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Architecture (MA)

ADS1: Pomp & Circumstance


This year began in a moment of severe uncertainty in the UK. The Covid-19 crisis tore normal life apart, and we still await its subsequent economic impact. Britain’s political institutions continue to fragment, with polarisation, incompetence, demands for justice and revanchist reaction all ongoing. The contradictions are extremely obvious and yet impossible to see clearly.

But how to approach this architecturally? Our studio looked to the past in order to predict the future. We began by studying architecture from two critical moments in the history of the UK – the work of Edwin Lutyens and Richard Rogers. Both were architects of significant talent, and both helped fashion the UK’s spatial identity at times of great change.

Lutyens’s work gave form both to the declining force of the British Empire, but also to the memorialisation of the Great War dead. He was highly original, but his vision of quirky domesticity continues to inspire conservative British taste to this day. Rogers, on the other hand, offered a vision of technocratic optimism for a country by this point rapidly fading into obscurity. From a background of 1960s social radicalism, Rogers helped define the spatial forms of early 21st century capitalism.

Projects derived from our studies tackled postcolonial parliaments and thermal inequality, the UK’s dysfunctional housebuilding industry, the cruelties of estate regeneration, the erosion of the state school system, cricket as a shared spatial experience, political struggles over statues and monuments, and loneliness exacerbated by housing inequality.

Image: Miles Dean, Two Pieces of Toast.