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 1/    Strategy Drawing

Drawing: Strategy Drawing (first draft)

Media: Internet + Photography sources images > Cellulose transfer of colour laser prints to lining paper > Pencil.

Blurb: Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in Britain. Yet it is still possible to go through the day with relatively little contact with other living things.

However, there are still encounters that bring delight to the day…

Waking in the morning, I am able to glimpse the canopy of streetside trees through my second floor dormer window, and occasionally see birdlife flitting between its branches. On my way out of the house, I pass the scraps bin in the kitchen and I am reminded of the meal I shared with my housemates and friends the night before. And of the need to take the compost bin out to feed the compost heap in my landlord’s garden. As I walk to university I pass through Weston Park, a tranquil oasis after the hustle and bustle of Western Bank and its crowded pavements. After entering the lift and separating myself from the world below, I take a seat at my desk and settle into my day, a view to the Peak District keeps me company as I develop my project.

2/    Social / Spatial / Material Assemblages – First Draft

Social Assemblage: Who could be involved in the project? Who ares its stakeholders, both specifically and generally? Who puts up the cash? Or provides benefits in kind? Who manages the project? And who initiated it? Who leads the design team and who are they working for?

Spatial Assemblage: What spaces to the stakeholders need to carry out their activities? How do those spaces relate to each other? What processes occur within those spaces? How do you enter and exit them? What experience to they suggest, control or allow? Who are the spaces for? Are they for people? Or for things? Do they contribute to the environmental systems? And / or allow certain social interactions?

Material Assemblage: What is the project made of? What materials are important for its creation, both in terms of physical embodiment (construction) and in operation (consumables)? What is its structure? What are its finishes? What materials exist transiently on the site? What will the people constructing the building be able to manage? And what will they need help with? Where do the materials come from and how does this relate to the social assemblage? What do they feel like? And how does this relate to the spatial assemblage?

So what does this mean for my project? Well, the material assemblage was the easiest to assemble…I know for sure that the eventual project will have a mixture of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ materials: organic things, like planting and soil, and the water that both characterises Rotterdam and falls from the sky to be harvested in closed loop systems; and hard things that form the structure and finishes, bricks and timber, etc. Even with these though, I want to look at specifics of location. Do the Dutch approach brickwork differently from us Brits? What does ‘sustainably sourced timber’ mean in the context of the Netherlands? Then there will be the intermediary elements: ‘frames’ that hold or mount energy-gathering PV or solar collectors, or glazing and polycarbonate for artificially controlled growing environments and daylighting. Polycarbonate particularly might be an interesting material to consider, due to its properties of translucency and thermal insulation, recyclability and low weight.

The spatial assemblage was harder. At this stage, all I know is that our studio is looking at the relationship between city and hinterland, which has direct correlation to the traditional view of the home and garden. Does this initial inclination mean that I am interested in housing? I don’t have a housing project in my portfolio…

The social assemblage was also difficult. And this is probably because it goes hand in hand with the spatial assemblage. At this stage, all I know is that – if my site is in Rotterdam – then it will involve some representative from the city council, who have three key departments (out of 33) tasked with responsibility for various aspects of the built environment. There will also be an architect and a design team, who will have a particular kind of relationship to both the client and user, and who may well have initiated he project. I’ve included an ‘advocate’ and ‘community champion’ to represent someone acting in the interests of the ‘user’ and others affected by the project.

Next steps? I think my next step will involve some more in-depth explorations of potential program…i.e. petting zoo / wildlife sanctuary / city farm / etc. and their associated (and potential) social and spatial assemblages. I also want to write. This piece of writing will pose my ‘research question’ for this project, which will sow the seeds for the next draft of my strategy drawing, ideally happening before christmas! (!)

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