Project 1: Instrument

The grain and texture of a city is a register of the seasonal transitional states of the natural and man-made landscape and in which the city is built, defined as much by how it is occupied, used, remembered, it’s history and associations as by spatial qualities and physical and environmental dimensions qualities.  So to begin to consider how an architecture could respond to these transitional landscapes we need to look, and then to see; to tune-in our senses, calibrate our experiences, and find an appropriate method of recording, mapping and documenting the city and landscape to convey the our findings.

So the first task will be to look and record the site around St Georges Weir, Oxford: sketching, photographing, modelling, research, making and experimentation, to define your personal response to the critical qualities of the place.  Based on this initial reading of the “raw materials”, you will then fine tune the process of “looking” by making a 1:1 device, an “Instrument”, to allow you to “see” and “record” the site.

The “Instrument” needs to be highly portable, appropriate for use in Oxford and Finland (at temperatures down to -20degC and up to 1m deep in water) and finely crafted.  The fabrication of the “Instrument” is itself another response to the act of seeing: a register of the “observer” and the “observed”; the city, the place, the landscape.

The “readings” will form the basis of your “Compo:Site” section for the “Autio:Tupa” group project, and the “instrument” will be taken to Finland to unravel the transitional landscape of Suomenlinna, the site for your “Ice:Station” proposals.

1: “Observation”

  • Make a “catalogue” of how the site has been changed or adjusted in response to the transitional landscape, history, climate, topography, occupation, spatial qualities or something else. What has stimulated the “adjustment”?
  • Record each change in situ, locate each change within a site drawing, and consider the transition from what to what?

2: “Tune in”

  • Choose one observation that is most revealing of the place; measure, draw, model, and research the observation at an appropriate scale to form your initial “reading”
  • Carefully examine and consider your “readings” of your chosen observation
  • Document the tools in your observation and how they are used, consider the response of the place to being observed

 3: “Propose”

  • Experiment and test how your observations can be repeated, strengthened, be more sensitive, be more revealing, and be better documented
  • Design and make, test and improve an “instrument” (event, installation, device or object) in response to your   observations and experiments for the review on site.


What is the nature of the change?  How is it manifest? Is it deliberate or accidental? Is it a singular or multiple? What does it respond to? What does it tell you about the place?  How long does it last? Is it seasonal? Is it always the same? What are it’s qualities? Does it delight? Repulse? Or is it useful?

Materials, Media and Drawing:

Use any media, material or technique that is appropriate to best communicate your ideas

Review:                Monday 14th October Week 4            On-site in Oxford



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