BA INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE
INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE IS a distinct contextbased practice concerned with the re-reading, reusing and altering of an architectural shell. Whether at the scale of the city, a building or a room, the ‘interiorist’ always starts with something and within something. Thus, Interior Architecture is a creative practice concerned with re-imagining the present to anticipate future need, rather than simply preserving the past. This year we focused on ideas for the future, anticipating scenarios for the home and at university. Of course, none of us predicted what was about to come. Project sites this year included the University of Westminster’s own 29 Marylebone Road, the Ragged School Museum, Spitalfields Market, the Horniman Museum, and Hansard Mews in Shepherds Bush.
IN FIRST YEAR students on the BA Interior Architecture course are introduced to underlying concepts and principles associated with the discipline, and learn fundamental processes, skills and techniques relevant to conceive, develop, resolve and communicate spatial design proposals. They are also introduced to the use of graphic design, CAD and 3D-modelling software as well as Cultural Context, Technical Studies and the Faculty’s Fabrication Lab.
In the first semester students are set a range of assignments and short projects: a light-box study, to investigate qualities of light and scale through photography and drawing; and group research on existing built projects to understand intent and representation. Building on these skills they are then asked to design their first piece of interior architecture. This year, working in teams, students surveyed and modelled part of the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill.
The students were then set a design task to create a transformable micro-architecture in the Gallery Square space to address the needs and aspirations of the workers and visitors to the museum – we called it Museum-tecture! In the second semester, students individually re-ordered the interiors of Hansard Mews properties for an increasingly urgent programme of specialised repair, repurposing, up-cycling or recycling of ‘stuff ’, considering also issues of waste, existing buildings and lifestyles. The Shepherds Bush location, burdened by consumer waste but strong in community potential, fuelled students’ site and context investigations. While developing an understanding of re-making and reuse practices and ecological design, they iteratively investigated materials and techniques with an equally utopian eye.
THIS YEAR, OUR interior students went on a journey exploring pursuits of projection and speculation. We considered the world through a cinematic lens, abstracted our scripted characters and speculated on the settings we would inhabit in alternate scenarios. We started the first semester working with the third year cohort, investigating the future of our domestic spaces. Together we studied production design and created sets for short films, contemplating how our simple domestic activities would have developed by 2069. Continuing with the cinematic theme, we began our design project set in Spitalfields Market, London and envisioned how two established film characters would inhabit this bustling setting. We abstracted the personas to enable us to interpret their relationship spatially through modelmaking and collage. We then set the stage and designed spaces for them to inhabit together within the Victorian market buildings.
The second semester focused on a speculation about alternate scenarios by redesigning The Ragged School Museum in Mile End, London. Radical scenarios needed to be investigated and researched to discern which skills would be required to live in this alternate environment. Through this exercise in extreme imagination we were able to uncover aspects of our own habits and culture, and reflect on our contemporary choices and inhabitation. In parallel with this, we studied a variety of materials, constructions and structures to establish relevant materials to use in our design. This was developed through a study of atmospheres, inhabitations and technical detailing.
THIS YEAR STUDENTS deployed the Design of Future Scenarios as an anticipatory tool to creatively and critically prepare for, and respond to, some of the great challenges of our times. Guided by practitioners and experts from cinematography, production and set design, and in collaboration with second year students on the Domestic Future(s) Workshop, the group speculated, staged and animated rituals of our future lives.
The term advanced to consider the future of education as informed by implications of digitalisation, technological revolution, human intelligence and their representations in fiction. Speculating on the form and role of the University of the Future, the group concluded with the design of Future Incubator(s); spatial metaphors that simulate future learning as a multidisciplinary, interactive, and customisable experience, staged upon the emerging interiors of 29 Marylebone Road, London, in the year 2069.
The Thesis Project is the main pursuit for Year 3 students. Each student is asked to identify a host building located in London and devise a programme based on their analysis and personal design interests. They pursued these ideas through an array of techniques, including material testing and experimentation, 3D scanning, projection mapping and animation. The diversity of schemes and depth of speculation is indicated by a sampling of project descriptions and locations: House of Chronicles – a bookstore forefront for a new Occult in disguise; Reimagining Electric Brixton – the future of the night scene in a 24-hour multipurpose club; House of god – a strip club towards the liberation of women; Alive Inside – a performance and dance centre for the elderly; Ravensbourne River-side – a local wildlife discovery centre, otter sanctuary and a mycelium facility in Lewisham; The Bell Jar – a wellbeing youth hub in Clerkenwell; Medical Revival – a centre for repurposing medical waste; SmartRoom – a clothing and sustainability centre for the future of retail design.