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Architect P & The Culture Factory Co.

Part 2 Project 2002
John Proctor
Irina Teodora Tulbure
University of Nottingham, UK
“ ‘Transform the world’ – all well and good. It is being transformed. But into what? Here at your feet, is one small but crucial element in that mutation.”
– Henri Lefebvre

Our western ‘neo-capitalism’ has created numerous corporate super powers, these multi-national companies, now holding the power of governments, have transformed cities: they are no longer about people but mere representations of advanced capital at work. Corporate politics is the system through which our state is now ordered; therefore I wanted to investigate if architecture could play a role in subverting this system.

The Limit of Architecture: An explicit strategy towards implicit creativity.

How do we engage in resistance? Primarily people must become aware of their condition: architecture must first imbue a more critical ontological mode. Henri Lefebvre believed in the creative autonomy that everyday life still contained. He was aware that although dominated by commodification it still intrinsically held the possibilities for imagination and practical freedom. For Lefebvre ‘moments’ of intense experience in everyday life, “vivid sensations of disgust, of shock, of delight” offered the possibility of a different daily life, one that was not controlled by the rhythms of capital. These experiences emerging through surreal ‘situations’ from the unconscious, that reservoir of resistance (after Freud), are what architecture must provoke. Architecture must not only make everyday life ‘visible’ but also reveal its intrinsic ‘daemonic power’ by transferring it to surprising contexts and placing it in unusual combinations.

However this explicit festive strategy must be combined with an emphasis on implicit creativity, in order that the differences of society (a la gender, ethnicity, age etc) can be empowered to endure. It is not a new space within the city context, rather an empowering of idiosyncratic modes of architecture.

Using our multi-cultural metropolis as a stage where contrasting scenes of everyday life can be collaged, the project aims to intensify the urban experience.

What follows is the surreal tale of Architect P and his ideas for a building on Brick Lane.

1. Circumstance 1.1. Truman’s Brewery, citing economic reasons, vacates its Brick Lane home after 200 hundred years of residency. Leaving over eighteen buildings covering over 40,000 sqm the site is ideally poised to perpetuate the regeneration of Spitalfields. 1.2. Local politicians secure the site and debate about what to do. Time passes. 1.3. On the one-side developers are clamouring to gain favour, on the other, community members protest for a more social development of the site. 1.4. The politicians debate. Time passes. 1.5. Finally, an architectural competition is commenced; winner takes all. 1.6. Architect P, having formed local connections, is asked to take part by the community. 1.7. Architect P agrees. 1.8. Preposterously Architect P proposes a city. 1.9. Architect P wins… The community celebrates.

2. Culture 2.1. The winning proposal is a microcosm of the generic city: The Culture Factory Co. 2.2. The basic premise of the Culture Factory Co. is the provision to make culture (if it is possible to do such a thing) 2.3. UNESCO, (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation), stated that “the notion of culture is generally taken in its broadest sense, as covering all the distinctive spiritual and material, intellectual and emotional features characterising a society or social group.” 2.4. Ultimately then, if we take the seemingly logical step and mix societies and/or social groups together one might therefore extrapolate that a ‘new’ culture might evolve….

In an attempt to embellish societies’ differences Architect P first performs a rigorous programmatic exercise; the spice factory, the athletics club, the art gallery, the asylum hotel, the allotment, the office, the urban farm are all brought together in one hedonistic mix. The stage is thus set for conflicting lifestyles to unfold…

John Proctor
Irina Teodora Tulbure

Inspired by the political ideals of E. F. Schumacher and Ivan Illich, this project takes an oppositional stand against the expansion of big-business around the Spitalfields Market site. Beginning with a study of the multi-cultural community centred on Brick Lane, the intention was to develop a more constructive and sustainable relationship between the residential and the business interests. The redundant Truman’s Brewery site provided the opportunity to develop a kind of ‘fortified city’ in miniature, creating a whole eco-system for providing spices to service the shops and restaurants of Brick Lane.

Powered by a combination of solar energy and the banks of treadmills and rowing machines of a health club and fitness centre, the hydroponic spice growing gradually takes over all external surfaces producing a giant 3-D garden in the middle of the city. At the smaller scale a desk-top seed-tray allows even stressed executives to play a small part in the ‘farming’ process, while on the larger scale the site engages the whole community, providing a series of spaces for the celebration of cultural festivals.

From the strategic level to the detail design, describing the harvesting and processing of the different spices, there is an impressive depth of research and analysis and a great sense of political purpose behind the project.

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