This year the Near Futurists’ Alliance has seen a really wide range of creative, thought provoking and intelligent responses to our studio brief looking at future monuments and innovative building typologies. Located in the vicinity of Queens Park in Brighton, these projects are brought together under the banner of Making [future] History: experimental predictions for the future, asking questions of, and disrupting, the traditional systems of history, heritage, conservation and preservation.
Run by Gem Barton and set-designer Amelia Jane Hankin our project briefs place an importance on active social, environmental and political issues encouraging students to approach these topics focussing on people and inhabitation of space, experimental and innovative thinking.
We explore cinematic storytelling and ficto-critical approaches to imagined environments absorbing the extremes of fact-as-truth and untested-fiction as fuel for fantastic yet grounded speculative content. As such NFA is an example of ‘research through design fiction’.
NFA is about acting in the midst of uncertainty – about the consideration and design of tomorrow – about developing the life skills to imagine alternatives, to plan for eventualities, and therefore be a better more informed designer, for human-centred spaces and experiences. This year alone NFA students have developed research projects addressing subjects such as the de-criminalisation of cottaging, the insufficiencies in the UK sex-education curriculum, the gender data bias, and designed new facilities such a virtual graveyards, sleep experiences determined by the food that you eat, and shrines to celebrate non-normative relationship unions.
The images below are some examples of work from NFA members throughout the years showcasing the techniques we use to develop ideas and produce work.
Starting with a donor image/artefact students will explore and experiment with the notion of ‘hacking’ or working with an existing condition in both sympathetic and inventive ways – a metaphor for adaptive re-use of a ‘donor’ building.
The creative testing and use of systems and materials is embedded into the methodology of the studio, encouraging inventive applications of traditional materials (such as thatch died with locally sourced blueberries). Strong composition and combinations of materials, texture and colour is inherent in the work that NFA members produce.
Students consider the presentation of their work as a key part of the design process, and are encouraged to apply design thinking principles to the communication of their work with regards to the what we consider a typical portfolio. Project communication is unique to the individual and ranges from large format collages, film and animation, 1:1 installation and the publication of novellas.
Students are supported to deploy creative and bespoke methods for communicating their idea. Above you see the façade of a 1:20 scale abandoned hotel building where “in a post-Brexit 2025, debtors must repay their debts by completing medical trials at their nearest rehabilitation centre, but will they get out alive?”. Alongside is the storyboard and video clip created to produce a short film representing the dream sequence of one of the patients/debtors.
Below you see graphic novel aesthetics used to explore and convey spatial and sequential programming principles.
Students use storytelling as well as making and drawing to explore concept, technology, history, space and time. “This project tells the story of Sir David Lionel Salomons, a man who influenced late Victorian politics and engineering – using true facts and events to re-imagine a small society that has grown in technological advancements due to the inventions of Sir David and is now attempting to legislate and implement the spread of futurism to neighbouring territories.”
See all Near Futurists' Alliance students in: 2019-20