As part of the V&A/RCA MA in History of Design Publication for the class of 2019. In your hands is Almanac, which will be your handbook for the next seconds, minutes or hours you spend exploring our last fifteen months.
We understand an almanac to be a book published every year that includes information for that year, such as important days or times of the sun rising and going down. Our Almanac’s ‘information’ is a series of narratives, tracing students’ research and presenting accounts of history told through object-centred analysis. Each narrative is the product of a specific matrix of personalities, personhoods and personal interests; it is collectively the curated account of numerous trips into archives, of hours spent poring over images and artefacts, and of conversations with people who were there or have stories to share.
Almanac’s title and arrangement therefore alludes in irony to historical publications that purported to be ‘the’ authoritative source of knowledge on a subject (encyclopaedias, atlases, canonical histories) – the artificiality of which its authors sought to expose and subvert in their research. As you flick through the coming pages, you will notice that what follows are stories – some visual, some written, all rooted in critical study – that reveal ‘a’ history rather than ‘the’. What follows then is a disruption of the traditional order and neatness given to history and knowledge;
it is less a roadmap through different historical topics than an invitation to engage
in a discussion about storytelling, ‘truths’, methodologies and voices.
‘Being Part’ was a project conducted at the Design Museum Gent in 2018. The focus of the project was to critically reflect on participatory methods used in the planning of the Design Museum’s new wing. The primary goal was to generate more data points regarding participants’ opinions for the architectural brief of the future building. The presented booklet is a summary of internal and external voices collected during our stay in Gent. With our contribution, we intended to encourage further discussions about the new wing including people, internally and externally, that would otherwise not been heard in the process of creating the participatory Design Museum Gent.
This project was made possible by the support of the V&A/RCA History of Design Programme and funding was provided by the Royal College of Art.
Collaboration with Lisa Rotzinger and Iria Suárez
Find the publication here:
PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES IN BRITISH HOUSING DESIGN 1970s -1980s AND TODAY
This dissertation joins an already vibrant discussion about the challenging nature of
Participatory Design (PD) in British housing design, comparing historical and
contemporary approaches. Through an analysis of four different architectural firms’
work - that of Ralph Erskine, Walter Segal, Assemble and Karakusevic Carson
Architects - it investigates how architects and residents foster participation to engage communities in the decision-making process. This study suggests that looking into the history of PD can help us understand current practices and argues that the methods applied have become more transparent as the communities play an increasing role as driving forces for participation. In particular, it explores the
relationship between architects and residents in these processes and simultaneously illuminates the structural and fundamental levels of PD through which housing design inevitably shapes the lives of its users. It demonstrates that PD processes in architecture require a design historical revaluation because they are significantly linked to material culture. In doing so, this project highlights the correlation between design history and architectural practice as a possible platform for a reflection on the built environment. Sustainable housing design solutions emerge when it is possible to combine input from practitioners and participants.