WHAT WE DO HERE – Premiere and residency at TIME SPACE EXISTENCE during Venice Biennale 2018

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On Friday, 29 June the Venice Biennale saw the premiere screening of WHAT WE DO HERE; a documentary film about the role our modelmaking workshop plays in student and staff learning and development. In the basement of Humanities Bridgeford Street you’ll find the B.15 Modelmaking workshop which has served our architecture department since 1970.

The long-established workshop introduces students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level to modelmaking as an important design tool.

Documentary film makers Kieran Hanson and Howard Walmsley set about recording the plethora of daily happenings in the workshop environment back in September last year. The aim was to explore modelmaking pedagogy for the many students and staff at Manchester School of Architecture which frequent the workshop space. MSA is a joint school across our university and Manchester Metropolitan University giving students the benefits of both campuses.

Screening at the prestigious Venice Biennale gave the film the perfect setting. Architecture practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Simon Doody and award-winning furniture maker Hugh Miller presented before the screening which led to a constructive debate on the subject of making in design.

The film is now resident at the Time Space Existence exhibition space at the Palazzo Bembo on the famous Grand Canal. Entry is free, and it’s expected to attract many thousands of visitors across the summer up until the end of November.

The completion and promotion of this film and its associated events would not have been possible without the University’s Investing in Success scheme which backed the project. The workshop team is currently planning a number of local screenings and UK events that will feature the film in the coming year.

A huge thank you to all who have contributed to this project in time, funding and above all morale support over the past academic year that has made it all possible. We’ll be announcing additional screening events in the coming months so keep a look our for those.

If you get a chance to visit Time Space Existence in Venice, tag @b15workshop #whatwedoheremsa on social media and enjoy!

Scott & Jim

Guest Speakers announced for “WHAT WE DO HERE” Film Premiere

Following the Premiere screening of WHAT WE DO HERE taking place in Venice on June 29th we are please to announce 2 guest speakers. The premiere will take place at 15.00 followed by presentations from Simon Doody and Hugh Miller and a discussion on the subject of modelmaking making in design. The discussion will be chaired by Professor Tom Jefferies, Head of Manchester School of Architecture.

Simon Doody – Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Simon is a partner at the award winning architectural and urban design practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Simon works across a number of sectors, however his focus has been on the Higher Education sector, which he heads up for the practice.

Simon led the design of the award-winning Business School and Student Union buildings for Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently working on their high profile new Screen School. He is currently in the final stages of an engineering research hub at the University of Toronto and the early stages of a Sustainability Institute for Trinity College Dublin. His design for an exhibition building in Changsha, China was awarded the country’s first ever BREEAM Outstanding certification.

 

Modelmaking has always played an important role in design development at FCBStudios, and the relationship between the studio and workshop environment is considered integral to the design process. The practice has recently invested in new workshops across its UK studios, providing state of the art facilities accessible to all.

Find out more about Feilden Clegg Bradley and their use of modelmaking here: https://fcbstudios.com/

 

 


Hugh Miller – Hugh Miller Furniture

Hugh Miller is a designer and maker specialising in studio furniture in wood. Hugh trained as an architect prior to founding his studio, and sees his work as small pieces of architecture, where the concept is embedded in the articulation of the details.

Hugh is heavily influenced by his time researching craftsmanship in Japan as a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellow. This transformative experience led him to develop a set of design principles, inspired by Japanese making philosophy, that now underpin his studio. As well as creating his furniture collection, Hugh also designs for established brands including collaborations with Benchmark Furniture, Savoir Beds, and The IceHotel Sweden.



Hugh has lectured widely on the subject of furniture, it’s connections to architecture, and on Japanese design and applied arts philosophy. Hugh is a design tutor at Newcastle University School of Architecture, and is a visiting lecturer at Osaka Institute of Technology. His most recent talk, titled ‘Furniture is Small Architecture’, was delivered in Osaka in November 2017.
In April 2018, Hugh won a commission from the National Trust to create a piece to be added to the permanent collection at William Morris’s Red House, London. The piece will be handmade in Hugh’s studio in Liverpool, before being transported to London, where it will be (briefly) set on fire in a public ‘Burn Ceremony’.

Find out more about Hugh’s work here: http://www.hughmillerfurniture.co.uk/

WHAT WE DO HERE – TRAILER

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At long last we can reveal the trailer for our upcoming anthropology documentary film “WHAT WE DO HERE”

WHAT WE DO HERE explores how aspiring architects at Manchester School of Architecture approach various stages of modelmaking as they grapple with materials, methods and machines to ultimately reveal the ways in which the models inform their individual growth and understanding. In addition to this it examines the ways that staff integrate practical making into their requirements for student assignments and within their own research projects.

Premiere Screening and Debate June 29th

The film will premiere at in Venice at Biennale Sessions, Special programme for higher education institutions at La Biennale di Venezia’s 16th International Architecture Exhibition. The screening will take place at 15.00 at the Venice Arsenale Sale D’Armi followed by speakers and a debate on the subject of making in design. Speakers will be announced shortly.

TIME SPACE EXISTENCE June 30th – November 25th

The film will take up a 5 month residence at Palazzo Bembo as part of the TIME SPACE EXISTENCE Collateral Biennale exhibition. WWDH will be screened on repeat during all opening hours at Palazzo Bembo near the famous Rialto Bridge.

WHAT WE DO HERE to Feature at “TIME SPACE EXISTENCE” Exhibition, Venice Biennale

We are pleased to announce that following our June 29th Premiere and debate of WHAT WE DO HERE, the film will then take up a 5 month residence at Palazzo Bembo as part of the TIME SPACE EXISTENCE Collateral Biennale exhibition. WWDH will be screened on repeat during all opening hours at Palazzo Bembo between June 30th and November 25th 2018.

“The fourth edition of the biennial architecture exhibition “TIME SPACE EXISTENCE” presents a wide selection of works from architects, photographers, sculptors and universities from all over the world. In addition, projects realized in cooperation with institutions and museums. 

The participating architects and artists come from diverse cultural backgrounds and different career stages, i.e. established architects next to professionals whose works might be less known. What they have in common is their dedication to architecture in the broadest sense of their profession. The exhibition shows a vast spectrum of presentations (models, concepts, research outcomes, thoughts, dreams and ideas), placing classical architectural installations in dialogue with surprising artistic elements. 

The topic TIME SPACE EXISTENCE gives the possibility for each architect to focus on these fundamental existential questions, creating an extraordinary combination of projects and approaches. By combining projects from architecture studios with works of architecture photography and sculpture, the exhibition becomes a dialogue between current developments, ideas and thoughts in art and architecture, highlighting the philosophical concepts of Time, Space and Existence.” – http://www.palazzobembo.org/

One of the many contributions to the previous TIME SPACE EXISTENCE exhibition in 2016

PREMIERE SCREENING AND DEBATE

WWDH will premiere at the Biennale Arsenale Site on June 29th followed by a debate on the subject.

‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ documentary film project taster

‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ is a documentary film project that follows the people, practice and process of learning through making at Manchester School of Architecture.

What place is there for physical hand-crafted models in the increasingly digital realm of modern architecture? How does challenging students to look beyond the screen and ‘get their hands dirty’ inform their understanding of and relationship with the structures they are conceiving?

This film aims to explore how these young architects tackle the various stages of model-making as they grapple with materials, moulds and machines and ultimately reveal the ways in which the models, in turn, inform their individual growth and understanding.

The theme of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale; ‘Free Space’ is presented clearly through ‘WHAT WE DO HERE’ giving a unique insight into a space where the next generation of architects are free to experiment, test, fail, learn and grow in their craft and knowledge.

Project Sponsorship

We are currently seeking sponsors to support the project and participate at the Venice Biennale 2018 and welcome any interested parties who might wish to be associated with this truly global architecture exhibition.
Please contact scott.miller@manchester.ac.uk for further information about partnering with us.

Venice Biennale 2014

By now there have been hundreds of on-line reviews of the Venice Biennale which is this year focused around Architecture. The Venice Biennale is an annual event that showcases the creative arts from across the globe. Having been open since the start of June this year, the show is almost coming to its end having seen thousands of interested visitors of all backgrounds. My visit last week coincided with the 5th year study trip which basically allowed students free reign over the site and city.

My interest on the site is of course about the varied use of models. There was certainly no shortage of examples. Each international pavilion display addressed their own study of architectural fundamentals and the use of models played a regular and prominent role. As there were so many examples I will summarize my visit by including images of the examples on show and pay particular attention to contemporary methods of display which noticeably inspired many of the students I was with.

Finland – This pavilion was curated in a clear a concise way that explained the concepts in drawings, writing, models and the full size buildings on display outside of the main space. This method of display for the project was great and makes for easy understanding by any visitor. It’s probably worth taking note of this narrative when thinking about the display or presentation of your own projects.

 

 

 

The use of timber pieces accurately cut for the model (above) translated directly into the construction of the 1:1 construction (right).

 

 

Austria – Now as popular as they are amongst established architects I’ve never been a huge fan of the ‘White Model’. I’m not sure why but I suppose it feels like a stark and almost clinical representation of a form which in reality has much more texture and thought behind its finish. That said, I’ve made many of these for clients and of course pursue the whitest of white finish to meet their brief. The Austrian pavilion presented a bright white room dotted with white block models of every one of the worlds parliament buildings (above left and below). I thought it was fantastic and enticing as did so many other visitors who spent a substantial amount of time examining the many models on display. This was an interesting subject matter to study in model form due to the ‘god’ like decisions that come from each of these buildings across the globe. One of my favourite displays of the show.

Projection Models – There was a noticeable buzz around the use of projectors to animate aspects of otherwise static models from the students I was with. Whilst this is something we have looked into before there were several good examples used across the Biennale.

The Canadian pavilion made extensive use of the projection model with micro projectors mounted above white site models. Each model showed traffic flow trends and potential variants in the environment around the site. Anyone wanting to attempt a similar project should start by looking at the type of projector you want to use as they can be expensive and planning their set up in relation to the model is crucial.

 

 

 

The Italian pavilion made use of a similar projection set up but was across a master plan model showing city routes toward and around particular hubs of activity.

 

Also on display in the Italian Pavilion was a host of plaster cast models (right) each with a high level of finish and detail that guaranteed a closer inspection from anyone who walked into the room.

 

This alpine mountain range model (left) made using a CNC router worked fantastically when OS maps were projected on the the model from directly above. the contouring matched perfectly and appeared almost hologram like in front of the viewer.

Russia – In the Russian pavilion there was an interesting model on show that combined digital animation with a physical model. The basic walls and elevations of the model were built up out of plywood and overlaid on top of screens with animated environments of the proposed interior spaces (left).

 

 

 

Turkey – There was a fantastic presentation cross section model of a theatre which was finished in veneer and full lighting (below). As is usually the case with models of this size they invite you to almost get inside the building and view different perspectives as you choose. This model was one of the best in show in terms of attention to detail and finish quality.

Japan – This display reminded me of a studio workspace with samples from different stages of the design process on display all over the room. Amongst the items were plaster casts (left) and perhaps interesting for our second and third year students at the moment, 1:1 structural details such as this fantastic timber joint detail below.

 

The main ‘Fundamentals of Architecture’ display by Rem Koolhass contained a fantastic array of different design and building components split it to groups and stages of production. One of the rooms featured a wide range of concept models from spiral stair cases (right). These were produced in different materials and at varied levels of finish but all as intriguing to see as each other.

 

The Hungarian Pavilion featured a number of great drawings and subsequent sketch models (left). These were made from a variety of materials and almost 100% using traditional analogue methods – that means no laser cutting guys!

 

 

A huge part of the display in the French Pavilion looked at the tower block housing development called Cite De La Muette. The site was a modernist development that became synonymous with sadness after it was converted into a major internment camp for persecuted French Jews awaiting deportation during WW2.

The exhibition looked at the values and goals the development originally set out to achieve that were unfortunately very short lived. The center piece of the display was a white presentation model of the site with a romanticized film vision of modernist living projected behind (left).

Conceptual presentation model on display in the Costa Rican Pavilion (below)

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the design but this Korean hotel model was finished to a high standard from beech veneer and timber (below). Very nice.

One of the 3d printed models from the Moroccan Pavilion display (below). A series of site models were displayed under spotlights in a sand filled dark room. Quite a strange experience to walk around.

Interestingly, despite its increasing prominence in people’s consciousness both professional and public, the use of 3D printing was thankfully kept to an appropriate level in most cases. I was particularly glad of this as the repeated use of this method of model production can become somewhat boring!

As well as the endless exploring of exhibitions across Venice the visiting students did manage to get a tutorial or two in and a presentation session of their proposed ideas.

The show was a fantastic display and I would encourage anyone to visit and see as much of it as possible next time around. The city is, without really needing to say, a fantastic inspiration and learning experience in itself.

Scott