3rd Year Introduction

Our new year has bought a new and wider perspective on the world of architecture. Instead of focusing on individual buildings and small plots of land with ideals of wider impacts we are instead working on adapting the urban fabric itself. With this comes a wider set of parameters and in many ways allows us to break free from the constraints of modern technology, site limitations and, for many I imagine, any grasp on reality as imagination takes the better of them and they drift into the impossible.

At the beginning of the year we were asked to choose our “atelier”, the idea being that the year will be given a general brief with everyone producing the same output but with smaller groups being subscribed a certain focus both in outcomes and in site. I am in an atelier called “work/space/place” with a focus on the changing work practices and concequent urban futures brought about by changes in technology. I’ve been interested in the field generally since I read Mitchell’s City of Bits last year and was also intrigued by the area we would be concentrating on, Salford. Many will know about recent developments in Manchester’s ancient and extremely close rival and, with the arrival of MediaCity and the move of BBC North into Salford Quays it’s an every changing landscape that is changing at an incredibly rapid rate.

Both my parents work or have worked in media and for the BBC for much of their careers so, with the advent of the BBC’s arrival I wanted to observe how the integration into this new territory was being handled. Also, my mother was part of the process of moving, working in an area called “change management” for the BBC for a number of years so I had a personal interest in that area of Salford especially. It’s been a strange experience exploring Salford over this last week as I’ve been so close to it and yet never even crossed the river before. It’s also important to note the prejudice that I experience whenever I tell people where I’ve been: there is a perspective from many students that Salford is a criminal sanctuary where you will be mugged, if not immediately then definitely before you leave.

I will go into more details as to our initial findings in a future post but first I need to explain the format of these entries from now on. This will serve as a diary of what I have been working on in the last week, the readings that have particularly caught my interest and the ideas that are flying about in the group. Not everything will be noted, this won’t be my sketch pad but it will highlight the direction we’re going towards and the areas we’ve investigated.

So, with a view toward regular, twice weekly posts I will leave this brief introduction to the year with a short video, produced in an hour by Lee Goddard, Shahrol Sahlin and myself, exploring the ideas expressed in Code/Space: Software + Everyday Life by Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge. We set out with the intention of finding local spaces that were progressively more reliant on code to function: Augmented space (like a coffee shop) will offer a gateway to servers across the world and limitless imformation and data but, when wifi is disabled, will still perform its main function of serving coffee. Coded space (like a modern library) will utilise code to speed up or remove human interaction from processes with an eye on improving customer satisfaction and ease of function as a place to retrieve information. However, if the eletronic swiping systems fail there are still methods of stamping books out, checking peoples I.D. Cards manually and finding books without the aid of software. The third example is code/space (like a betting shop): without software to calculate economically viable betting odds and a central system to keep all shops in the network updated the space would simply become a place to watch horse racing. All be it with a ready supply of incredibly small pencils.



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