Since the times of the ancient city-states, civic architecture embodied the powers and responsibilities invested in the city’s institutions by its inhabitants; hence, we could argue that the civic relationship between the citizens’ interactions, its institutions, and the achievement of order in the city has been symbolised in public spaces and architecture throughout history. Architecture and urban design construct the built environment where all our activities take place; they frame and define the spaces where our lives occur and create places that resonate in our memories and experience. This relationship has been further emphasised in the twenty-first century by the impact architecture has on the environment. The architecture of our time must be defined by our ability and capacity to respond to conditions emerging from climate change to create a sustainable future.
Atelier 03 brought into focus the culture/community/architecture/city relationship by concentrating on the notion of making & thinking and questioning the role that production can have in the contemporary metropolis. Richard Sennett pointed out that, historically the relationship between craft and community was inseparable. In the medieval guilds, the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation made them sustainable, as ‘knowledge capital’ translated into the guild’s economic power (2008). For these ‘communities’ knowledge was sacred, and it translated into powers of various types: economic, cultural, political, social, etc. However, as centuries progressed the vital relationship between making and learning, and the transmission of such knowledge back into the community deteriorated with the emergence of new professions and the invention/discovery of novel technologies. The weakening of this link resulted in the devaluation of the social standing of craftsmanship and the fragmentation of the connection between hand and head – between making and thinking (Sennett 2008).
Atelier 03’s line of interrogation will be shaped by three questions:
It is vital to think about Architecture as a discipline that has at heart a concern to explore creatively the processes that give rise to the environments we inhabit, and the way we perceive them – an architecture of inquiry (Ingold 2013:10). An architecture of inquiry should question the generation of form, the use of materials, the flows of energy and movement, the tangible and intangibles characteristics of space, the impact of spaces on its users, the use of technology and environmental strategies, the weaving of textures and surfaces, and the application of architectural theories and experiences. An architecture of inquiry that must explore the discipline’s core ideas and values from within while considering the external conditions that have influenced and defined the discipline.
The project explored a ‘CRAFTSMANSHIP CENTRE’ based in Nottingham, which embodied the notion of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship was understood in the broadest sense and the centre could focus on the production of an object (books, furniture, ceramics, beer, glass, etc.), a process (calligraphy, printing, healing, brewing, architectural thinking, etc.) or a discipline (anthropology, politics, urbanism, etc). The object, process or discipline emerged from, and was aligned to the student’s line of enquiry in regards to production in the city and contributed to the improvement of the city’s urban spaces. Students determined the type of ‘making community’ that the Craftsmanship Centre will be accommodating.