Architects have often proposed radical designs to solve the world's problems, whether mediated through the structure of buildings or urban planning. Recent graduates of the Architecture Foundation have produced an array of speculative architecture that attempts to solve global problems such as environmental and economic change. This group exhibition, Futures in the Making, responds to several case studies around the world, including urban air pollution and derelict office towers in London, community-0riented agriculture, irrigation and land use patterns in the African Sahel desert.
There is much re-use and recycling of materials, such as in Adrienne Lau's vision of the use of reclaimed building materials from foreclosed properties to construct affordable community co-housing from former private homes, a subversive deconstruction. Likewise, Jack Hudspith's designs of circular, cell-like structures for an agrarian community are made from converted bioplastics derived from post-harvest nut shells. Max Hacke sees architecture as a collage, with the salvage of beloved landmarks in the community becoming part of the infrastructure of the newly-built, preserving, yet modifying the built environment.
Community plays an important part in these designs. Lulu Le Li's architecture school in urban China can sequentially create the neighbourhood around it as it moves, designs and builds year after year, laying out the structure of a city and its buildings, following the traditional Hutong building style. Satoru Nakanishi envisions "Flood Night", a celebration of annual flooding around the Ouse in Lewes, Sussex. Buildings are raised and connected with a system of bridges and piers. Lewes' traditional Bonfire night takes place as fireworks and floating lanterns reflected on the flood below.
The most radical designs were those produced to help solve environmental problems. Tall derelict office blocks can be retrofitted with Chang-Yeob Lee's "synthetechnology" to recover minerals and even generate biofuels from particulate urban air pollution, which are stored and transformed within the structure itself. Likewise, in Farah Badaruddin's "Cloud to Ground" system harnesses lightening to produce electricity on former disused rocket launch sites, resulting in both environmental recovery and a tourist spectacle.
Could these speculative designs save the future? You be the judge.
Futures in the Making runs at Architecture Foundation, 136-148 Tooley Street, SE2 2TU until 13 November 2013. Admission free.