MArch II

Using the I Ching - an ancient book of Eastern mythology - the scheme was developed by chance. The brief is to loose oneself, to work without bias, taste and preconception, to recognise qualities in conditions as they arise and work with them. To utilise the book as a tool with which to find / develop objects of study and as a means to keep a steady developmental pace.


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DS15 show

To finish at Westminster I was awarded the honours of director, I Ching consultant & construction consultant for the DS15 end of year show.

Invitation by Tom Bower.

Level 3 Plan

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Level 1 Plan

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While the architect's product is a set of drawings, architecture is some thing even bigger. It is big and complex. Like all big complex things, a lot can go wrong; from resourcing, communications breakdowns, difficult briefs, unknowable site conditions, the list goes on. Capturing this complexity in a student project is unusual, but that I hope is what this thesis project achieves. More than that, the 2 years at Westminster are an investigation in how to deal with all the chance conditions that architecture must overcome.

Level 0 Plan

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Cone Detail

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it Access - Lorry Turning Circles

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Roof Beam Casting

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The I Ching dictated that the main roof beams are too big for off-site fabrication, composite casting techniques are used on-site

Cone Type 3

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Cone Type 3 Prototype

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Complex Mould Details

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Extraction & Lighting Plan

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Cone Type 2

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Cone Type 2 Prototype

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Exploded Massing

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Massing Model

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Sectional Voids

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The use of sectional drawing continues throughout project development. With the improbability of actual construction, here distortions in drawings stand as potential voids in the natural limestone on-site, the scheme is modified accordingly, as if responding to real conditions.

Section B

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Overlooking an agricultural valley the scheme plays with existing forms, replicating them, filling them in and cutting them out to make place.

Section A

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Much is lost in the reproduction of these original drawings. Originals are available to view or as reprints.

General Arrangement Section

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Including positions of prototyped forms

Click here to view the Technical report - content includes component fabrication, Mechanical systems, acoustics and lighting.

Cast Types

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The plan begins to become resolved through many iterations and the application of more regular logics. Construction techniques are indicated by prototyping.

Click here to view the Strategic report - content includes sustainability, construction scheduling, legislative frameworks and implications & procurement.

Plan development

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Top, Scheme 5 - elements are randomly placed on site using the rotations plan developed at the beginning of the year.

Middle, Scheme 7 - to reign in the chaos, a comprehensive exercise in scheduling was undertaken. All tools, items of furniture, fixtures, fittings, lighting levels, air change rates, noise levels and areas were defined. These programmatic necessities were then placed on-site using he random plans.

Bottom, Scheme 8 - Plans evolve, here mathematical curves are inserted to create an indication of tare space.


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As an entry point, physical forms created earlier were digitised and randomly selected, scaled and rotated to become massing concepts using parametrics.

Frescoes of Matera

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By chance Matera’s Sassi is littered with decayed and frescoed limestone cave churches. The transfer process developed this year becomes associative in appearance with the church’s aesthetic. Program also reflects the ‘story telling’ of church ornamentation while site responses mirror the Sassi’s hypogenic and extruded form.

Site & Program

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A site was selected by chance. The prehistoric cave town of Matera in Southern Italy is typified by it’s old town, the Sassi. A cave town abandoned in the 50’s and now being re-inhabited, and used as a surrogate Jerusalem by the film industry. Cave houses have interior hypogenic forms and more rational form on the exterior, built from excavated material as natural caves are extended. It is a place of dynamic topographies and layers.

A series of abandoned limestone quarries to the north of the town was selected for my program of ‘Set Design & Construction Department’, part of a larger masterplan for the ‘Matera school of Film and Media’.

Complex Composite Moulds

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Complex composite moulds were also developed. These moulds were comprised of many independent parts that would be reconfigured or swapped out, materials also diversify greatly at this point.

Fabricated Sectional Studies 2

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In line with notions of scale, a way to cast massive componants was developed. Objects became modular, cast from multiple pieces in a single mould.

Sectional Studies 2

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As techniques evolve, so do results.

Tier moulds

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Fabricated Sectional Studies 1 interior

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Fabricated Sectional Studies 1

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‘Accepting whatever conditions arise’ equates the fabrication of even seriously distorted architectural drawings.

Sectional Studies 1

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An underdeveloped drawing production technique leads to a seriously distorted set of sectional studies.

Cone mould

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Scheme 2 Plan

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Chance and technique step in to declare developmental direction with scheme 2’s plan becoming unrecognisably distorted.

Scheme 2 Elevation

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As the project developed it became apparent that certain assertions were being made, these revolved around themes of scale (monumental), style (neoclassical) and components (primitive) which then became drivers for further investigations.

Scheme 2 - another very sort design exercise - was a concept for applying colour onto white monolithic form by refraction through a frensle lens on top of a conical form.

Box prototype

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Objects were to become building components.

Scheme 1

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Very quick briefs led to an investigation of techniques for representation.

Technical Details

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An original specification was produced that listed details of every element of fabrication.

Random Rotations Plan

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Other schematic elements were produced in tandem with objects. The random rotations plan was inspired by rotations used by Marie Price and as trajectories of random ‘rockets’.


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Not necessarily objects developed for a chosen taste, the collection of forms consists of both plaster cast ‘finished objects’ and the objects that comprise their moulds, totalling at 177 and all rigorously catalogued through technical production drawing to be used as ‘components’. Although each ‘finished’ element was produced with a deliberate preconceived form in mind from outset - derived from early found objects and chance operations - the moulding components have the opposite condition, they were constructed with little or no intended aesthetic value.

The finished objects consist of plaster with surfaces cast into sharp contrast of precise, sharp and white against seemingly distorted, decaying and colourful. The overall forms are primitive, usually truncated or stepped cones cast into either wooden moulds for the white elements, or printed paper moulds for the coloured elements. While the white element's moulds are relatively normal, the paper moulds transfer the printed pigment into the plaster; a method that was developed by chance and a technique that might be understood as digital fresco.

Transferring as it corrupts also stands along side chance as an analogy of all the things that can go wrong or not as expected in design and on site.


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‘Rocket’, a plastic cup with paint (by Eli Shillito) became the origin for all subsequent works. They were reproduced in plaster with a transfer image replacing paint. The images on reproductions were also found objects - drawings of ‘what was thought to be behind the photographers back in my baby photos’ (by Marie Price, fellow MArch student).

Rocket is understood as ‘a devise that propels into new places’.

Found Objects

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Starting off with what as learnt from chance methodology 1 (year 1), a conversation with the I Ching was conducted. As brief 1 demanded, an annotation system was produced by re-appropriating old work. Year one's methodology was then dropped. Although the MArch program was never intended as a single ‘two year experiment’, responding to the same brief twice is a rare opportunity and one not to be missed. Methodologies of chance seemed an appropriate thesis theme. However, this time, instead of through dialogue with the book, chance would be taken from a more historical context with its genesis in adapted found objects.

MArch Y2 (RIBA Part-II)- Introduction

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Portfolio cover, found & reused case using developed techniques.