IT’S BEEN A strange and challenging year in the Lab, as everywhere else. It began as usual, in style, with the black tie Master’s Banquet to welcome our MArch students to Westminster. In an equally extraordinary event to last year, incoming students spent the first eight days of their degree exploring and learning about the many opportunities to speculate and experiment in the Lab as they created nine courses of a unique, spatial dining experience for our Vice-Chancellor and special guests. For those unable to attend, we held a new take on Afternoon Tea later in the year. For our BA and BSc undergraduates, we re-invented the long-standing Digital Fabrication Workshop, beginning an extended and highly fruitful partnership with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The workshop this time included both first and second year students – over 300 people! – all working on the same project, focused on investigating nine key buildings from the distinguished heritage of SOM. Working with Partners and Project Architects from their London office, we used a diverse range of digital technologies and architectural media to unravel the design principles of landmark buildings like the Hancock Tower and Exchange House. The work then formed part of SOM’s own fantastic exhibition in Ambika P3. Sadly, the show was set to have its grand opening mid-March… The exhibition is still there, waiting for the world to open again and hopefully there will still be an opportunity for you to enjoy it. Life post-lockdown has seen the Lab go virtual, offering online support as best we can through our web platform, as well as the start of new and unexpected projects. One has involved setting up a mini-production line for personal protective equipment. Working remotely from home, the Lab team has been busy 3D printing face shields, contributing to the collective efforts of the 3D Crowd UK and The Industry Prints groups of digital makers, as well as supplying a number of care homes directly with face shields made in the Lab with our laser cutters and vacuum former. We’ve also turned our attention to developing an alternative for our students and the School of Architecture + Cities for this year’s OPEN exhibition. Building on expertise developed in our XR Lab we’ve been working with game engines to create an alternative and experimental, but, we hope, nonetheless memorable celebration of the amazing work produced by our students this year under very difficult circumstances. We hope you can experience and enjoy this alternative view of the students’ work, and very much look forward to welcoming everyone back to the physical Lab soon.
We want to particularly thank SOM for generously sharing their time and expertise this year for our Architectural Media Workshop.