Thursday, 31 January 2013

Narrative Architecture Now (NAN)

One of the curious things about what used to be called 'studio' is that it is now almost entirely devoted to the telling of stories. Tutorials are like listen with mother. Why precisely this is the case I've no real idea, but I do know is that without a convincing story, told via eloquent cartoons (but for god sake make sure they're not actual cartoons) the student is fried. And if you've got the wrong sort of story, you're fried twice. For instance today I spent the morning in studio with the third year and their 'Place for Learning'. Would I spot a single lecture theatre, or even the prospect of one? Don't be stupid. What you get is lots of stories about archaeology, mental illness, and surveillance cameras, and these are just the base camp stories, like 'The Museum of Terrorism'. I'm sure in more high fallutin' institutions, archaeology and mental illness are old hat, and they have moved on to the contents of their grandma's fridge, or the equivalent.
The ability to generate a story and hang on to it is probably an asset, even of it doesn't sound very architectural at all (in fact my curiosity is that it sounds the exact opposite of architectural) Hewing something out and hanging on to it would seem a very useful transferable skill when you feel threatened, like it would be if you were in the dock at the Old Bailey, and that could of course be exactly where we are, metaphorically speaking.
But I'm not going to get miserable about it, and yes, presently I'm enjoying the zero narrative of Walter Gropius, because my deadline is next week, so I'm presently biased. And further and meanwhile and as an afterthought,  of course I'm marking a million essays, and if they concentrated on telling the stories  they should, I'd be delighted.

1 comment:

  1. Good point- I went through Part 2 at the crossover point, so story-telling was encouraged, but had to be backed up with convincing drawings, hence my doing an extra year to catch up with a decent yarn already spun.
    Now the thing is that we're interviewing the next generation, and the ratio between story-telling and tangible architectural product is easily and quickly established and is probably the first thing that tells us if we want to hire someone...