Making and Practice

Making and Practice is one of five new research groups established by the School of Architecture and Cities in 2021. It brings together design practitioners who teach and research through practice with academics who explore and use creative practices in their research, covering the full range of Christopher Frayling’s Research For, Research Into and Research Through design, with all their permutations.

The group brings together leading and award-winning design practitioners who demonstrably innovate in their field, with leading academics and teachers who study and use design methods and processes within their research, including the school’s exceptional expertise in representation, fabrication, live projects, experimental projects and environmental design. It incorporates those who focus on testing and evaluating design performance for human and non-human comfort and their impact on the built and natural environment. Reflection on this collective practice is intended to inform the future intellectual and practice agenda of the Making and Practice Research Group. 

The group is closely linked into teaching and practice across all areas of the school from design studio to technology and cultural studies. It builds on the and incorporates the work of the group Experimental Practice, which instigated the AHRC-funded ‘Outstanding’ Archigram Archival Project and the seminal Supercrit series. It supported the production of the 2020 REF Folios, and it also currently offers access to the PhD by Practice using the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s model. In this model, eminent design practitioners discover, test, develop, challenge and disseminate the findings of their own practice experience, including through the programme’s international Practice Research Symposium community.

For more about the Making and Practice Research Group go here.

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.