“Form must have content and that content must be linked with nature”
– Alvar Aalto
Unit E’s work this year focuses on issues of architecture and mobility, as first theorised by Archigram in the 1960s but recontextualised through today’s refugee crisis. Students went to a refugee camp in Sweden, designed for single men who had already gone through the processes of being taught Swedish and local administrative and social structures. Five refugees from 5 different countries spoke of their experience on campus, and raised a number of problems created by the design, including isolation from each other and from local facilities, the impossibility of applying their skills for want of equivalent Swedish certificates, the cost of living in Stockholm, and the difficulties of integration (the camp had been vandalised by arson a few weeks before). The students were given three sites in suburban locations (one is a real site for 300 refugees for next year, the other two are hypotheticals) , think up temporary, factory designed or permanent housing and integration solutions for refugees, and to reflect on their effects on local environments and social circumstances.
Students started this year with a study of Le Corbusier’s Cabanon to reflect on minimum housing, plug-in units and construction techniques and costs. Then they went on to explore Japanese joints and constructed one to one models. Following this they analysed case studies by Aalto and Lewerentz to familiarise themselves with local conditions and building techniques. On site they were able to start their case studies and to combine reflections on site conditions and dynamics with reflections on creative briefs that might encourage integration with existing residents and supplement the poor infrastructural facilities in the neighbourhood (giving and taking). They were encouraged to use a range of different intuitive and analytical techniques for developing their early concepts and volumetrics.
Guillermo Cano Fernandez