Third Natures. London’s Typological Imagination

The second reincarnation of Third Natures at the GSD is based on three premises that will determine the content and scope of the projects that each student will develop: the possibility of constructing macaronic discourses as a response to the new modes of production of subjectivity and immaterial commodities; the revision of the typologies of London’s historic interiorized public spaces; and the possibility of constructing public space nowadays as places of physical interaction and symbolic creativity.

The way in which we produce, transmit and assimilate cultural content has undergone a radical transformation with the new access to ubiquitous computing and information technologies. Today it is impossible to distinguish between high and low culture. Any kind of cultural material is now inevitably linked with a vast network of connections with other multiple materials, in an intricate jungle of connections of which there is no longer any sense to distinguish them based on their temporal and spatial origin. Everything can be considered pop and nothing can be pop any more. The construction of subjectivity and immaterial contents that this new form of production and dissemination of culture implies, has become the centerpiece of productive activity. This new scenario and the question about the definition of our material environments require new tools, new methods and attitudes, and above all new languages. The first objective of the study is the development of new afterpop languages that will trigger new, radical and excessive forms of beauty. They shall be based on the idea of the macaronic, complex forms of utterance, mixture of different cultural materials of different and varied origin with a critical ambition.

The emergence of hot houses, gentleman clubs, banquet halls, square gardens, pleasure gardens and public houses or the Big Globe, the London Colosseum, or the Great Exhibition in London marked a new era in which typological imagination was put at the service of the public and the extravagant. These real time laboratories of sociology simply shifted location, use, size or scale of known typologies, transforming them into incubators of new forms of being together that defined the public sphere. In the time span ranging from the Georgian period to the Victorian, the insularity and the peculiarities of the Greater London produced this panoply of rare endemic species, many of them of a spectacular nature that remedied material poverty, squalor, and the miserable weather of South Anglia.

By revisiting these genuine and extravagant Londoners, the studio (named The Consortium of Fantastic Ideas) will develop a set of medium-scale interiorized public buildings, testing the relevance of programs, typologies, languages and spatial conditions to create a family of rare new species of public artefacts to be located in London. The aim of the studio is to subvert the idea of the spectacularly banal that has dominated most of the recent examples of public space by understanding and exploring the cultural and political nature of public space. Each student will project one of the wonders developing precise, accurate and delicate drawings and models.

The notion of the building as a Third Nature explores the possibility of artificially modifying our environments to form complex assemblies or ecologies in which living and inert materials, different social groups and technological objects are brought together in a state of constant interaction. Integrating strange subcultures, classical temples, natural ecologies, rituals, parties and contemporary culture into architectural proposals, the studio will redefine the notion of publicness offering a counter-model to the ever-present spaces of spectacle and consumption, being creative and at the same time critical of, while exploring alternative forms of being together.