Kate Darby & Jos Smith
This seminar series aims to enable students to place D&M projects within a critical context informed by the English rural condition. It provides a foundation in the cultural and societal landscape within which an architect at Hooke Park must operate. It equips students with the knowledge and mechanisms to form an intellectual position with respect to contemporary debates surrounding rural architectures in our specific geographic, historical and environmental context. It aims to provoke a personal interest in developing a true sense of place during the 16 months at Hooke Park and an attitude towards the implications of designing architecture in a rural as opposed to urban environment.
The series will be delivered over two separate days, the first in late October and the second in early December. Each day will consist of three or four talks presenting inter-connected themes, some of which will be given by specialist invited speakers. Students will be required to read texts beforehand (typically 60-100 pages per day) and some will be nominated to present their analysis of the readings to the group.
Students are required to submit two pieces of writing throughout the course. The first will be a 1000-word essay with a focus on the construction of a concise argument relating to one of the questions raised during the first seminar day. This must be submitted by December 1st. The second will be a 2000 word illustrated essay on any of the topics covered by the course, handed in a the beginning of Term 2.
Seminar Day 1: Sources of Ruralism
Sessions throughout day 1 will explore the history of the idea of ‘The Rural’, the way in which it has been re-invented in different periods and how this has been expressed architecturally. Drawing on ideas from the Pastoral, the Picturesque and the Sublime the seminars will enable an understanding and a critique of Hooke Park as an environment.
Session 1: Cultural status of rural (Jos Smith)
What is the rural? What is the countryside? How far is the idea of ‘the rural’ a product of urban culture? What happens when the rural starts to speak for itself, when the rural is seen, not as a subservient district of the city, the true centre of culture, but as a centre of culture in its own right? These questions will be addressed with reference to the Pastoral, the Picturesque and the Sublime and finishing with the rise of Realism.
Session 2: Rural Utopias (Kate Darby)
‘Proto-environmentalism’ as a reaction to C19 industrialisation on man and society will be examined via Ruskin, Morris, the Arts and Crafts and the Garden City Movements. This will be contrasted with early modern environmentalism as epitomised by Carson’s book, Silent Spring. The resultant legacies in attitudes to rural architecture, planning, art and occupation of the landscape will be discussed.
Session 3: In search of the wild (Jos Smith)
The last ten years have seen a boom in art and literature concerned with natural environments. We will consider why this might be, thinking in particular about the impact of the environmental crisis on our relationship with, and our understanding of, nature. For these ‘New Nature Writers’ the arts have an important role to play in the public consciousness, offering ‘a vital force for brokering dignified and durable relationships between people and places’ (Robert Macfarlane)
Session 4: The meaning of trees (Ivan Morison)
The artists Heather and Ivan Morison will talk about their work. The Morisons use land and the management of natural resources as a medium, and a canvas. They own an arboretum in Wales called Arthog where they plant trees they have gathered from working around the world. This forest acts as a natural resource for their sculptures. They represented Wales in the 52nd Venice Biennale 2007 and are currently exhibiting an installation on the south side of Tate Modern.
Seminar Day 2: Cultural Ecologies
Sessions throughout day 2 will consider the way that ecology can inform and in some cases, determine culture. Taking Dorset as a case study, seminars will address the way that certain cultural forms might arise from interactions with the place discussing examples from art, literature and architecture and making reference to among others Thomas Hardy and Common Ground. Past and renewed interest in the vernacular will be looked at and re-evaluated within the context of the current environmental debate.
Session 1: Local Distinctiveness (Jos Smith)
This seminar will ask what is meant by the term ‘local distinctiveness’, and how a reflection on the locally distinct might inspire creative new perspectives on place as well as conserving old ones. This will be explored by considering two case studies: Common Ground, an arts and environmental charity that have been based for the last 15 years in Shaftesbury, Dorset; and the author and cartographer Tim Robinson and his company Folding Landscapes based in Roundstone, Connemara, on the west coast of Ireland.
Session 2: CIAM and the Rural Vernacular (Joshua Mardell)
The talk will introduce the work of enigmatic architect John Voelcker in the early post-war period. At a localised level he founded a country practice developing farm typologies and modernising husbandry practice. At an international level, he was a vociferous polemicist at CIAM and its progeny Team 10. A shared interest in “rural vernaculars” will be considered as a conduit binding these two seemingly contrasting paths. Voelcker’s built output will be contextualised with reference to the CIAM conception of rural habitat and the many and diverse non-metropolitan CIAM schemes.
Session 3: Constructed Landscapes (Eelco Hooftman)
Landscape has become the New Emperor’s Clothing of architecture. Even Rem Koolhaas (OMA) recently proclaimed that he will abandon urbanism to focus on the countryside: the territory becomes an area for work and speculation; it is “the next big thing.” Now then… speed the plough and milk the cow; let’s define a new discipline of Landscape Ruralism. Eelco Hooftman, director of landscape architecture practice GROSS. MAX will expand on these ideas with reference to his own teaching and practice.