DS15 is a studio that uses experimental methods, based mostly on “Chance Operations” to develop new forms of architecture. We develop strangely poetic architectural components out of processes that challenge the ideas of authorship, intentionality, causality, concepts and meaning, normally considered central to the production of architecture.
Students are encouraged to swap pieces of work with each other and to design notation systems forming instructions from which their colleagues make work. The students therefore act as designers, collaborators, clients and contractors for each other. The resultant objects, made collectively by the group form a catalogue of parts available for the use of all members of the studio in their individual projects.
Collaborative work is an important part of our studio ethos and this year the students worked in groups of four to produce integrated masterplans for a further education college sited on the River Thames in Barking East London. The site hosts the spectacular Dagenham Market, whose festival-like character the students were encouraged to draw from and to incorporate into their masterplans. Each individual student then designed a substantial building and some student accommodation for colleges of music and performance, health and beauty, and construction and mechanics.
In order to experience the spirit of formal invention and its application to an architectural programme of communal living, we undertook a richly rewarding study tour to France to view several works by Le Corbusier, the highlights of which were an overnight stay in the Monastery of La Tourette near Lyon and visit to the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp. These visits inspired the students to integrate the highly inventive formal and material components generated by chance operations into a cohesive whole incorporating complex programmatic requirements, while simultaneously responding to each other’s projects on a challenging urban site.