of the infill development or the village extension. Such proposals will fundamentally address the questions around new housing: Who is it for? How do we design it to address concerns and questions around meaningful architectural form? Where should it go and what kinds of places does it result in? Can it be beautiful as well as sustainable and how and who gets to categorise beauty?