King Street Timepiece
The King Street Timepiece is located on a 500 metre strip of a lacklustre high street in Hammersmith, London. An 'urban timepiece' is formed by individual furnishings that respond to the rhythms of the day, week and year. The moving Timepiece installations expand on the existing functions of King Street and address the issues of traffic management and street lighting and furniture.
Today, the use of cities is changing as working patterns and opening times become more flexible. The Timepiece does not seek to inhibit this trend. It seeks to demonstratively expand on it and improve the economic and social character of the street.
The scheme was borne out of an analytical site model of the same street: the 'Open Time Machine'. This analytical model represents the various opening times of facilities on King Street by using coloured lamps. It shows the dynamics of public space! The technology of the 'Open Time Machine' became a springboard for the electrical techniques used on the larger scheme model: the 'Working Model'. This 5 metre long suspended model at a scale of 1:100 became the prime means of representing the scheme. By virtue of an electrical time switch on the control panel of this model, the 'activity' of the Timepiece furnishings and their relationship to the whole streetscape can be explored by the user and viewer.
The King Street Timepiece furnishings are: the Sandwich Vitrine (a pop-out lunchtime vending installation); the Box Office (an add-on to the Lyric Theatre); the Moving Water Clock (an urban pond and street cleaner); Street Lamps and Furniture; the Sandglass Tower (a timekeeper's folly); and the Silver Screen and Projector (which form an events area that links the Town Hall and Virgin Cinema).
This years programme of work for the final year diploma students mirrored the activities of the Architecture Foundation's Roadshow which focussed on Hammersmith as the study site. This was the first of The Roadshows interactive design exercises planned to continue into 1999. We worked closely with Paul Grover of the Foundation and most of our students participated in the various public workshops which took place in Feb/Mar 1998. As tutors we set up a fairly tight design process but deliberately created freedom for individual students to develop their own design responses to identified issues.
Richards initial choice of issue was the question of TIME and how this is experienced in the contemporary city.The first model explores this theme and formed the centrepiece of the public exhibition that we mounted in Hammersmith Town Hall in June. The implication clearly seems to be that time, not space, is increasingly the primary experience of the urban condition.
The design project organically evolved into a proposal for re-engaging time positively within the urban context, by using 'Furnishings' or installations to transform Kings Street (Hammersmith's main shopping street).
The studio we run is called Fluxus, and has its origins in the work of action artists like Joseph Beuys and Yves Klein. Richard's project fully embraces this concept of architecture as event and provides not just intellectual justification for the position, but clear proposals on how such a reading might manifest itself in design terms. The final piece representing this work is a masterpiece of technical ingenuity, beautifully crafted and totally convincing as a proposition. As with all action based art, it suffers from not being experienced first hand, but the video gives an indication of the quality of the final construction with all its working elements. It is not often that we have seen external examiners laughing openly like surprised children and this reveals the other quality of this work which for us sets it apart from all our other projects this year: JOY.