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AGAINST THE FLOW

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Unit 24 employs film, video, animation, drawing and modelling techniques to generate architectural propositions, harnessing the potential of time-based media in the production of space.


This year’s theme focused on shifting notions of the ‘local’ and the ‘global’, reading both not as spaces, but as flows. The world has imploded. Instantaneous information flow rules all – the new ‘digital local’ makes the Global Village into the Google Earth. Location is irrelevant… or is it? Local news. Local weather. The local pub. Local architects. What do we mean when we talk about the local? Is it a place? Is it part of the psyche? Can its value be measured? Who can be a local? Can technology ever be local? And what about architecture?

Challenging the forces of universalising technological progress, we invited students to find a ‘critical regionalism’ for the information age, interrogating globally available open-source technologies in search of the particular and the local. We questioned the tendency to retreat into the home- grown, the tribal and the regional and asked whether the local simply inflects the global condition or whether it can be a driver for change.


The Thames then. Our local river. A shimmering causeway flowing to the centre of the universe, or the disgusting urinal of a washed-up, morally bankrupt city? Defining the Thames in the singular is facile. At once staggeringly ugly and magnificently sublime, its length spans across innumerable conditions: cupping the sweetbreads of international corporate investment but also cultivating new ecosystems. It has witnessed the emergence and growth of London and will outlive it.

In November, we travelled to and dispersed ourselves throughout Japan; walking the river route against the flow from Osaka to Kyoto; exploring backstreets in Tokyo; visiting Hiroshima; sailing to Naoshima, hoping to learn from what Arata Isozaki termed ‘Japan-ness’: a local architecture that can harness the forces of globalisation.

Year 4 students proposed filmic architectures that utilised the estuarine zones in and around the Thames, searching for an alternative future of the local, while
year 5 students developed their own personal agendas locally and globally.

Unit 24 is supported by a broad network of associated professionals working in sectors ranging from architecture to film, animation, sound design, motion graphics, urban design and contemporary art. Contributions from these professionals serve as a counterpoint to the theoretical discourse within the unit.

This year students benefited from animation masterclasses with Johnny Kelly and Douglas Fenton, sound workshops with Paul Bavister, collaborations with film sound composer Kevin Pollard, and scanning workshops with ScanLab.