Project 1: Origin


The inter-change, exchange and migration of ideas and people, welcome and otherwise, have shaped every aspect of our world, our language, music, literature, food, traditions, and history. The built environment embodies and communicates this constant movement and transformation through its organisation, fabric and atmosphere.  So with the arrival of each new community comes a new memory of home and the export of a new received image of the “New World” in goods, produce, buildings, ideas and constantly changing outpost-communities; and in turn the city is transformed with the arrival and assimilation of each new culture.

To begin to explore how architecture might respond to this migration, transformation and assimilation, to discover some of the hidden cultural treasures and begin to reveal something of the true identity of place, we will start by making a spatial record of something familiar, cherished and personal: a cultural artefact transformed and assimilated from somewhere else.


1. Choose: Choose a cultural artefact that is intriguing, familiar and personal, and that originates from outside the UK
It could be an object, tool, or instrument, it could be a favourite recipe, it could be music, a dance, story or festival
(1st task: Bring your chosen cultural artefact, or an image of it, with you to briefly present (30secs) in the evening of the unit walk)

2. Research: Find the equivalent cultural artefact in Brixton, South London; either on our unit walk or in your own time
Document your chosen cultural artefact and it’s Brixton equivalent, through drawings, images, models, movies and experiments
Define the scale, duration, age, materials or whatever makes the cultural artefact particular in each condition
Research and record the traditions, history and transformations of your cultural artefact
Record and draw all of the places that your cultural artefact comes from, all of the people it was taken up by, and it’s transformations with each relocation, community and technological advance; What is the earliest record? Where? When? Who? Why?…

3. Experiment: Consider each stage of your cultural artefact’s transformation, how is it linked to place, people, opportunity, resources, technology or traditions?
Is there something consistent as it changes?
Make your own version of the artefact that captures and conveys your understanding, or that responds to a specific context

4. Communicate: Consolidate and present your research in 2 or 3 dimensions to visually and spatially communicate the transformations, your findings, and capture the experience

Work quickly, don’t try to think too much before starting; instead “think through doing”, working to capture your first thoughts in whatever media is appropriate. But the final record of Origin should be finely crafted: the fabrication itself another response to the idea of origin and transformation and register of you the “observer” and the “observed”: the places, the people.

Critical Reading:

“Argo” by Roland Barthes, essay published in “Roland Barthes on Roland Barthes”
“Restitutions of the Truth in Pointing” by Jacques Derrida, essay published in “In The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology”

Visit: Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (Museum of Anthropology)

Materials, Media and Drawing: Any media, material or technique appropriate to best communicate your ideas, the equivalent of 2 x A1 Hybrid sheets + 4 x A1 process/testing sheet

Review: Monday 2nd October, Week 2

Brief pdf: Unit G_Treasure_1-Origin