A long review of a longer day of research


For some start of unit inspiration and research I hit the V&A Museum in London during the weekend of London Design Festival. I’m such a good student, I only knew about the one held in Clerkenwell and not the gloriously larger one held citywide. However, since it was the last week it didn’t deter me from giving myself blisters trying to get to as many places as I could navigate my way safely to. Armed with a notepad and a camera, I got my head in gear.

Seeing ‘Timber Wave’ was on my recommended list of sights because it related to my initial thoughts about my minor project having been influenced by my previous work with interventions and public installation work. While quite a sight to see I found myself more interested to see in the brief descriptor of the work, the its production including the phrase “using lamination techniques normally used in furniture making”. This in part was reassuring to me that my initial far flung ideas of making guerilla wallpaper rolls for the exterior of unsightly buildings in heavily built up areas, wasn’t quite as far flung as I had first feared. If they could make a weatherproof sculpture using techniques exported from a much different

On a purely superficial note, the concept of ornamenting the exterior of a building in an extremely urbanised environment, did seem to be an unusual and delightful sight in reality. While my own attempt to such a concept would not choose to be sculptural in its outcome, I think the forms within the organic material itself are mutually ympathetic. Its stands out completely from its surrounding 4 lanes of Cromwell Road and worms its way into the museum doors with its curves and natural sensuousness. If only I had stroked it! It was jarring in its addition to the classic and familiar decoration of the building, but that is the intention, right?


Next on my list of research experiences was the Serpentine Gallery’s current Pavilion, ‘Hortus Conclusus’ designed by Peter Zumthor. As my last stop of an unexpectedly hot day, I think my complete lack of curiosity en route is testament to its effect of rekindling my surprise and intrigue. When I found myself facing a coarse black, brick shaped edifice with 2 entrances cut into the sides.

Yet it seems there was much abstract thought behind the purpose and function of the building, that has been trickling through my reflection of the experience as a whole. Intended to serve as a place of calm within the busy sights and sounds of London, the ‘garden within a garden’ is a natural pocket of stillness that has been achieved not only through architecture but through the use of nature. Not just the use of nature, but the refocusing of our attention on it in order to promote and strengthen our relationship with it. In my opinion, at any rate.

At a simple level, the idea of an enclosed or surrounded garden is interesting to my developing ideas. How do they relate to each other? I’m not sure either minds, but through us, we might reinterpret the impression of how one changes in the presence of the other. Is nature made to look weaker when surrounded by concrete? Or is concrete made to appear soft when it is adorned by leaves and flowers? I think it works both ways and the dichotomy is fought in the architecture of the pavilion. Ultimately the shape of the building is a defensive, protective shell that is meant to act as the physical and spiritual counterpoint to its contents. And yet in spite of my earlier questions, these plants don’t seem trapped or demeaned at all. Their protection here has made them all the more beautiful and perhaps a little stronger, when contrasted to the expanse of sky they lazily stretch towards.

Maybe this is the perfect blend of building and plant bed.

So. Shaking up urban with organic seems to be an emerging and (more importantly) feasible train of thought for this unit. I would still want to explore this is in a two dimensional and pattern based way, by possibly combining it with the subject synonymous with modernity and the city: technology. The idea of repatriating methods and materials from one practice into another, while intriguing, is not something I would necessarily aim for achieve in this unit. In particular I would seek to create the pattern work to reflect my concept and find relevant applications for it that support and enhance the work.


London Design Festival

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011

Timber Wave at the V&A

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