Tag Archives: Collage

Studio – The Make/Do Yard – First Review and Follow Up Tutorial…

Please find below the drawings I presented at Review last week. At the end of the post is a statement of intent for the next few weeks of the project…

The project is for a Yard (as both an architecture and a collective noun for a co-operative group of people), in Hackney Wick, east London. The site is Queen’s Yard, immediately adjacent to the Lea Navigation’s Hackney Cut which borders the future 2012 Olympic Park.

Originally conceived as a critique of legacy in the Olympic development, the Yard provides a point of expression for the vital communities active in Hackney Wick – artists and other alternative culture groups, craftsmen, breakers and community gardeners – who are familiar with a culture of transformation, re-use, and making the most of what they have. It considers education and learning as a personal reading of transformation and regeneration, and proposes that an interpretation of the Yard as a school (based around the core activities of making things) offers the opportunity to sustain this vital culture through the pressure of vast, imposed ‘regeneration’.

The collages below explore key themes in my project. The first demonstrates a technique, derived from Pete Sabara’s ‘Healthy Section’, that simply sets up ‘aspirational’ programmatic themes, in a basic spatial relation, so that they can be discussed and then refined. Therefore, my Transformational Section includes 5 core elements; The Embassy; The School; The Yard; The Spa; and The Mint…

The montage below represents The Yard,as an architectural idea. The process of montage using laser printed photographs, pencils and inks  is engaged – its get me away from the computer and out into the air – which underpins my thinking for this project. This particular drawing explores and illustrates the idea that what you don’t draw is sometimes as telling as what you do. The flexible, affording qualities of a Yard for interaction between tenants – for ‘soft space’ and indeterminacy – are simply not physically ‘designed’ in the normal way. The buildings around the yard are interfaces and the unbuilt space between them shares equal architectural importance.

The School montage explores basic spatiality of ‘learning’ in specific relation to act of making. ‘Classroom’ spaces might be disparate and dispersed, yet unified architecturally, sharing a similar typology of relation to the active Yard. A condition of tenancy of the Yard might be support of the teaching operation in its education activities – by which mechanism the school underpins –  is underpinned by – the community in which it is based. It usefully sets up a discussion about modes of education, their plurality, and the consciousness of those engaged in the process. Is teaching  delivered? Or do we learn together? Should we be conscious of our engagement with a defined process of learning? Or is it an aside? Concepts of asymmetric learning (whereby differences in current states of knowledge are acknowledged) and ‘nurture’ are afforded by a reinterpretation of learning environments, specifically considered

The Mint considers the role of finance and exchange in underpinning a productive economy and how the typology of institute emerges from the genesis of currency. We have become divorced from a physical relation to that which measures production and by derivation experience a reduced frequency of face-to-face encounters accompanying the contract of exchange; the same encounters that build relationships and strengthen communities. An aspect of my project will explore mechanisms by which these encounters can be instigated and perpetuated. Following the review, we discussed how the term ‘Mint’ might be restrictive in relation to the intent described above – perhaps exchange is better facilitated by the typology of market? The concept should be redefined in terms specific to this project, but remain as a catalyst for thought. How can economics catalyze the vitality and educative processes happening in the Yard?

The collage on Embassy explored the idea of a  functionary that regulates encounter with the Yard. Upon dissection, the term Embassy actually refers to a group of people – the Ambassador and his entourage – rather than to a building typology, which is in fact termed the Chancery. It is interesting to note that a Chancery is also the term given to the office where monks of certain religious orders engage with writing and record keeping. Therefore, the Embassy perhaps has a role in the Yard as the point of reference for those wishing to interface with it, and as a literal facilitator of the exchange of knowledge. If termed more appropriately as Consulate, this agency represents a valve through which the flow of resources is regulated (an Embassy both issues visas to incoming aliens and passports to outgoing nationals). Architecturally, the Consulate may need accommodating and the requirements of this will be explored further as the tenancy of the Yard evolves.

The Spa was introduced initially as literal programme with the intent of exploiting the historic tradition of social, public bathing in the Borough of Hackney, the aquatic amenity of the Lea Valley and the surplus hot water produced in Combined Cooling, Heat and Power (CCHP) generation at the Olympic Energy Center sited just across the canal from Queen’s Yard.

However, the Spa has actually come to allude to a less literal role in the experience of learning – the importance of reflection and juxtaposition. It also refers to the importance of casual exchange in ‘piecing things together’ and even to trust implicit in contractual agreements. There is the idea that in other places, different activities take place in Spas – most notably, Swedish business deals are sometimes made in the sauna when, being naked, you have nothing to hide. Restoration, regeneration, personal ‘growth’ through transformation, re-learning the link between mind and body, perception and embodiment – all are alluded to by the Spa as a programmatic element.

Thus the Spa has come to represent the idea of a ‘change of state’. Simply being somewhere else affords different perspectives which through juxtaposition reveal aspects of self and ones own situation. Thus the literal programme of Spa may remain, all be it on a smaller scale and by a different name to that which it began. I simply want to explore the way embodied juxtaposition and difference can support social interaction in an environment conducive to learning through doing. Again, the term ‘Spa’ is perhaps restrictive and should be redefined in terms appropriate to this project.

Considering British Waterways as a tenant gives me an opportunity to introduce an aquatic element to the programme. Through revitalization of the waterways, and under its remit to diversify their use British Waterways’ network of volunteers could use the section of canal bordering Queens Yard to demonstrate work that returns it to a state fit for bathing.

Elements of this project are appropriate to explore through case studies of precedent assemblages and organisations. Below is the example shown previously for Portland Works in Sheffield. In these studies I am interested in exploring a drawing style that communicates the complexity of spatial, social and material assemblages that underpin the condition of the Yard.

The previously explored precedent of the Steel Yard in Rhode Island, US is re-worked in this drawing style to illustrate the particular assemblages comprising that condition.

The assemblage technique is then applied – in several stages and different scales – to Queen’s Yard at Hackney Wick, to pull out existing tenant offering potential to the project.


Next Steps….

3 specific scenarios, based on existing tenants, that re-imagine their condition as learning situations. Drawings will add a different layer to the montage drawing method, developing the methodology through which I am exploring my project.

Personal Manifesto, exploring and stating what I would like to get out of the rest of 5th year.

Assemblages, to set up a discussion of the spatial, social and material conditions of my project as they evolve, considering them as interdependent networks.

Basic context drawings (figure ground / site plan / location / etc.) for the upcoming Design Review in Leeds (Wednesday 22nd February)



I am pleased with the methodology that I am developing for this project – of fundamental importance is the fact that it gets me away from the computer and makes me engage with physical material and process. I believe this supports the very ideas I am trying to explore with this project.

The collages presented in this post represent the first chapter of programmatic exploration. The next chapter will be an evolution of the same technique, adding a layer of specificity by appropriating real, physical spaces that can be represented in the drawings.

The technique lends itself to the duality of complexity and simplicity that is a condition of the Yard. Very specific determinacy of tenancy and activity is complimented by the indeterminacy of the spaces between buildings. Both are important.


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Ice Cream Vans & Spatial Production…

I have produced this drawing in direct response to the advice that I should formally explore the spatial production of my chosen condition in Hackney Wick (that of the hibernating Ice Cream Vans…), in order to complement the informal reading of the condition conducted here.

I am interested in how the van and its operative intervene temporarily in a given space, influencing the spatial relationships between individuals and groups and between those ‘actors’ and their environment. For example, when the van comes to rest in a given spot, that spot temporarily becomes a ‘shop’ under the influence of codes relating to commerce, exchange and service. Etiquette also comes into play as queues are formed, bringing with them the associative baggage of social conduct and public behaviour – the things we do in queues are given a space in which to manifest themselves. The way that queue forms – its size, shape and density – are a product of the van and the environemnt in which it sits temporarily, framed by the van’s chimes. The production of a certain type of (coded) ‘space’ is both initiated and terminated by a music signal – a code of transformation and temporal change.

What else can be given a temporary lease of life? What spatial relationships can form or be transformed by the passing and pausing of objects and people? Can you release architecture for a limited time only?

Producing this drawing has also been an exercise in production. At a new school I am exposed to new working methods, often using a combination of tools with which some I am familiar and some I am not. In this example, I was able to find a detailed model of an ice cream van in Google Sketchup’s 3D Warehouse, slice it up using section planes (also in Sketchup) and then export a line drawing of a particular perspective view in DWG format (after using Sketchup’s ‘Styles’ window to give me a clean, linework view of the model). I could then open this line drawing in Adobe Illustrator, giving me ‘vectors’ that I could clean up (this process innevitably produced excess linework) and assign stroke weight and colours to. The advantage of using Illustrator over a straight 2D Graphic export to Photoshop is that the image is scalable without losing and resolution (it works using vector rather than raster images). Illustrator is also great for assembling multiple images (in PSD, PDF, JPEG…whatever format) into a single ‘collage’. It’ll update those images as you alter the originals too, so its great at providing a ‘working drawing’ that evolves in real time as you refine it. I used a combination of linework in Illustrator, exporting it to Photoshop to add colour and textures before re-importing it to Illustrator for final assembly. In Illustrator you can also ‘trace’ photographs of people (by importing the photograph, drawing a path using the pen tool on a separate layer and then deleting the photograph) to give you scalable scale figures. Printing out base drawings (such as the plan view of the ice cream van) at a reasonable scale enabled me to draw in context (such as paving or verges) quicker by hand than I could produce a decent looking image digitally. Upon scanning that hand drawn image back into the computer, I could also easily reposition it around the digital linework due to the virtue of it having been traced.

The use of Adobe Illustrator (which I had not touched prior to coming to Sheffield) and a hybrid way of working (constantly flipping between my hands and various pieces of software) was the new bit for me in all of this – something I hope to continue and improve in this Studio.

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Ice Cream Vans…(hibernation)

Hi Sam,

This is good.Yes, a detailed study of the van is also needed.

Two other things to think about:

1. Zoom out – you need to study this condition from a slightly larger distance – one where you cansee the context of the space AND start to draw the vans migration out from the site across eastLondon. How does the situation you are looking at fit in with the immediate context? I have got to sayan axo would be good for this. Figure out how to draw one in a quick way (simple sketch up > print >hand trace?) then layer up all of your thoughts onto it.

2. You have explained the informal reading very well. Compliment it with the formal version of eachsituation or observation.Once you have done these 3 things (two above plus the van study), you need to review all the themesand issues that you have raised (clearly state what your intervention will be about) and then work onproposing an intervention that disrupts or changes things, as discussed.

Hope this helps,




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Montage as an appropriate technique for this subject area (taken from ‘The Illegal Architect’ – Johnathan Hill);

1/Montage, as a non-organic form of art, proclaims its artificiality and opposes the organic work of art, which obscures its artificiality;

2/ In organic art, the individual parts are subordinate to, and in harmony with, the overall composition, while, in non-organic art, the parts, setting and context are in contradiction with each other

3/ Montage deploys all the techniques of allegory; depletion of meaning; fragmentation and juxtaposition of parts; their dissemination through a new context

4/ The uneasy resolution of montage indicates that meaning is historically contingent, open to revision, and cultural rather than natural

5/ Montage directly engages with modes of representation outside of the discipline of architectural design, through the appropriation of procedures and images taken from the world as a whole.

6/ Although Industrialisation has produced a fragmentation of experience and perception, it has also…created the means by which the world could be comprehended and reconstructed.

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Lammas Day…

Since visiting the Hackney Archive, I’ve become intrigued by the old stories of Lammas rights that would have affected Hackney while it was still rural, right up until the the early to mid 19th Century…

The idea that ownership of, or right to use land being tied to the seasons or the stars is an interesting one, because it somehow removes direct control by those with otherwise worldly power – wealth, political standing, etc. Temporal ownership opens up ideas of shared spaces, rather than the overused expression of public/private space, it is the actual right to the space that alters in response to a momentous outer influence.

I produced the following drawing to investigate a particularly important expression of Lammas rights in Hackney’s history…



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Lammas Day

Our studio is currently focussing on retrieving specific examples / ‘situations’ involving codes (social, conduct, legal, regulatory, etc) from our experience of visiting Hackney Wick and the surrounding area last week.

This specific exploration looks at a historic event (Lammas Day, 1837) – that revealed a specific code about land use and human activity as directed by the temporal (in this case, a certain date in the year). I am interested here in how the production and use of space is affected both by social class, and the calendar…which itself is derived from a host of other social, cultural, religious and natural codes.

Lammas Day, 1837 – Temporal Change of Activity

Right up until the early parts of the 19th Century, the London Borough of Hackney was very much a rural place. By law, local landowners were allowed to farm – and recieve a return from – common land until the 1st August (Lammas Day), after which commoners could turn their animals out and take possession of anything remaining.

Lammas Day, 1837 perhaps signalled the end of rural Hackney with a particularly poor harvest leading to vast quantities of crops remaining in the fields at the time of handover. Press reports at the time describe “thousands of people descending upon Hackney Downs, reaping into the night, some staying until well past midnight”.
Manorial customs and authority that still officially governed the land ceased to have any real meaning.
It is also interesting to note that the ‘Quarter Days ‘- of which Lammas Day is traditionally one – are points of legal reference for the payment of debts and administration of leases. The following quotes best summarise this legal tradition of Quarter Days;

“There is a strong principle of English justice tied up in this – “debts and unresolved conflicts must not be allowed to linger on” past the quarter sessions.

It was deemed that however complex the case, however difficult to settle the debt, a reckoning has to be made and publicly recorded; for it is one of the oldest legal principles of this country that justice delayed is injustice.”

On the Way to the Postmodern – David J.A. Clines


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