From Material to Form: Questioning the Body

Didier Faustino and Kostas Grigoriadis

'I am in my body the way most people drive in their cars.' - Laurie Anderson

If the early 2010s favoured the ideal - minimal white drawings, architectural rigour and 1:1-scale building experiments - then the second half of the 2010s now moves to address the most urgent needs of society and the environment, such as climate change and housing for the world's increasing populations. Driven by a search for the genuine or authentic, architecture is turning to 'true', raw materials and low-tech systems. In art, a similar shift is reflected in an increase in performative works and a resurgence in painting, a technique that is seen as more 'authentic' than video and photography. Perhaps in both art and architecture, people are searching for an immediate truth of the here and the now. In a state of emergency they no longer believe in the future in or progress.

The issue at stake is a question of the body. How can ideological, aesthetic and technical design processes deal with architecture and the body? Driven by the idea that our world is not black and white, but an approximation, mix and transmutation of things, the unit will develop the usual triptych of animal body/social body/political body into a hybrid architecture, to serve as an alternative to theoretical and aesthetic radicalism, a prosthesis to heal and offer new possibilities.

The year comprises three phases: first, on defining areas of research students will develop an initial prototype at the scale of the body, which they will critically analyse through drawings and models. In the second phase, new prototypes will address the scale of both domestic space and the building. The process will be iterative, with each scale interacting with the other. In the last phase, which emphasises the city scale, prototypes will be adapted to fit different urban scenarios and narratives, acting as autonomous urban prostheses. Just as sci-fi uses the current environment to anticipate new worlds and possibilities, the unit will start from existing materials to produce new contexts for living.


Unit Staff


Didier Faustino is an architect and artist who explores the relationships between body and space. He is currently designing a library in Mexico City for the art foundation Alumnos 47 and is the new editor-in-chief of the French architecture and design magazine CREE.

Kostas Grigoriadis studied architecture at the Bartlett, followed by an MArch from the AA’s Design Research Laboratory. Having previously worked for Foster + Partners, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Architecture at the Royal College of Art with a focus on multi-material design methodologies.