An Architecture of the Wind

Year: 2016 - 2017

An Architecture of the Wind

U16 is design laboratory that enjoys the challenge of making difficult things. We seek to generate work and ideas that hold the confidence to find their own language of expression and invention. There is a strong emphasis on exploration through a range of made and drawn physical production.

This year we will take an interest in finite and infinite processes, and the exploration of the edge of the remote. To find this edge we will travel to Reykjavik and venture deep into the remote Icelandic wilderness to explore and work inventively over immense scales of time, in places very much alive. We wish to consider how one might activate remote territories rich with aggressive natural phenomena, bursting bellies of thermal heat, and a stretching of time from midnight sun to full days of darkness.

The focus of the unit is as much about noticing the discreet nuances of strangeness in a place as it is being curious and inventing into it. How is architecture able to work with the environment and draw from its immense scale, strangeness and power? We will begin to find out through embarking on a hunt into the wild. The hunt becomes the first act of proposition. Lead by discovery but tested through an equal measure of invention, we will stir up these hostile territories to wonder, how might one design for a curious sense of existence? The design projects set throughout the year seek to imagine new and unapologetic architectures that engage directly within the natural forces at the perceived edge of the civilised world.

We are not alone in our desire to explore this immense and rogue terrain. Iceland’s tourism is on the rise and every year the city of Reykjavik, the main port of entry for any traveler visiting Iceland, received over a million visitors. Seeing that the country only has 330,000 inhabitants, one could easily imagine the mounting pressure on the country’s resources and infrastructure due to the surge in tourism.

This challenging dilemma is the starting point of the year – how could you invent and design architectural interventions that enables an engaging way to meet and experience the fantastic landscapes, without harming its sensitive ecologies or depleting its resources. And upon returning to the city of Reykjavik again, how could your understandings of larger timescales, and a deeper poetic sense towards such unusual landscape dynamics, open up ways of thinking about the city itself?