Design Practices

The Design Practices Research Group (formerly Making and Practice) is one of five new research groups established by the School of Architecture and Cities in 2021. The research group draws together design practitioners who innovate in their field, with academics and teachers who use design methods and processes within their research, including professional practice, model-making, fabrication, live projects, innovative construction, publishing and environmental design. The group aims to help foster and focus a research community of both established and early years’ researchers working within a critically engaged environment. Reflection on this collective practice is intended to inform the future intellectual and practice agenda of The Design Practices Research Group. 

The group is closely linked into teaching and practice across all areas of the School of Architecture and Cities from design studio to technical studies, professional practice and cultural context. 

Architecture + Cities REF Portfolios

Architecture + Cities Research Forum: “A Foot on the Earth, a Hand in the Sky: Gaza Experimental Lab” by Nasser Golzari, Yara Sharif, and Francois Gerardin
12 February 2024

The presentation unpacked current work by the Gaza Experimental Lab to rethink Gaza and its reconstruction with interventions that reimagine a world built out of urgency and scarcity, challenging colonial powers and the geography of exclusion by re-appropriating discarded resources. Recent work includes a self-built prototype that tries to offer alternatives on the ground by using materials salvaged from the ruins. The components assembled are an accumulation of what has been collected, used, or appropriated in collaboration with families to reconstruct fragments of their neighbourhoods and homes in Gaza and Palestine.

Architecture + Cities Research Forum: Sites of Learning by Scott David Batty
29 January 2024

This presentation explored the role of the construction site as an essential component of architectural education. It addressed the questions: What kind of educational experience do construction sites offer to architecture students and how is this different from campus based learning? What is unique about the building site as an educational environment? How is this type of learning an example of active engagement and equity, diversity and inclusion? Scott drew on his work with a cross section of over 800 students and architectural practice and the construction industry in London.

Routledge Encyclopaedia of Technology and the Humanities
P. Silver and W.F. McLean

Routledge will publish their much-anticipated Encyclopaedia of Technology and the Humanities on the 29th April this year. The book covers topics such as archaeology, cultural heritage, design, fashion, linguistics, music and philosophy. The field of architecture is represented by Pete Silver and Will Mclean in a chapter entitled A Critical Pedagogy for Architectural Technology.

‘The Growing Space’ Live Project in Architecture Today
Maria Kramer & Corinna Dean

Masters Architecture students at the University of Westminster have completed a lightweight, prefabricated timber structure that forms part of a therapeutic gardening project in east London. Designed by the Live Design Studio for Masters DS20 Architecture students at the University of Westminster, The Growing Space forms part of the bustling citizen community hub at London’s Cody Dock. Constructed from Douglas Fir, the lightweight timber structure provides a space for horticultural activities. The project was initiated and led by Maria Kramer.

Partners: Webb Yates Engineers, Nicholas Alexander, OfCA, Gasworks Dock Partnership

Sponsor: Rodeca

Funding: University of Westminster QHT Fund

Re-Imagine Coral Reef take part in Createch ’23 conference & exhibition
22 September 2023
Ambika P3, University of Westminster

Re-Imagining Coral Reefs, a project led by John Zhang utilising mixed reality technology as a tool for cross-disciplinary research and climate data communication, took part in this year’s Creatch’23 conference.

Sites of Learning: Sites of Meaning
22-27 September 2023
Fabrication Lab + Ambika P3

CREATECH ‘23 is an International Conference and Exhibition on technology for the design, creative, and digital industries. The event is transdisciplinary and multimedia, encouraging wide participation across the spectrum of research and practice. The conference provides a dynamic forum to present new work and share ideas around the creative opportunities enabled by emerging technologies, while the public exhibition and participatory workshops offer hands-on experience of the technologies and practices being discussed.

Technologies of Care: Thought, Cardboard and Silver Paint
Createch, University of Westminster, Marylebone Campus, Ambika P3. London
22 – 27 September 2023

Description (event/project) / Abstract (publication only): Unproductive work is sometimes called art, or waste. We don’t call it that we call it care.

DWA’s proposed new structure at the heart of the City of London is a cross between a museum and a university, its key function is to investigate technologies of care.

Such technologies are counter-creative, pointing away from capitalism’s endless accumulation and constant change. Technologies of care look after things, nothing is art, nothing waste.

(with many thanks to Dr Alessandro Ayuso for letting us use his leap models)

Doctor Watson Architects Incomplete Works Volume Five
Victoria Watson

ISBN: 9781838018030

This volume of Incomplete Works gathers together a number of speculative design projects made by Doctor Watson Architects in the early years of the 21st century. Most, if not all, of the projects began as a response to a specific architectural competition brief, however, DWA never were interested in winning a competition.

Technical Studies Thursday Evening Lectures
5th October – 7th December
Robin Evans Room – M416

The Thursday evening ‘open’ lecture series highlights new technological developments in the fields of architecture, engineering and environmental design. This year, talks cover regenerative construction, low-carbon engineering, retrofit, and materials technology. The series is organised by Will McLean and the talks are filmed by Teo Cruz. The talks take place at 6pm every Thursday evening in room M416 starting on 5th October. Talks are simultaneously live-streamed and recorded with links to stream and recordings found via URL link below.

Archigram Archival Project

After being off-line for some time, the Archigram Archival Project is now once again available to view online via the British Library’s UK Web Archive.

Architecture and Cities Research Forum: Building the LEAP’S World – Drawings for the Eastway Studiolo by Alessandro Ayuso
15 May 2023

Leaky Embodiment Alter-ego Personas (LEAPS) are figures envisioned through portraits, animations and drawings. Alien but possibly endearing, LEAPs are tragicomic actors with unwieldy bodies comprised of bulbous, mismatched, ever-changing parts. The LEAPS suggest worlds beyond themselves which do not align precisely with our own; in this slippage they are not only diagnostic; they are also devices, interjecting possibility. The Eastway Studiolo is a speculative architectural project that asks how LEAPs could aid in catalysing the presence of realms of relationality not accessible through the inclusion of normative scale figures in design.

HOLO 3 – Mirror Stage: Between Computability and Its Opposite

Guest editor Nora N. Khan assembled a cast of luminaries to consider the far-reaching implications of AI and computational culture. Organised into thematic chapters on the limits of knowledge, myths of prediction, mapping beyond language, and the (in)explainability of abstract computational processes, Khan and contributors measure the gap between machine learning hypotheticals and the mess of lived experience. From virtual assistants in the living room to algorithmic sentencing in the courtroom, the collected essays, archival research, and artworks probe our problematic faith in and deference to AI.

Production: HOLO: Alexander Scholz, Filip Visnjic, Greg J. Smith // Art Direction & Design: zmyk, Oliver Griep & Jan Spading // Copy Editor: Andrew Wilmot

Body Agent Book Launch
20 October 2022, 19:00
The Knowledge Exchange, Fabrication Lab, University of Westminster

Join us for the launch of Experiments with Body Agent Architecture, with a reading by the author, Dr Alessandro Ayuso.

Please RSVP through the link provided.

Architecture + Cities Research Seminar: Living Together, The Collective Old Oak by Andrei Martin
19 October 2022, 13.00 – 14.00

The shortage of housing is an acute and pervasive problem in the contemporary city and young people are perhaps the most affected. Faced with housing that is either exorbitantly expensive or hopelessly inadequate, they are increasingly pushed out of urban centres, isolated and marginalised. To address this condition, PLP worked with the start-up Collective to develop a strategy for new and affordable ways of living predicated on high-density, communality and shared experience. Collective Old Oak, in West London was the first of this model to be built and, at the time, the world’s largest co-living building.

Shaping Climate Resilient Cities of Tomorrow: Emerging Challenges in Environmental Design
13 May 2022
NextBuilt Conference, Bologna, Italy

Cities are becoming increasingly affected by climate change while also being one of its major contributors. Since more sustainable and resilient design approach represents a key challenge for the near future, the Next-Generation built environment will most likely focus on regenerative design, adaptation rather than mitigation, and the ability to deal with uncertainty in both acute and chronic ecosystems and communities’ status. How to drive this transition? Which the key priorities and which the barriers?

Experiments with Body Agent Architecture: The 586-year-old Spiritello in Il Regno Digitale
Alessandro Ayuso

The book puts forward the notion of body agents: non-ideal, animate, and highly specific figures integrated with design to enact particular notions of embodied subjectivity. Body agents present opportunities for architects to increase imaginative and empathic qualities in their designs, particularly amidst a posthuman condition. Structured around speculative historical fiction from the viewpoint of body agents, the book presents a fragmented history of the figure in architecture that informed the process of creating the multi-media design experiments, moving from the design of the body itself as an original prosthetic to architectural proposals emanating from the body.

Patent for the design of a Helical Structural Framework

Pete Silver, Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Cities has been awarded a patent from the UK’s Intellectual property Office for his design for a helical structural framework. Hopefully, we shall be able to prototype and construct this at a large scale on campus.

Act without Agency, Production without Purpose, Competence without Comprehension

Professor Sean Griffiths will present a paper, ‘Act without Agency,Production without Purpose, Competence without Comprehension’ at this year’s Royal Academy Architecture Symposium on Tuesday 7th of June 2022.

Inclusive Tectonics
27 April 2022, 6:00 PM – 8:00PM (EST)
Online | New York Institute of Technology

Based on almost 10 years of applied research by Paolo Cascone between Europe and Africa, his work investigates the potential role of indigenous and spontaneous architecture in the contemporary debate on sustainability in architectural design: How to respond to climatic changes reconciling nature with tekné? What is the social role of technology? How architects reconsider their practices in supporting community-oriented projects?

These questions are discussed through a number of paradigmatic projects in order to shape an interdisciplinary approach that bridges different knowledge.

Doctor Watson Architects, Incomplete Works, Volume One
Victoria Watson

Citation (publication only):

This is the first in a series of Incomplete Works documenting the practice of Doctor Watson Architects. These architects have recoiled from the methods of architectural design to invent a new form of material practice known generically as Air Grid.

Revolution? Architecture and the Anthropocene discussion and book launch
31 March 2022, 6.30pm

The University of Westminster and Lund Humphries are delighted to celebrate the launch of Revolution? Architecture and the Anthropocene, a new book by Susannah Hagan hat asks why architecture has lagged behind the environmental curve for the last fifty years. Susannah Hagan will be in conversation with Harry Charrington, University of Westminster; Brian Ford, University of Nottingham; Ricardo de Ostos, NaJa & deOstos and the AA School of Architecture, Marie Braithwaite and Lindsay Bremner, University of Westminster.