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Institute of Making - 'feel the realness of the model'

Part 2 Project 2010
Nic Howett
University of Greenwich, UK
Coughing and spluttering I awoke, the view over the Thames towards Canary Wharf did little to distract from the stench of resin that filled the studio. As I watched the ships sail past below I picked at the glue covering my fingers, freeing them for another day of making, if Wyllie was still alive, the smell of paint not resin that would fill the air, he would have been enthralled up here above the Thames.

I was only at the beginning of my time at the Institute of Making, a new head and the prospect of a new school of architecture meant my time on the banks of the Thames were ending. The institute was relocating, downriver on the banks of the Medway. All that was there was rumoured to be a 16th century fort, it’s bricks strewn across the site. Bright red in colour I became obsessed with accumulating them, assimilating them, I wouldn’t rest until they were all contained in one place.

I crossed the walkway to the tower rising above the trees. Met by the seemingly pleasant BOB organising the bricks within the tower, I descended to the banks of the Medway. A new site, a new head, meant a new ethos, students were busily creating their own studios, only a working dry dock given to them as their place to make.

I sat on the end of the jetty, reminiscing over a chance meeting with Zumthor, regretting not to disclosing to him the architectural graffiti I left upon his Kolumba Museum whilst in Cologne. I looked back across the dry docks smoke, fire, noise, burning, sparks flying, happy to be in a world of making.

Nic Howett

Gateway Games has been the Atelier 11’s context for the last six years, playing up and down the Thames Gateway from Hackney and Greenwich to the Medway, thinking and making. The projects have moved from the urban through the suburban to the rural underlying defending against Vikings, Dutch, French and Germans, the buildings and their bricks, timber, concrete and steel have been manufactured then moved and recycled and a psycho-geographic questioning has followed. a changing context emerges Nic Howett’s project for a new school of architecture, an institute of making, on the Thames at Greenwich on the Medway, emerged from a Zumthorian obsession with materials and atmosphere. He was inspired by: meeting the man and his cigars; an exhibition at his Kunsthaus in Bregenz. The removing of the void in the bricks at the Kolumba Gallery Project in Koln was a vital part of it. Nic is the King of the model, a visceral ‘real’ model that carries the design and representation to the building itself. He cut through the digital to find the realness of the model. The institute of making is the way the school of architecture has become a place to model and manufacture designs and buildings, the institute was at Greenwich but then found it’s home on the the edge of the land that Wylie the maritime painter had had as his home. This project is a homage and journey into the fabricating context of the Gateway where work is built, tested, analysed and built again.

Ed Frith
Mr Patrick Lewis

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