Master Project

The Master Project, which is open for MA students, is a design project run over the course of a semester. The project, framed within a thematic investigation, is carried out in small groups, each contributing to a wider group study of a given situation and project. A specific neighbourhood or context is chosen in a European city within which students act on a variety of sites.

The main design engages with three overall themes: programme - examining arrangements of use and the spatial potential in the plan, type - exploring how type informs use and affects our experience and construction – seeking a rigorous and conceptual understanding of construction.

Underlying these themes is an interest in atmosphere in relation to experience and adjustment in relation to place. In the last two years emphasis has been given in the teaching to the programmatic theme of spatial planning and then to building type or typology. This year we are focusing on construction.

When we refer to construction we do so as both an artistic and practical endeavour. We encourage construction ideas which, through their strategy and detail, reinforce the idea of the building, the space within and the space between. We expect a practical understanding and an appropriate respect for structure and material. What we seek overall is an expression of an appropriate character, atmosphere and presence through the physicality of construction. Our interest is in the relationships between building, place and use. We therefore prioritise a phenomenological approach to the study of this theme which is analytical but based upon ideas and concepts rather than rules and dogma.

SS 2022 – Master Project Landform and Infrastructure
Sustainable settlements in Mallorca

The studios’ continued investigation into exploring definitions of a sustainable architecture focusses this semester upon patterns of development and re-interpretating the ground to support future inhabitation. To develop an enabling strategy that modifies and adjusts the land, reinforcing the sense of place and providing for the basis of a settlement to be established or extended is to make what we may call a ‘Landscape Infrastructure’.

The saddle-backed hill of Maiden Castle dominates the surrounding Dorset landscape in south-west England. First occupied in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age it was subsequently re-settled in the early iron Age and by the Romans and again briefly in the 4th century. It may be seen as a paradigm of a ‘landscape infrastructure’. The site was shifted and adjusted to create a framework for settlement which had a special sense of place. The structure of embankments and ridges, originally built for defence now offers opportunities for reverie and hiking. Thus, the original shaping of the ground continues to encourage different kinds of occupation. The garden allotments adjacent to Fulham Palace in south-west London are organised as a pattern of plots to provide domestic horticulture. Accessed by a network of primary and secondary pathways the individuality of each plot becomes evident by the small building structures erected for the storage of garden tools, vine covered terraces for sitting and other structures mostly built from found materials. Water pumps are located strategically at small clearings across the site and communal pavilions provide toilet facilities, a shop and a place to chat. Both examples inspire ideas about patterns of development enabling inhabitation and community.

The projects will explore how the ground of a given site can at first be understood forensically before consideration is given to how it may be adjusted and stabilised to provide for a specific settlement: a caravan park, a social housing cluster, a rural short stay retreat and a light industrial compound. The ecological footprint of the proposals will be a central component to the investigation with an insistence on demonstrating ideas to Re-use, Replenish, Regenerate and the principles of Circularity and passive low-energy use. The enabling strategies that form the basis for the placing of buildings will aim to be both precise and indeterminate at the same time: precise in their form and dimension but also indeterminate in the way that they anticipate use and occupation in an unknown future.

The setting for our projects will be the Balearic Island of Mallorca, a country in which the land is defined so much by its geology and topography. Significantly affected by the detrimental effects of tourism and unsustainable development some local innovators and developers on the islands are positively encouraging the re-growth of local industry that can support the development of an environmental architecture based on permanence and passive technologies and the use of local materials such as Marés stone, Posidonia Oceanica (s’alga) and ceramics. We will engage with these innovators such as IBAVI (intsitut Balear de l’Habitage), other producers and manufacturers and visit important and relevant local architecture in order to inform both the strategy and detail of our projects.

Stephen Bates and Bruno Krucker, March 2022
Landform and Infrastructure Site locations


SS 2022
Landform and Infrastructure – Semester brief

Semester Introduction

Introduction Exercise one and two

Introduction Exercise three: Strategy

Introduction Exercise four: Spatial organisation

Introduction Exercise five: Construction

Introduction Exercise six: Small moments

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