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The Monkey Must Die: Performative Methodology in Design

Part 2 Project 2013
Michael Lane
Arts University Bournemouth, UK
Performative Methodologies

Poole Borough Council invited proposals for interventions to a vehicle depot located south of Hatch Pond, a nature reserve with an industrial history. An initial response explored performative design processes, anchored upon the daily journeys of the Council’s waste trucks. This established a basis for a deeper investigation, using performative methodologies to engage, interrupt and reveal. The methodology transmuted the initial projective response into a performance, an imaginary retelling of the Hatch Pond story divorced of context, client and brief; a deliberate abstraction of mundane elements in an attempt to expose the process of design and re-evaluate the work.

Performative Programs

The performance – including methods, materials and tools – was allowed to direct and alter the perimeters of the program, acknowledging the intrinsic psychological influences upon the architect’s decisions, rather than derogating them.

Physical Programs

Temporal detachment from context enabled explorations of forms and their connections, represented in scale-less models and drawings. The performance examined its own circumstances through reiterative processes, using resulting enactments to inform and facilitate new potentialities.

Notational Re-readings

Postcards, snapshots of the performance, extracted sense from the unfamiliar territories explored in the preceding programs. Different methods of transferring images revealed unanticipated influences from peripheral factors. The cycle of modelling and drawing was frozen by the notational system, setting new sequences in motion, extracting new snapshots and endowing the products with direction, scale and context. Potential program outcomes emerged.

Projective Dialogues

The application of the outcomes to the site initiated new interactions between each element of design, influencing and altering further outcomes.

Projective Narratives

The performance became the narrative, creating a fantastical imaginary scenario applied to the site and fixing the points from which the project’s foundations were erected. A Who, What and Where began to populate and animate the building.

Performative Projections

Abstraction and decontextualisation, focusing upon methodology in design, proposes a way of mining the psychological constructs that shape our responses to a project. It demands our honesty and appreciation of the underlying stimuli in the act of designing: the influence

Michael Lane


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