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Conversion of Venturi s Mothers House

Part 1 Project 1998
Robin Blanchard
University of Greenwich | UK

Robin Blanchard

Robin Blanchard made a series of challenging and very ambitious projects during his third year, forging his own direction within what we as tutors were seeking to investigate.

All his projects became vehicles for thorough investigation throughout the project, a level of mature thinking unusual in a student at this level. Each of his images, which involved drawing, photography, painting and video, was an
investigation in itself, connected to and enlarging the themes explored in the project as a whole. Most of these drawings were double AO and rendered in astonishing detail. In many respects, each is a work of art - an impression unfortunately diluted by the 35mm slide presentation format. Throughout all his projects, the standard of thinking, design skills employed and impact of presentation was consistently excellent. The scale and sheer number of drawings produced in a single year demonstrates the magnitude of Robin's achievement.

Within the post-ironic, kitchen sink drama aesthetic Robin employed a series of deft and subtle architectural touches, such as placing the entrance to Venturi's Mother's House in the side elevation to make it seem like the entrance to a
basement bar in his conversion of the house into a Country and Western museum.

The aesthetic of ironic banality was further developed in a project for the re-launch of Ariel washing powder. Under the slogan "Ariel Makes the Working Classes Cleaner", the project constituted a wry take on the relationship between
advertising and the urban poor. This black humour was also present in the re-launch design, which became an It's-A-Knockout course based on the drudgery of launderette life.

His final project looked at the development of a tax-free resort for religious and entertainment at a new ferry terminal in Dartford over a period of 20 years.
Based on a reading of Learning From Las Vegas, the project deals with a multitude of plots and sub-plots. The playful mix of religious and commercial iconography is a delightful take on the ambiguous relationship between religious
and commercial excess in the development in resorts like Las Vegas where finance was provided by religious groups and gangsters - often working in tandem. The project is a beautifully executed piece of research and architectural
application which benefits massively from its huge scale allowing room from its many layers and stories to reveal themselves.

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