Northern:Nights

“The Grass is greener on the other side of the fence” or so the saying goes, which is as important for grazing sheep and reindeer, as the idea that a better future lies somewhere else.  And when environmental conditions, necessity, hardship, war, famine, political exile, persecution, opportunity, work, and/ or curiosity get the better of us, people have always made a journey from here to elsewhere; allowing hope, and the fiction born of our imagination to guide us, while simultaneously mapping our projected expectations onto the reality of somewhere new.

Harsh climates and environments like the Arctic and Sahara have encouraged people to embrace a nomadic existence, the Bedouin and Sami moving from place to place in response to the seasonal opportunities of water, grazing, materials, skills and trade, leading to a remote and isolated existence punctuated by brief but intense periods of sociable camaraderie, and the exchange and inter-change of news, knowledge and stories.

Naturally settlements form where landscape, natural resources and conditions allow and at the intersection of traditional routes: rivers, tracks, roads, railways and harbours.  These crossings, meeting places and markets, serve and support the migration, to form a vibrant “chameleon” community of people arriving, preparing, and leaving, tended by those who stay to nurture and perpetuate the melting pot of ideas, myths, legends and narratives.  And in time these histories, real and imagined become ingrained in the collective memory, in the language, in the names of streets, towns and families, and in the substance and associations of place.

This year Unit G will seek the nomads, intersections, stories, and story-tellers, as catalysts for proposition: testing and exploring spatial and conceptual relationships between place, people, purpose and permanence; employing “transformative architecture” for positive change, celebrating diversity, identity, export, exchange, and migration. Our projects will engage with community, explore architectural, cultural and social possibilities, and generate radical interventions.

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