Review #3

At the end of the first five weeks of studio work, all MArch studios make a presentation to the rest of the MArch students of the work of their studio. This is to counter the normal tendency of work being presented and judged on an individual basis; instead work is seen as a collective effort in which the themes of the studio are discussed with all the others. For SoftPraxis this was an an opportunity to reflect on the processes and constraints encountered thus far. The presentation made the simple, but rather brilliantly obvious, point that we cannot be ‘alternative’ until we describe what the norm is. Under the banner of “We are all conformists”, the studio presented what are the tacitly accepted values of architectural practice and education. These were presented as a set of memes (definition: A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another), which were collected through a wiki site (no idea what the web address is, can anyone supply it?). Once stated, these memes become conditions to subvert or work away from. In effect this set the agenda for the studio for the next few weeks – the direction being taken out of our hands as tutors and placed more firmly in the students’ hands. The presentation is in two parts: the first here and the second here. There is also some very interesting analysis of the competition in relation to the very first self-analysis, and also the way that different groups evaluated the competition in different ways.

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