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What year one students and John Hejduk can teach us about reality and imagination in architectural design.

Jane Anderson and Colin Priest

Experimental (re)readings

Tue 26 Nov. 15:00

This paper encapsulates a series of enquiries into the relationship between reality and imagi- nation, fact and fiction in architectural design. This exploration is made with reference to the work of architect, writer, artist and poet, John Hedjuk, and his response to what he termed the “so called real world”. (Hejduk, 1985, p.35 in Linder, 2004, p.181)

Between 2011 and 2012 OB1 LIVE (Oxford Brookes University year one architecture and in- terior architecture students) collaborated with The Story Museum, Oxford to find ways for the museum to operate in their vacant building prior to refurbishment. This sparked two parallel and reciprocal journeys as both parties investigated ways to construct imaginative space and learned to express an imagined reality. We analyse the works that resulted from this collabo- ration: two connected design projects, a book, Fabrications (2011) and an installation for the exhibition, Other Worlds (2012). We also examine a similar range of works by John Hejduk: his proposals for the Lancaster / Hanover Masques (1992) and The Collapse of Time (1987), the book, Education of an Architect (1988) and the installation constructed for Writing the city, Stockholm, 1998.

Implementing stories as a tool for design, students wrote flash-fictional stories unfolding in The Story Museum’s empty former telephone exchange. These stories imagined transforma- tions of the layered histories of the space and also became the conceptual foundations for a live project, named Fabrications. Inspired by a dictionary definition given by Hedjuk to his year one students of architecture where he drew attention to the unexpected etymological connection between the reality of building (“to fabricate”) and the invention of a lie or a story (“to fabricate”), our subsequent prototypical environments were designed for (mis)reading with the building. Adapting found objects, the Fabrications ranged from interactive shelves to hybrid chairs. The third project jumped forward to a speculative future with designs for a sto- rytelling tower.

The final phase of the project undertaken with writer and architect, Mike Halli- well, translated the corporeal architectural models of these towers into an expression of nar- rative space. Hejduk’s drawings for the Lancaster / Hanover Masques described as “apariti- ons” (Hejduk, 1992, p.13) informed the curation of an installation which sought to negate their physical presence in order to return them to their fictional state.

Our journey to traverse the slippery territory between fact and fiction is used here to explore Hejduk’s The Collapse of Time and the Lancaster / Hanover Masques where he raises the issue for the architect-writer of the inter-changeability of subject and object between buildings and occupants.

We seek to articulate the shifts between imagination and reality that the architect makes during the design process. We identify the inter-relationship between language, time and inhabitation as being key to the duality of fact and fiction in architecture. We acknowledge that the (un)reality of the condition of designing as a student of architecture brings an added complexity, bringing new insights into the relationship between fact and fiction in the process of architectural design and construction..

Jane Anderson is an architect and the Programme Lead for Undergraduate Architecture at Oxford Brookes University. She wrote “Architectural Design” (AVA Publishing, 2011) and con- tributed to “Building Clouds, Drifting Walls” by Ruth Morrow (“A Bank of Ideas”, 2003). She is on the editorial board for “Charrette” the journal of the Association of Architectural Educators.

Colin Priest is an architect and Course Leader for BA Interiors and Spatial Design at Chelsea School of Art, London. His published works include Volumes of Violence, Journal of Architec- ture April 2011 and Events: London 10+, AA Publications 2010. In 2003 he initiated Studio Columba, a design studio operating predominantly within the public realm. www.studioco- lumba.com
Jane and Colin are co-founders of the Live Projects Network, an international network con- necting academics, practitioners, students and clients engaged in live project activity. www.li- veprojectsnetwork.org

Authors in same session are:
Deborah Levy
Tania Gutiérrez Monroy

Ana Betancour, Peter Hasdell and Ylva Tegner (1998), Writing the city. An architectural
project, Stockholm: Thekla Culturförening.
Ulrich Franzen, Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Kim Shkapich. eds. (1999), Education of an architect: a point of view, the Cooper Union School of Art & Architecture 1964-1971, New York, NY: The Monacelli Press, Inc.
John Hejduk, (1987). The collapse of time and other diary constructions. London: The Architectural Association.
John Hejduk and Richard Henderson with Elizabeth Diller, Diane Lewis and Kim Shkapich, eds. (1988), Education of an architect, New York: Rizzoli International Publications Inc.
John Hejduk (1992), The Lancaster / Hanover Masque, London: Architectural Association Publications.
Mark Linder (2004), Nothing less than literal: architecture after minimalism, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

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