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Mike Pelletier



Architects of Rosslyn





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EDITOR’S NOTE ave you ever wondered what the future of print will look like? Our #FutureForecast theme was inspired by this very thought. Here at DE we wanted to give our readers even more reason to opt for print by reaching beyond the glorious whiff of ink-soaked paper into the digital realm…

“Let’s create an interactive magazine,” piped-up Josh - DE’s feature editor. Unanimously in agreement (and each secretly wishing we had thought of the idea) we enlisted augmented reality pioneers i2o3d to create the very first DE app. By linking the sensorial delight of print to interactive content and augmented reality, we have been able to create something quite unique. All this talk of the future got me thinking about the ways in which we creatives are evolving to adapt to the new digital landscape. Like printed magazines, we too are becoming hybrids, daring to collaborate, cross-pollinate and acquire job titles that did not exist until we made them up - architectural futurists, bio hackers, culture hackers & movicians (that’s me!). Ten years ago I left my job as a fashion designer and set off on a quest to explore how technology might be worn on the body to convert physical movement into sound for performance (thus the title movician). This adventure led me to cross paths with scientists, inventors and mavericks, many of whom are featured in this #FutureForecast edition. So we ask you to join us on our expedition into the future - keeping your eyes peeled for new species like Australian body architect Lucy McRae, Finnish nature sculptress Riitta Ikonen, Dutch movement artist Noam Ben-Jacov, UK based curator of futurists Deborah Rey-Burns and Canadian 3D visionary Mike Pelletier (the artist who created our otherworldly cover animation). Be sure to download the free DE app and see Mike’s cover come to life via augmented reality. Look out for the four #AR symbols identifying interactive content throughout the magazine! The first is at the bottom of this page where you can watch my new art video featuring movician Hollie Miller and music by Architects of Rosslyn. Just point your device at the image below.

DI MAINSTONE | Guest Editor





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Augmented Reality by i2o3d Illustration by Mike Pelletier Sound by Architects of Rosslyn

EDITORIAL BOARD John McRae (heads up the board) Annabelle Cox Charles Rattray Di Mainstone Ivi Vasilopoulou Jo-Anne Bichard Nissrin Zaptia Ray Bradley PHOTOGRAPHY Agnese Sanvito DESIGN EXCHANGE MAGAZINE 366 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AH T: +44 (0) 20 7118 4319 FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS UK: £20.00 (2 issues) 12 months visit

SENIOR EDITOR Martin Guttridge-Hewitt FEATURE EDITORS Constance Desenfant Gabriela Venkova Julia Milet Josh Plough Joanne Shurvell Lina Viluma Phil Roberts CONTRIBUTORS Ben Harvey Felicia Montalvo Stan Portus ART DIRECTION/DESIGN LAYOUT Isabel Campa Lee Martin VEER Design Studio


© 2016 COPYRIGHT Design Exchange magazine claims no responsibility for the opinions of its writers and contributors contained within this magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without prior permission is strictly forbidden. Every care has been taken when compiling Design Exchange to ensure that all the content is correct at the time of printing. Design Exchange assumes no responsibility for any effects from errors or omissions.





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CONTENT features


018 features


022 14


028 048




064 BRINGING WORLDS TOGETHER The Culture Capital Exchange

066 WHERE CULTURE AND SCIENCE MEET European City of Science

060 DEBORAH REY-BURNS AND PROPELA Future’s Finest Talent Agency







130 052




124 ANALYSING SOCIETY THROUGH PORTRAITS Ritums Ivanovs 130 WORK IN PROGRESS Assemble 142 ARCHITECTS WITHOUT ARCHITECTURE Independent practices are operating outside of traditional models 148 DESIGNING FOR CHANGE Ideas for a better world




future forecasters

156 ARCHITECTS OF ROSSLYN Music and Soundscapes 157 LUCY MCRAE Body Architect 158 AMANDA MCDONALD CROWLEY Cultural Worker and Curator 159 LIZZIE BALLANTYNE Book Design 160 MARSHMALLOW LASER FEAST Interactive, Real-Time, Magical Experiences

Dornbracht Culturing Life Finishes


MO D. 548



U K D i s t r i b u t o r : A t r i u m Lt d - Te l . 0 2 0 76 8 1 9 93 3 - f l o s @ a t r i u m . l t d .u k

Mob: +4478 38142008 Tel: +90212 526 00 52



Speaking to Design Exchange’s cover animator, Mike Pelletier


or this issue of Design Exchange we decided to do things a little differently. Call us innovative, or just plain eccentric. Either way, we hope you like the results.

None of which would have been possible without Mike Pelletier. A professional animator based in the Dutch creative capital, Amsterdam, a background in media arts and technology - both at degree level in Calgary, and at world renowned research and creative institute, the Banff Centre - should give some idea as to exactly where his specialisms lie. Combining computer engineering, art, design, and at least some degree of experimentation, amongst his recent projects is a stunning short entitled Parametric Expression. Set to a simple yet emotive, not to mention futuristic and minimalist soundtrack,



the clip focuses on two humanoid figures, which expand, morph and distort into a myriad of forms, with an emphasis placed on facial movements and reactions. Startling, compelling, and astonishingly natural, it’s at once terrifying and serene. We were so impressed we asked him to adapt the work into an augmented reality cover animation. He kindly agreed, and this is what he has to say about the final results. “The Design Exchange cover art is an adaptation of another piece of work, only this is more of a loop and more interactive. The original project stemmed from playing around with this 3D character generator software, called MakeHuman. A programme specifically designed for making characters, which has a library of pre-set expressions- happy, sad, whatever.”

Image: Our stunning augmented reality [AR] cover art by Mike Pelletier This is #AR content - once you have downloaded our app, point your device at this image

“And it’s kind of weird that there are all these pre-sets, the way that it deals with human emotions is strange really- as a set of parameters. So I was just playing with that idea in the animation, in this slow, robotic, uncanny, unsettling way of looking at emotions, expressions and feelings through data. “In the regular animated version there’s a beginning and end. In this new form you have the freedom to move things about a little more. I mean that’s still a limited freedom, so you have to consider it in a different way. And you have to take into account the technical limitations of making it run properly through a phone. “I tend to render things with a very high quality render, which takes around five minutes per frame. In this context I need to push out

30-60 frames per second to make it look nice. So faking textures onto the model, instead of using real time lighting, and simplifying it all a little to suit the new purpose. “I think AR and virtual reality [VR] feel like they are still building up in terms of potential. When I started at the Banff Centre in 2001 they had done loads of VR research in the 90s, but then all the hardware was gathering dust. There had been this big hype, but it wasn’t really ready, so it disappeared. Now things seem different, as actual consumers have access to this technology, rather than just research companies, so there are a lot more people involved and taking an interest on different levels.”





Speaking to Design Exchange’s App creators i2o3d When we decided to brave the brave world of Augmented Reality for this issue’s cover art everything hinged on drafting in the right talent. It’s safe to say we found just that. Here’s what John Ladbrook, Technical Director at i2o3d has to say.


rom catalogue models de-robing under the cold, harsh light of a smartphone screen, to instruction manuals that spring to life through the lens of a mobile camera, the ability to present ideas and information has never conjured more excitement. So strong is the temptation, in fact, that Design Exchange simply had to have a tinker. The result being our first augmented reality (AR) cover. The handiwork of two autonomous parties - Canadian animation expert Mike Pelletier, who is interviewed on page 16, and UK AR, VR and 3D specialists i2o3d - we are thoroughly delighted with the outcome. With this in mind it seemed only fair to open up the floor and listen to some thoughts on the rapidly developing AR market, direct from the brains we drafted in. Without further ado, then, we posed a few questions to John Ladbrook, of i2o3d. This is what he had to say on everything from augmented future to the joys of working with journalists. Tell us a little about i2o3d “Well, we started the company about five years ago, and mainly concentrate on developing high-end augmented and virtual experiences for some quite large brands- McLaren, Christies, Infiniti Cars. We concentrate on clients with a real need for very large data sets to be represented in either AR or VR. Where they are looking for a very high level of output.” And how much experience do you have with editorial? “We’ve not really worked on this side of things before, other than as a conduit for other film projects.”



What other projects have you worked on? “We’ve done quite a bit with McLaren, and in many of these models we’ve tried to highlight features people would find the most useful. So the P1 was all about showcasing how close the model was to a race car. The airflow and things like that.” “Augmented Reality is this mix of virtual and real world, whether that’s showing the airflow on a car or how the vehicle can explode - not in a fiery ball, but break into different components that can be explored further. Basically providing an experience that users can’t get from a web page.”

“Augmented Reality is this mix of virtual and real world, whether that’s showing the airflow on a car or how the vehicle can explode - not in a fiery ball, but break into different components that can be explored further. Basically providing an experience that users can’t get from a web page.”

“Pokemon Go is a prime example. The fact people have these devices on them all the time provides a facility for people to have these new experiences. Wearables, such as the HoloLens, are very much helping us towards this idea of mixed realities. This also offers an experience that is very unique in terms of communication. It’s a realism that is not possible just with 3D environments. I also think it’s more compelling.” So you’re predicting a bright future? “Well, VR is actually widening the market for AR, they are not really in competition. People are finding they want the experience of this mixed environment though. Given everyone has a mobile, and these mobiles are getting more powerful with every update, this gives a platform and mechanism for increasingly strong content. Image: AR in motion, i2o3d reveal under the hood qualities of Infiniti products with technology

What’s the most challenging thing about realising an AR idea? “We often work with clients that have very large data sets anyway. The thing with mobile phones is that they are really still very limited. So we have to heavily prepare that data in order for it to look right whilst running on a comparatively small device, like a phone.” It seems like AR is still, to some degree, in a stage of infancy compared with VR, which has been experimented with for decades? “It has actually been around for a very long time. We’ve been involved for five years but are definitely now seeing an increase in the use of the technology.

“A lot of our clients are now printing out full-sized markers so people can see the cars in situ, to full scale, for example. This provides users with an understanding they wouldn’t really get any other way. The brain has an innate understanding as to what is visual, and putting it in context with further understanding as oppose to locking it off in a virtual environment. We definitely see AR as the future for decision makers, and people who need to see complex data sets in real world environments. That has usually been done with 3D renders, which can work well, but they don’t fully communicate what you would actually be seeing if something were in the room, as it were.”



Raimond de Hullu





Image: Dare to dream, OAS1S asks us what a future might be like with truly green cities





Image: A residential proposal within the OAS1S project


ith urban sprawls becoming increasingly gargantuan, the demand for construction materials ever - more hazardous to the environment, and our appetite for space approaching insatiable levels, perhaps it’s time we all had a rethink. Impassioned Dutch designer and architect Raimond de Hullu, MSc, has done just that. His project, OAS1S, invites us to imagine the unthinkable - ‘what if buildings were trees, and cities forests?’- by introducing the world to a new building typology, supposedly the first in modern history to be 100% ‘green’. Skyscrapers and mid - rises become thin stacks of living and working spaces, enveloped in foliage, built with a focus on self sufficiency, essentially allowing nature to reclaim densely populated areas without displacing current residents or making future human expansion impossible. Still in its concept phase, despite sounding DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


like a pipe dream the practical implementation of this proposal is actually much more achievable than sceptics would imagine. Materials such as recycled wood, organic HQ insulation, green walls and triple glazing would be incorporated, each helping to ensure little to no footprint will be left by any of the structures. Utilities are all off-grid and from sustainable sources. Affordability is another major factor. Prohibitive costs often associated with green design and architecture are avoided in the OAS1S example, with split ownership separating homes from the land they sit on reducing the price tag. Hence this grand plan deserving some closer inspection. Not least as there are currently multiple pilot projects being developed in multiple parts of the world. Take a look.



This page: Bird’s eye view of OAS1S, with plenty of places to nest Right page: If Carlsberg made tree houses‌





Studio Integrate founder Mehran Gharleghi looks towards Iran’s architectural past and natural sciences, creating buildings and designs that combine the two. WORDS STAN PORTUS



Image: Brujerdi-ha-House, a courtyard house located in the deserts of Iran, uses a highly effective mode of passive ventilation and intricate cooling and lighting systems. Boroujerdi can be an invaluable source of knowledge for contemporary passive sustainable design. The image shows the complex wind catcher on the roof that also acts as skylight.



Image: Flux table fuses multi-dimensional arches in the leg to a strictly angular pattern at its top. It uses familiar design elements found in history to create a novel form- both recognisable and yet somehow foreign and new.

Above: Adaptine Pneus proposal can be used as a smart and quickly deployable tent in order to improve temporary living condition for refugees.




he Flux table’s legs protrude from different points, at seemingly conflicting angles, morphing into what seem like upturned tree stumps. It appears as an organic, expressive form. But with London-based practice Studio Integrate, and co-founder Mehran Gharleghi, things are rarely as they first appear. The top of the table’s base, on which the glass surface sits, is formed from a pattern found in Iranian architecture, here copied and adapted. The leg positioning descends from this mosaic, whilst the angles afford greater stability. Having studied together at the Architectural Association (AA), Mehran Gharleghi and Amin Sadeghy founded the firm in 2011. Sadeghy has since left, but Gharleghi continues to run the practice, choosing who he works with from a talent pool of varied skillsets. Before enrolling in the AA, Gharleghi studied at the Tehran University of Science and Technology. Here he learnt about the work and research conducted at the institute concerning the possibilities offered by biology, biomimicry and form-finding, specifically that of Michael Hensel and Michael Weinstock, who would later become Gharleghi’s tutors and then collaborators. Having been involved in architecture since the age of 19, this theoretical approach appealed as he already understood the processes of designing and building within architectural practice. One example of how nature can inform, or create solutions for design problems, can be seen in Gharleghi’s Adaptive Pneus tent. The structure consists of a frame which is covered in inflatable panels. Made of two layers, the panels respond to environmental stimuli. For instance, if they are exposed to direct sunlight the air inside expands leading to a pressure difference. This then activates a valve and the air travels from bottom to top. As the pockets of air in the latter fill they reduce in length, shortening the layer and making the whole panel curve, lifting away from the frame. This allows air flow into the structure, ventilating the inside. Gharleghi explains the panels “work like the collective intelligence of nature. So in nature, instead of having the centralised, mechanised activation, you have very small fractional moves that, out of their local interaction, complex behaviours emerge”. He also believes they have potential for real life application. “This is an amazing solution for refugee tents, helping the air flow inside.” Beyond humanitarian crises, this concept of a self-ventilating structure could be used to create larger structures. As the mechanism works in response to environmental stimuli, it requires no extra energy. By scaling the model up, you could create a building that was ventilated without using air-conditioning units. This means no need for electricity- an achievement that would have significant environmental benefits. In addressing environmental concern, Gharleghi also turns to architectural history. By looking at case studies that account for their regional environment and function without electricity, he believes some models offer workable approaches to sustainability. Understandably, given his background, close attention is paid to buildings from Iranian history that operate in this way. One example is Borujerdi-Ha-House. Built in 1857, according to Gharleghi the design means when the outside temperature is 36C, it’s only 24 inside. DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Image: Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) Analysis of Brujerdi-ha-House. The analysis shows the way wind travels inside the building.This passes over the pond in the courtyard, lowering temperatures and gaining humidity. Passing through the living area, it escapes through a wind catcher in the roof- see the first picture.”

“That’s the power of architecture,” Gharleghi says.

Gharleghi approaches geometry in a similar sense.

Fundamentally then, Gharleghi is extracting the practical possibilities from the past and modifying them for his own ideas and ideologies. This can be seen in a villa designed by Studio Integrate on a Croatian island. The building itself is constructed like a sponge, with its walls peppered by holes. Unlike shutters, which, when closed, block the sun and therefore also airflow and views, these holes mean you prevent light getting in, without impacting on airflow or the view over exquisite surroundings. The size, orientation and depth of the openings are generated through a genetic algorithm to find the optimum balance of comfort and views to nature.

“Geometries are normally created in the beginning to solve a problem. You need a certain level of tessellation or transformation to be able to turn a rectangular base into a circular base, so that it can create a dome”.

The building also manages cooling by borrowing from the design of classic Persian gardens, where pools of water were used to cool the air. As wind runs over the pool it cools through evaporation. The Villa employs this idea to the same effect, with the cool air entering the building through the sponge-like façade. By taking ideas present in both the gardens and Borujerdi-Ha-House, and combining them with modern practice, Gharleghi aims to push culture forward. In one sense the culture of design and architecture, but in another culture at large: by creating new forms of architecture that are responsive to environmental concerns, and that allow you to alter the lived-in environment, boosting quality of life.



This in turn means you can treat historical examples of geometry as mechanisms to resolve problems in contemporary design practice, or use them for more sculptural, artistic work, such as the GeMo vase series. Gharleghi created over 500 possible vases from different tessellations of two Islamic drawings. The forms they created were then 3D-printed and painted. A section of the possible tessellations were impractical, as they led to structures that could not stand due to their narrow bases or top-heavy forms. The GeMo vases are an example of where our subject may appear as a polymath; these designs do not just embody his interest in history, but also the potential for design he sees in genetics and code. The series name is short for Genetically Modified Islamic Knot. Gharleghi sees the repetition of the drawings as a series of genes. Made up of simple parts, through repetition and different combinations, the vases create enormous possibilities for a multitude of structures, using the same base code. More recently he has used this method of design to create the RIO Collection of seating in collaboration with Morgan Furniture. Like GeMo, the chairs are 3D-printed, allowing each to be subtly

Image: A house in the Mediterranean, which uses the same passive principles of ventilation as the Brujerdi-ha-House, utilising both aesthetic and environmental features



different from the others, meaning they are all unique. Despite differences, all the chairs have a bone-like structure forming the backrest, offering comfortable flexibility whilst also strengthening. The Rio Collection and GeMo vases clearly reveal Gharleghi’s interest in DNA and genetic codes within the context of objects. Beyond furniture and the ornamental, he believes this method of working could be used to create code sequences for large, complex structures - such as domes - which could then be copied and replicated in different designs. One language can lead to an almost infinite number of forms. “The whole speciation in nature happens because the language remains the same, but the length of it, the order of it, creates all these different variations . . . If our language of design is the same we are able to easily talk to one another,” Gharlegi believes. Designer could speak to architect; architect to engineer, and so on. But the designer or architect could also communicate with doctors and prosthetic developers, creating a much wider scope for collaboration and possibility. “If their method, their design language, is the same, embedding all this information, putting it together, is a piece of cake”. A futuristic vision, Gharleghi insists it is achievable, and exhibited the concept in DNAted. Working alongside Makerversity and :Cultural



Above: A close-up view of the 3D printed Rio Chair. Rio 3D printed collection is a collaboration between Studio Integrate and Morgan Furniture, aimed to use the advantages of this relatively new technique within mainstream design.

“It replicates a biological principle in a highly geometrical artifact. Creating something that doesn’t look like a natural form but uses exactly the same process of design found in nature”

Above: Mehran Gharlegi, standing next to DNAted, the central sculpture for the Arts and Humanity Festival 2015, in collaboration with Brian Sutton, professor of molecular biophysics at King’s College. Photo ©Agnese Sanvito Below: Showing 500 individually unique variations of the GeMo Collection. GeMo vases were created using the same principles as complex Islamic art patterns

Institute at King’s College for the 2015 Arts & Humanities Festival in London, the project created a sculptural form using the language of DNA, where the combination of bases had different effects and structures, just as the different combinations of bases in DNA lead to different protein structures. “It replicates a biological principle in a highly geometrical artifact. Creating something that doesn’t look like a natural form, but uses exactly the same process of design found in nature.” The application of this idea remains a concept for buildings, as they embody many complexities such as electricals and piping, but Gharleghi says it is practical for town and city planning, and the shells of structures and objects. He wanted to create a series of chairs for DNAted, but explained he was advised against the idea, despite it being possible. “My genetic advisor said it was going to be too much for people.” Whether that’s true or not, the desire to create a language for design that can be used by many reflects Gharleghi’s interest in working across cultures, and schools. It also reflects his belief that design and architecture are extensions of one another, and can learn from scientific models. He may largely turn towards his homeland for historical precedents, but the symbiosis of history and the scientific reveals an ideology shared by other contemporary Iranian architects; one of a new, pluralistic outlook, creating a bold vision for the future beyond constraints of the past, limitations of certain disciplines, and cultural differences.




Image: Better Shelter supports UNHCR in a shelter assembly training programme at Karatepe transit camp, Mytilini, Lesvos, Greece. September 2015




ocussing on the most vulnerable, two billion people worldwide still live below the poverty line, and are consequently removed from the housing market due to a lack of affordable property. This crisis has exacerbated the problems and suffering already faced by victims of inequality, natural disasters and man-made tragedies. They lack the security that comes from having a home. These disparities represent a huge challenge for architects. The failure to provide proper infrastructure and the lack of low-cost, long-term models for housing are issues that urgently require solutions from architects, urban planners and local authorities. So how can architects help deliver what’s needed if traditional practice can be seen as failing those we should consider priorities? What should the role and responsibilities of the overall profession be within this context? What tools and skills does the industry have at its disposal to improve the situation? :





Above: Caracas – Torre David (01/04/12) © Daniel Schwartz & U-TT at ETH Right: Interior of a Better Shelter prototype in Kawergosk refugee camp, Erbil, Iraq



removed from the industry limelight, as most architects involved either have no interest in fame, or the media has no interest in giving them fame. But then altruists are drawn to ideas that benefit others, rather than their own careers. So this position isn’t a huge issue, aside from the way it neglects to publicise workable alternatives to the standard modern modus.

The world needs architects to involve themselves in today’s humanitarian concerns, and we would propose that post-disaster reconstruction and social architecture courses should be mandatory for all future students of the discipline. We can no longer pretend the world is a naturally nurturing place for those at the bottom of the proverbial ladder. Architects cannot solely focus on desirable design and high-value innovation. Instead, they must engage with the human and social issues that plague the planet’s population. Of course some do, but this needs to be a wholesale decision, rather than one taken only by the minority. Architects are subjected to a number of constraints - time, profitability, bureaucracy, to name but three- and these impact their freedom. But if those barriers are removed, the opportunity for imagination and ingenuity to work for some greater good suddenly presents itself. Out of the box concepts, alternative models and processes for non-profit causes arise from this position. By working in this way the architect redefines their profession, and realises their ability to produce more meaningful work. The Torre de David in Venezuela, or the portfolio of Santiago Cirugeda in Spain, illustrate new types of social and sustainable architecture emerging directly from this crisis, and raise questions over the role of architects in such situations. From an unfinished skyscraper in the centre of Caracas, on which construction was halted in 1994 due to a financial crash, an informal self-build project was born, which allowed more than 2,500 homeless and slum dwellers to find a more permanent shelter; a home. The residents created their own community and developed their own rules. Similarly, when faced with the Spanish economic crisis, Santiago Cirugeda found a way of developing subversive projects by exploiting a legal vacuum and making the most of abandoned buildings across the country. He worked with numerous other architects and collectives, many that had lost livelihoods as a result of the monetary fallout. Together, they designed and built functional, cheap and recyclable structures that demonstrate how the architect’s profession can be re-thought to put people before profit. Over recent decades, these spontaneous initiatives offering temporary solutions through the occupation of derelict places have emerged as collectives. Organisations and individuals began to work with the public to conceive answers that offer greater longevity. The result being a new wave of humanitarian design, far

That said, some world renowned architects have used established reputations and widespread recognition to raise awareness for humanitarian causes. Frank Gehry worked on replacement housing for those made homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Shigeru Ban applied his extensive knowledge of recyclable materials (especially paper and cardboard) to construct high-quality, low-cost shelters for victims of disasters in several countries. On a larger scale, Scandinavian furniture giant IKEA recently unveiled flat-pack temporary shelters for Iraq and Ethiopia. With a lifespan of three years, the Better Shelter will be supplied to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Engineers also play their part in developing new technologies to support humanitarian design. Nicolas Garcia Mayor, a young industrial engineer from Argentina, developed CMax a few years ago, an emergency shelter system that provides immediate housing assistance for homeless people. It combines a tent and trailers and includes housing shelter, sanitary units and survival kits. This ingenious product can be deployed in eleven minutes, requires just two people to erect, and was presented to the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, where it was very well received. But one question remains: are these actions enough? The average stay in a climatic or political refugee camp is now 17 long years, so we must ask if it’s possible to spend almost an entire generation living in such shelters. “These are the cities of tomorrow,” says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world’s leading authorities on humanitarian aid. A statement that should be taken seriously by everyone from politicians to urban planners. Alejandro Aravena, director of the Venice Biennale 2016, said in an interview that refugee tents are a waste of money and is convinced we should look for long-term solutions, like low-cost partial dwellings that residents can complete themselves. For him, architects should contribute to the global housing issue through design proposing professional quality rather than professional charity. He has a point: nobody should overlook the quality and durability of a dwelling, especially when facing a shortage of resources and housing on the global scale of today. Numerous architectural initiatives have now arisen in direct response to humanitarian and social issues. Architects, engineers, collectives, industrials- all have the right skills and are involved, but a coherent, comprehensive authority still seems to be missing. So far, there are not enough educational platforms to encourage the democratisation of a humanitarian branch of architecture, or design. Too many professionals are trained to work for profit. Others tend to forget the difference between architecture and art lies only DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Top: Dakar Health Center project © LabAut Left: Dakar Health Center project Site Picture © La Chaine de l’Espoir Bottom Right Dakar Health Center project © La Chaine de l’Espoir & Pascal Deloche

“Out of the box concepts, alternative models and processes for non-profit causes arise from this position. By working in this way the architect redefines their profession, and realises their ability to produce more meaningful work.”

in the fact architects are supposed to design spaces for people, not mere aesthetics. The richest and most meaningful projects are those that have a real effect on a community, that enhance a living environment and take into account the context and human impact in their design and process. We need innovative tools to stand a chance of successfully responding to natural and man-made disasters, hybrid modes of design and collaborative processes that allow us to adapt to new issues and challenges. A way of practicing architecture closer to human beings seems critical today, in order to resolve inequalities of living conditions and infrastructure. Surely the architect’s profession is to reinvent and re-imagine in line with the needs of both planet and people? Perhaps not the most conventional way to practice at first glance, nevertheless, you could argue this is where the most interesting work in the field is now taking place. We met with Justine Girard, a French architect working for the NGO La Chaîne de l’Espoir, developing infrastructure in Africa, including a healthcare centre in Senegal. Her vision of the practice is eye-opening, and shows how alternatives are achievable. DESIGN EXCHANGE: Tell us about yourself and your background? How did you come to work for an NGO? JUSTINE GIRARD: I started to be interested in architecture towards the end of high school, when our philosophy teacher took us to Mali where we stayed in Somankidi, a little village in the Kayes region. It was a real eye-opener for me, and from that point I have tried to find a path that could bring together architecture and humanitarian work. After one year studying in Brazil, between 2011 and 2012, I decided to write my research thesis on the self-construction techniques of favelas, which brought me closer to the social and human





C La

Above: Dakar Health Center Interior view of the project © LabAut

aspects of architecture. Back in France, I applied to work for La Chaîne de l’Espoir in 2013, and at that time was looking at creating a new sector specialising in sanitary infrastructure implementation. The NGO was recruiting skilled people to deal with on-site projects in developing countries, and after my graduation in 2014 I’ve been working on these projects full-time. DE: What are you currently involved with? JG: For the last three years we have been working on a cardio-paediatric centre within Fann Hospital in Dakar, Senegal. This will be the first centre of its type in the region and we hope it meets the needs of the local population, as well those in neighbouring areas. Thanks to private funding, following a feasibility study the centre is now in construction. It’s a very satisfying achievement for the team, which mainly comprises doctors, architects and volunteers in charge of financial and legal aspects. The work of La Chaîne de l’Espoir is not limited to architecture and implementation monitoring alone, though. There is also a lot of work done on project programming and training of the future hospital staff. That’s exactly the aspect of the work that attracts me- dealing with daily issues relating to the project, where architecture sits in the background, acting as a link between human and social chains. We are also involved in other projects in Africa and worldwide. We are working as consultants on the implementation of a mother and child hospital at Abidjan, in Ivory Coast, for example, and also assisting volunteer architects on a children’s house scheme in Kabul, Afghanistan. DE: How is the practice of architecture in developing countries different from those in Western Europe? JG: It’s very peculiar because a lot of things are different, yet, at the same time, the processes can be very similar. For the hospital in Dakar, a local architectural practice had been selected in order to carry out studies and to monitor the construction site. We are in constant collaboration with them. This local practice is a major asset for us in order to create a functional project, adapted to the local context and population’s need. It is a key element in the organisation, which helps us deal with the main local constraints and on-site realities.




of the lack of treatment or because of weaknesses in the system? Some of the doctors have more than 2,000 children on waiting lists. I think that’s more than enough for us to integrate emergency within our everyday practice. DE: Do you think we need more educational institutions that focus on humanitarian architecture? For instance, in Senegal, when a child is taken to hospital for surgery, all his relatives- in the broader sense; neighbours, cousinscome to visit, which causes a massive flow of visitors that we have to consider during the design process in order to welcome them into the best possible conditions, without disturbing healthcare logistics. We also have to constantly keep in mind the constraints created by the climate. Whether it is the wet season [July-September] or dry season, we have to take into account any arising issues in the design process. In the same way, we often have to work with poor quality public services, such as electrical systems or water distribution. DE: How are the human relationships on these projects different from standard schemes? J: Human relationships in humanitarian projects or NGOs are very similar to those existing in a normal firm. I mean, most people try to keep a very professional attitude even in challenging environments or tough moments, due to what humanitarian projects bring about. Nevertheless, we cannot forget the human dimension which puts a constant pressure on our work. It’s not just about reaching the deadline and then stopping, but also human beings whose lives can be changed by us. We need to be available, and be able to react quickly in event of unexpected opportunities or emergencies. Humanitarian aid is a practice that is becoming more professional, and as it gets more popular, new skills and positions appear. That’s a very good thing. DE: What are your plans for the future? J: I would like to see more projects arising and more collaboration between NGOs and institutions. There is no useless action, but the more people involved the better. Working on projects that try to get local populations on-side is something that interests me. From a personal point of view, I would like to join an organisation focussed on construction, integrating community volunteering projects or participative projects within those actions. After working for an NGO, mainly in the medical sector, I now feel attracted to practices linked with the reconstruction of houses or educational buildings. DE: Have you ever faced a natural disaster, epidemic or other emergency that transformed your work? J: Not yet. We were quite concerned by the Ebola epidemic- one case affected the Fann hospital but Senegal reacted quickly and we’ve been spared. Even so, I consider that we are always in an emergency situation. We have been working to improve the healthcare centre for three years, but in the meantime, how many children have died because

J: Well, a few educational platforms are appearing, but this is a relatively new step in the humanitarian aid sector and underdeveloped so far. The thing is, in my experience, most of the learning process occurs on site and from the experience of others- which educational platforms cannot teach. But I also think education at university level is not orientated toward the realities of construction. We are not that well prepared in terms of technical or engineering aspects of a project. There is also a big lack of openness. We are inundated with architectural news and updates from Europe, the United States and Northern Hemisphere in general, but barely hear about the African continent or vernacular architecture.

“We are not that well prepared in terms of technical or engineering aspects of a project. There is also a big lack of openness.” I think architecture is a complex discipline, involving a wide range of sectors- from social history to world heritage, from emergency to sustainability. Students must be open to all of these fields when studying architecture and eventually move towards one specific topic in which they can specialise. Unfortunately, emergency and reconstruction usually appear at the bottom of the list and nobody is going to push you towards these disciplines if you’re not interested in the first place. DE: Just as doctors don’t generally choose their patients, should architects be forced into specific projects when the need arises? J: Well, after working closely with doctors for a while, you realise that actually doctors do choose their patients in a way, according to their specialty and the condition of the patient, to meet their needs in the best possible way. Then, just as with architects, the choice to work in the humanitarian sector is theirs too. They sometimes opt to engage with humanitarian work on top of their regular practice whilst on vacation, and a few are directly trained in humanitarian medicine. For most, it’s a way to practice and gain experience outside their core field. For architects, we can usually find similar profiles; working humanitarian projects during vacations or specialising directly in this branch of the discipline. : DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


The client choice is another question, as for a lot of architectural practices this comes down to network and skills. Like doctors, architects sometimes need to specialise to become more successful in their market. It then becomes difficult for them to be polyvalent as they can’t respond to every type of client or project- their skills are too specific to a sector, scale, or both. DE: Should more people be using design to address global issues? J: Of course. We should take into account more seriously the fact that most people’s behaviour can be related to the place they live, and is heavily reliant on their accommodation. Architecture can be considered as the main representation of a way of life and has a strong impact on every single individual alive today. Victims of natural disasters sometimes prefer to camp on the ruins of their home rather than being moved on – that’s an important point, as it reveals the close relationship between human beings and their home. When I was in Brazil, I met some amazing people who were spending a lot of energy fixing their houses, showing a great level of ingenuity to enhance the domicile so they could be proud of their solid, stable and pleasant abode. Nowadays, architecture is one of the main issues in terms of international solidarity. It might not be considered as the first need, but plays a major part in development processes and also has a significant impact on sustainability. DE: Finally, what’s the strongest memory from your experience working in Africa so far? J: I haven’t had the opportunity to experiment with the outcome of my work, yet, but I already feel proud of how people trust me out there, especially doctors, construction workers and the architects on site. The most striking memory I have so far would probably be laying the first foundation stone for the healthcare centre. When I arrived on site, I saw the bulldozer I had studied for so long. The site was only wasteland then, and now it’s being prepared for a useful and durable structure that will take care of children in need. That’s fantastic.

Image: Dakar Health Center project © La Chaine de l’Espoir & Pascal Deloche




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hese are just two examples of PhD topics, loosely and rather haphazardly explained in lay terms by a journalist writing for a magazine, based on an interview with Dr. Becky Stewart, lecturer at Queen Mary University, London.MARTIN Her area of focus is the Media and Arts WORDS GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT Technology (MAT) programme. A somewhat ambiguous title, it offers a chance to question the boundaries of creativity by giving students a platform to fully explore all possibilities for creativity through technology. The scope is infinite, as she is quick to explain. “It’s a rather broad remit, as it’s really anything that can fall into media and art, and the technology used to either communicate, explain the form further, or create it.” is a project that spans multiple studentsmuch more of a single PhD, but is being worked on full time by a number of students from the MAT programme. It’s about building circuitry to make a new physical instrument in which the sounds themselves are being generated or manipulated by the electronics.



“At the moment, electronics will cause a delay between when you interact with the instrument, and when you hear it. The kind of delay you don’t get when playing a piano. The processing can make it feel slow, especially to the performer. “Maybe not so much to the audience, but certainly the musician knows they are not playing a ‘normal’ instrument, it feels unnatural. So this is a platform with lots of software supporting that circuitry designed to allow musicians to use whatever fancy new sensors they want and develop an interface, and it will have really low latency.” It’s an undertaking that could touch on sociology- the alternating attitudes of people towards musical performance in different contexts- and the philosophy of music itself; what it means to enjoy audio tones, and the elements required to do that. All of which is indicative of just how varied the MAT programme’s range of studies are. “Another project is looking at meta materials, which could lead to invisibility cloaks. Harry Potter cloaks. So the idea is working with materials that respond to light or electro-magnetic waves in different ways. One way to do this is have light waves around the object, so it would look like you’re looking through it but not seeing the thing itself. “This is a wider field of study at Queen Mary, but one particular student, who comes from a print background, is specifically looking at how to attach these meta materials to fabric, combining print and sewing to bring it together.”

“The MAT programme itself is not its own department or research group. So the idea is that we bring in people with lots of different backgrounds, that may or may not have much technical experience. They might come from a strong arts and design background perhaps. Obviously some do come from more technical backgrounds, though”. “But everyone is taught to pick up new technical skills, including research methods. They do a three month placement with a company outside the university, to learn what work might be like in a different environment. We have students at the BBC right now, for example. They actually do their PhD with one of the research groups that already exists in the school of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.”

Above: Vanessa Pope shows her interactive project at CruftFest, an exhibition of student projects. Left: A touch-sensitive doll that generates a sketched portrait by Sophie Skach.






oam Ben-Jacov has been developing his body sculptures for more than 30 years now, with his work focusing on and emphasising the mental and physical movement of the human body: it acts as the ‘motor’ at the centre of each object. Noam constructs and builds his work around the individual but his pieces bring the participant and viewer together as they both explore and share the same space. ... >



Image: ‘body-sculpturs,triangulos 2006 photo: © Noam Ben-Jacov



Image: ’atlas’1988, photo: © Noam Ben-Jacov Next page: Top: ‘room’ 1987 aluminum, performer: z. Frenkel, photo: © Noam Ben-Jacov Below: ‘egg’(for tamar)1997,magenffairnylon,stainless steel,performer:i. van waajen photo: © Noam Ben-Jacov



He pays a huge amount of attention to the relationship between sculpture or object and the human body, merging them both into a piece of physical theatre. Even the sound these creations make has been taken into account, allowing for a truly immersive experience which adds to the holistic adventure the works take you on. Ben-Jacov values his personal mode of self-expression and allows his work to ‘talk- to scream- preferably to sing’. And sing they do, these beautiful objects dance in space and merge creativity with the human form seamlessly and gracefully. Noam trained at the Nova Scotia University of Art and Design and the Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and for the last 30 years has been living and working in the Netherlands. He has collaborated with various dancers and shown his works at different events, such as Music Theatre Amsterdam, the opening of -X symposium Ars Ornate Europeana (2005) in Lisbon, Portugal, and at the Schmuck Museum’s Ornamenta 1 (1989), in Pforzheim, Germany.  He was also the 2015 BlauLaut Prize winner for Interdisciplinary Art, with his piece, KOÏNZI-DANCE.




“We have strived to retain the remnants of British music that remained on the site when we purchased it twenty two years ago and build on that base adding and improving with a view to reigniting music in the locale. We are committed to the recreation of a proper music quarter,�


Laurence Kirschel of Consolidated Developments.

The redevelopment of any area deemed to hold cultural significance, but lacking the pomp and pageantry of traditional historic and heritage sites, poses significant questions for both architects and society as a whole. Is the proposed new concept really legitimate and necessary? How much non-monetary value will be lost in the dust and debris that comes with the cycle of demolition and construction?



Image: Artists impression of the new public piazza between St Giles Circus and Centre Point ©Orms Architects


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Image: Orms Director John McRae appearing on UK television to discuss the project This is #AR content - once you have downloaded our app, point your device at this image

Denmark Street, in London’s St. Giles, close to Soho, is a relevant case in point. Consolidated Developments and Orms Architects are leading on a planned re-imagining of this world-famous thoroughfare and its immediate proximity, with the new Crossrail acting as catalyst for blueprints. The site itself is contained within Andrew Borde Street in the north, St Giles High Street in the east, Denmark Street itself to the south, and Charing Cross Road on the western edge. A relatively compact area compared with the city’s mega-projects, nevertheless it’s significant within the dialogue surrounding culture and its perceived value.

Image: Section showing below ground venue ©Orms Architects

#AR 54

design exchange

Image: Artists impression of the new Building on Charing Cross Road and opposite the new Crossrail station exit ŠOrms Architects


Commonly known amongst musos as Tin Pan Alley, in the 60s and subsequent decades Denmark Street was regarded as the (unofficial) home of the British music industry. Bands like the Kinks, Rolling Stones, Small Faces, and Sex Pistols recorded and performed close by, institutions like NME and Melody Maker had offices in the vicinity. Countless album contracts were signed here, innumerable guitars and instruments sold, and more acts broken on the stage at the legendary 12 Bar Club than we could ever hope to list.

the two directly opposite the new Crossrail exit will be called the Now Building, the second, smaller structure is yet to be christened. Within the former there will be a four-story Urban Gallery, housing an LED skin that can be used to project and deliver a variety of information. This should offer significant social benefits arising from having a single place where the public can interact with digital experiences and emerging brands from across the world. Live event streams, what’s on listings, signposting and sponsored content are just a few examples of what could be displayed here, so no two visits will be the same.

Times always change, though, not least when a major new transport system is being built, spanning the length of the metropole, causing significant upheaval in the process, leading to a very real requirement to alter and adapt the urban landscape once new tracks are laid. As is the case here; Tottenham Court Road is due to become an interchange between current Central and Northern Underground routes, and the Crossrail project’s addition of a new Elizabeth Line to the existing network. The required work will leave significant scars in need of careful grafting.

What sounds like a gimmick serves a far greater purpose. As part of the overall masterplan there will be two new music venues offering different capacities- from intimate spaces to the largest, currently at 800 persons, although it is hoped this will increase to 2,000. The aforementioned Urban Gallery will act as a waiting area for attendees before they get inside the largest venue, with income from air time on the skin offsetting the venues, ensuring they remain viable businesses.

So here’s the plan. Two new buildings have been proposed for the part of the site that is north of Denmark Place. The larger of

Elsewhere on the site, the original 12 Bar Club will remain in place, and largely untouched (albeit one of the new venues will



Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions Captions

Image: Impression of how the Urban Gallery will be used. Left Page: section through the former 12Bar showing the new grassroots music venue. ©Orms Architects



Image: View from the intersection of Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Tottenham Court Road. ©Orms Architects

occupy a space beneath the current address), thus acting as a historic landmark to promote the cultural value of Denmark Street/Tin Pan Alley and its surrounds. A further two smaller buildings have been proposed for Denmark Place, which will be mixed use split between retail, hotel, and restaurant/bar enterprises, breathing life into a somewhat unattractive and underused back alley; alongside the provision of a new development behind a retained facade, again on St Giles High Street. The fundamental idea being to build upon the musical heritage synonymous with the area, nodding to the developer’s track record for supporting music and smaller retailers, in turn encouraging record labels, publishers, music shops, artists and the public to return and re-invigorate what is currently only really the remnants of an industry heartland. All this calls into mind one question, though- if the scheme is so good, why has the Save Denmark Street campaign been established, suggesting those behind the overhaul are unfeeling profiteers, looking to tear down something many people treasure in the name of ‘progress’? As London’s skyline continues to stretch ever-closer to the clouds, ideas surrounding urban redevelopment and regeneration in the capital grow increasingly controversial. From the perception of foreign investors buying up large swathes of property, in turn displacing residents and destroying communities, to the ongoing pressure to make greater use of what space is available amid ongoing increases in land value, the subject is nothing if not sensitive. The resulting backlash has seen scores of protest and activist groups spring up, intent on raising awareness about the loss of place to cash hungry private interests, if not stopping the march of change altogether in some areas. But what if the unarguable trend in U.K. development- wherein people are considered after profits- has led to a temporary blindness amongst average Joes and Josephines? What if we’re now so aware of how some projects are inherently bad for society, diversity, culture, and socio-economic equality, that whenever any new project is proposed the voices of opposition are instantly convinced its impact will be negative, before all the facts have been properly checked?







We explore the weird, wonderful and groundbreaking world of the woman behind some of the planet’s most intriguing innovators WORDS MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT


hilst everyone has a different idea of what their dream career would entail, most of us can agree when a job sounds pretty damn desirable. For example if you made a living finding, promoting, exploring and assisting wildly varied artists, creatives, thinkers, and boundary pushers. Enter Deborah Rey-Burns, founder and owner of Propela. Working with everyone from TED Senior speakers to an Oxford Professor of the Senses, intrepid explorers to creative directors, we’ll let her take it from here. “I started out as a business analyst back in Australia. That brought me to Europe, and I decided I needed to get out of the game. It took me a couple of years to unshackle myself- if finance is all you know it’s hard.

Image: Deborah Rey-­Burns at Soho House, London Photo By Nathalie Théry ©Deborah Rey Burns

“Eventually I was accepted into art school in London, which led me to do product design at St. Martins. I was very pro-active in student bodies and things like that, and one of my tutors suggested I did something with clients, perhaps account management. “I tried that for a bit in branding agencies and never really found my niche. You had to be a creative or strategist or this or that. I was almost all those things, and really didn’t want to be pigeonholed. That’s where



Propela was born, and it began with business development for a couple of my tutors in design, which was kind of cool seeing them from the other side. “Then a TED Speaker asked me to represent her and now that’s the main business. Once you get known for something people come to you for that. A lot of the people I represent are the truest form of futurist, even though they probably wouldn’t call themselves that. They work with scientists, neuroscientists, NASA, biologists, to mould and speculate, and that sometimes turns into a reality. “Nelly Ben Hayoun works on these epic projects, the final output full-length documentaries, and she’s very subversive, almost getting inside the system to change it from within. So she got a whole bunch of scientists and astronauts to create an orchestra. All these different people who don’t know each other- they usually work in silos- were brought together, with original music from people like Beck and Bobby Womack. The music was then blasted into space from a site in Japan.

Top: Dr. Peter Jenniskens, Meteor showers specialist, SETI Institute and Director Nelly Ben Hayoun during disaster communication training at Disaster City, TEEX, Texas, Disaster Playground by Nelly Ben Hayoun, Photo By Nick Ballon, ©Nelly Ben Hayoun Below: Firemen during training at Disaster City Disaster Playground by Nelly Ben Hayoun, Photo By Nick Ballon, ©Nelly Ben Hayoun



“Then there’s Lucy McRae a body architect working with scientists on experiments to consider how the body might evolve in space. How a baby could be born in space. So it’s a creative art project but it could potentially have serious implications.”

“Liam Young travels to the ends of the Earth for his work. He’ll go to China to see Christmas baubles made in the middle of August, or lithium mines in Bolivia- he takes a whole bunch of people with him for a nomadic workshop, and asks ‘imagine if this was depleted’, or ‘what if this changed’. Trying to predict how the world might develop based on research in situ. He’s a speculative architect- not architecture as most know it but more in relation to systems. “It’s a world where words like designer or artist mean nothing- the guys I work with don’t see themselves as either, those are old fashioned labels and don’t apply. Instead they are speculative architects, designers of experience, body architects, food artists, or biological architects. It’s quite a hard one to explain to people, which I love- if I can’t easily describe what someone does to others then that’s the person I really want to work with.”



Left Page: A still from Lucy McRae’s Short Film Morphē for Aēsop ©Lucy McRae. Above: Photo by Pete Woodhead, liam young flies drone at Virgin Galatic Spaceport 2 ©Liam Young Right: A still from Liam Young’s 2014 film Behind The Scenes of Technology: Yiwu Christmas Decoration ©Liam Young. Below: Nomadic design studio Unknown Fields travelled to the largest salt flat on earth, home to 70% of the world’s Lithium resources, to research where our batteries come from. Here a drone captures one of the team working in the fields. ©Liam Young.

In collaboration with Design Exchange Deborah has recently launched a new talk series called The Future Of… It will feature international speakers exploring what the future will look like. To stay tuned follow the event news on twitter @_thefutureof_ or visit the website DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK




Imagination, generosity, the desire to see things from new perspectives and a modicum of freedom to be able to do so are what really matters when it comes to fostering new knowledge, know-how and creativity. As we are discovering, Residencies might just be the perfect platform for making it happen. WORDS EVELYN WILSON

Evelyn is Co-Founding Director of The Culture Capital Exchange ( TCCE arethe lead partners on Knowledge Exchange Programme at Creativeworks London ( and their new national pilot The Exchange ( was launched in early 2016. Creativeworks London Festival is an anual event that happens each year around April at King’s College London.




e are currently seeing a well-deserved spotlight shone on the benefits of bringing our universities’ research expertise together with the sectors that they can rightfully support. Uniting seemingly disparate worlds, creating the possibilities for cross-pollination and indeed helping to make things happen, brokering such relationships, if you like, is of course almost an art in itself. It is also a role that is increasingly gaining traction and value, as the full potential of our ability to develop both our knowledge and our creative economies starts to become not just clearer but arguably more urgent. We are seeing some really exciting projects taking place at the moment and unpicking the methods and means by which such collaborations are supported is an interesting challenge. Over the decade or so that I have been working in the space between our research communities and the arts, cultural and creative sectors in London primarily, there have been some particularly key and groundbreaking developments that have enabled innovative thinking and practices to emerge. In particular, the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Knowledge Exchange hubs have been crucial. Across the UK and in quite different ways, four separate hubs have been supporting the design of platforms that bring our researchers and creatives together. In 2012 we launched one such hub, a four year programme called Creativeworks London. Led by Queen Mary University of London with us, TCCE, leading the development, design and implementation of the Knowledge Exchange Programme. Since then we have supported a wide range of creative research collaborations through a series of different small-scale funding mechanisms. Two of the programmes in particular are interesting to look at, because we set them up almost to mirror each other. These were our Researcher in Residence and Creative Entrepreneur in Residence schemes.

In the first instance, a researcher would typically be hosted by a creative organisation for a period of three to six months to undertake research for and with a company with the potential to act as a game-changer within its particular practice or wider business. In the second scheme, it was almost the reverse situation. A creative practitioner would spend time embedded within an academic department to undertake research that would ordinarily not be possible due to lack of time, resources or access to specific research expertise and equipment. The demand was understandably high for both programmes and the results have been fascinating as well as hugely heartening. One of the Researcher In Residences was undertaken by Katherine Appleford from Kingston University at The Sorrell Foundation. The Director, Sorrel Hershberg, has referred to it as being like having a mini-policy department in the organisation helping to add value to the arguments made about the importance of creative education. Other residencies have been helping companies such as Spread the Word, a writers development agency, to think about how writing skills can be developed for use in interactive environments. Organisations like Furtherfield, one of the UK’s most prolific, long-standing and pioneering digital arts and culture outfits, have also hosted a residency. In that instance it looked at how existing online platforms might be further developed in response to changing behaviours around mobile technologies.

In areas such as materials, the environment and health, we are seeing the curious, the bold and the boundary-pushing. In their project ‘Fighting Flatness’, The Materials Council, in collaboration with Kingston University, are working to encourage architects, designers and others to think about new methods for materials selection in the digital age. Meanwhile at Chelsea College ofArts, a ground-breaking collaboration called PlanET is taking place between artist Kasia Molger and design researcher Cyril Shing that will enable us to stream, store and interpret readings from plant data and our environment. What is starting to become clear is that even in the relatively short space of time we’ve had to support and host knowledge residencies and creative and research collaborations, the range of outputs, ideas and potential new applications for both the academic and the creative sectors is really significant. There is surely something about that time - old notion of time itself, at play here. It is the time, I suspect, along of course with access to networks, spaces, people, ideas, possibilities, and a modest amount of financial support, that is the key ingredient. Whilst residencies have a long history as many of us will know it behoves us to be ever more imaginative, generous and innovative in fostering them for it is, I believe, in these often modest interventions, that are also relatively straight forward to curate and broker, that real innovation can and is emerging.

Again the diversity of entrepreneurs, ideas and cross-disciplinising, if we can even use that as a word, has been significant. From new approaches to wearables, fusing aesthetics and electronic engineering (Becky Stewart, Antialiaslabs with Queen Mary, University of London) to a project exploring the future of interactive play (led by artist Tine Bech and Professor Clive Holtham at Cass Business School) we are seeing some serious knowledge blending going on.




Image: A telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire photo © Bluedot Festival



t sounds like a logical move. Whenever a destination has a title bestowed upon it relating to culture, art, business, or industry, the priority should always be getting as many people involved, from as many walks of life as possible. So often, though, this is easier said than done. When Design Exchange first learnt of the European City of Science win we were slightly surprised. It’s not that Manchester hasn’t enjoyed a rich history of breaking new soil; making headlines is second nature to the citizens of Cottonopolis. Instead, it was simply because this particular honour was completely new to us.





Image: Wonder Materials objects photo © Angela Moore for Museum of Science and Industry

And that’s entirely understandable. The fundamental role of a European City of Science is to host the biennial EuroScience Open Forum. A specialised though fairly inclusive affair, we’d argue that the real responsibilities the overall title entails go well beyond this. It’s an opportunity to secure wider participation, generate renewed and fresh interest. Hence Science in the City, a festival that coincided with the Forum in July 2016, providing a public face to the professional conference. “There has always been a really strong tradition of public engagement in science in Manchester as a whole, and we’re working with partners to build on that,” explains Dr. Annie Keane, European City of Science Programme Director, when we ask about the importance of using the opportunity as a springboard with which to garner fresh interest in physics, chemistry, biology and their associated disciplines amongst young people. This question coming at a point in history when further and higher education applications for such subjects could do with something of a leg up.

“I think that the possibilities offered by science become more tangible for young people when they get inspired through creative projects that involve sciences, technology and engineering, and also when they get the chance to see scientists at work in different settings”. There has certainly been plenty to inspire and break down those barriers on offer. Famed TV-host and celeb boffin, Professor Brian Cox, is an advanced fellow specialising in particle physics at the University of Manchester. He’s also keen to get Britain as a whole talking about labs and experiments of all kinds. Fittingly, Manchester itself seems intent on following this example by combining culture, entertainment and- of course- science, delivering something truly forward thinking and, dare it be said, unique. The Robot Orchestra, spearheaded by the University of Manchester, involved the creation of an environmentally friendly ensemble of non-human aficionados. The idea being to get the public to



assist in the building of both high-tech players, their instruments and the coding that tells them what note to play and when. The Human Sensor project sent ten performers clad in air-quality responsive clothing out across the city centre at key commuter times, with results then broadcast across the world online. Jodrell Bank, one of the planet’s foremost stargazing facilities just a few miles south of the urban sprawl-proper, was the site for Bluedot, a festival concept that married major names from the pop and electronic worlds- Underworld, Jean-Michel Jarre, Caribou- with immersive and interactive experiences and exhibitions. Whether that’s exploring ‘inner space’ through the Luminarium, or dining in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, situated beneath the MK II radio telescope with views of a new installation by Brian Eno. Elsewhere, URBED are working with academic and community growers to develop a blueprint for a city allotment of the future by opening rhetoric on scientific and social concerns surrounding domestic food production. The Manchester Museum has hosted a series of exhibitions and events looking at climate change. Manchester Art Gallery’s Imitation Game explored the possibilities, prospects and potential problems that arise from technology impersonating and emulating real life organisms. The Great Science Share was a mass participation one-off wherein students exchanged knowledge with everyone from classmates to tech experts. And our own Di Mainstone, this issue’s Guest Editor, has been artist in residence during this summer of scientific creativity. It’s an extensive list that could go on.

Late-July was the focal point for activity, although the European City of Science has been in effect since last autumn, with 2016’s Manchester Science Festival in October marking the last hurrah for this 12 month calendar. Made possible thanks to partners including The Wellcome Trust, Manchester Science Partnerships, and Arts Council England, it’s more than a temporary initiative too. The accolade may move on to Toulouse for 2018, but the legacy from this could be significant. A regional project to boost science apprenticeships, funded by Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Hub on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and delivered by Cogent Skills, was launched at the start of 2016, and it’s anyone’s guess what the programme’s impact will be on a potential audience far bigger than the 2.5million inhabitants living in the immediate city region.

Top left: Robot Orchestra photo © Enna Bartlett Above: The Universe photo © Bluedot Festival Below: The Lovell radio telescope at Jodrell Bank at a distance Photo © Bluedot Festival





There are few disciplines in which questions of ownership are more relevant and contentious than science. Miracle breakthroughs, the results of decade-long research projects- these ultimately belong to the patent owner, funding body or private organisation responsible for spearheading the work.



Image: The iconic sloped roof of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute ©Hufton + Crow



Perhaps, though, there’s another possible reading. Discoveries should be shared for the benefit of everyone. It’s an idea the National Graphene Institute in Manchester calls to mind. Designed by Jestico + Whiles, the building itself forms part of the so-called science quarter within the University of Manchester’s sprawling campus, and at once provides a home for professionals working in this field, whilst also celebrating the birthplace of what is currently the world’s thinnest, most flexible and conductive man-made material.



The five-storey, 7,825m2 building is far from an average research hub. The final build takes into account industrial and technical requirements, of course. The first cleanroom is located on the lower ground floor, for example, to achieve best vibration performance, with weather-tight and thermally insulated skin ensuring complete climate control for the work within. But there’s a showmanship here too, with an angled ceiling revealing work areas and occupying scientists to the public outside on the street.

Left page: The institute in situ within the University of Manchester campus photo: National Graphene Institute ©Hufton + Crow Top right: Professor Kostya Novoselov conversing with Jestico + Whiles architect Tony Ling about the National Graphene Institute, photo ©Aurelien Thomas Middle: Future first interiors for a future first building. ©National Graphene Institute photo Daniel Shearing Below: Section drawing

Perhaps at odds with the stereotypical, somewhat secretive image of an address at which major advancements occur, it opens up- at least symbolically- the experiments and projects for all to see. First isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004, itself a symbol of significant pride for the people and the city they occupy, why should residents not also feel involved in the graphene rush- arguably the most significant miracle to come from this town since the Industrial Revolution? This follows through onto the veil of the inner skin, itself visible to the public. Made from hundreds of tiny black mirror stainless steel panels, each boasting thousands of perforations, the resulting pattern is somewhat educational- making up the equations used in the material’s research. Elsewhere assets include original artwork by Manchester’s Mary Griffiths, and seminar room opening out onto roof terrace containing a bio-diverse garden. Another example whereby notions of indoors, outdoors, public and private are very much merged, the result is a suitably innovative construction that could never focus entirely on form- such is the importance of its function- but has managed to marry the two in a way befitting its purpose.






Image: Biomimicry Interior of tropical biome Eden Project © Exploration Architecture






t Design Exchange, we believe collaboration and the sharing of ideas are key to any creative process. This philosophy of democratised knowledge and the creation of new partnerships can deliver critical projects which bring together a variety of skills.

Artists, architects and engineers have long been working collaboratively. History has shown how the combined efforts of professionals from different fields has come to achieve deeply innovative and visionary results. This idea of problem solving by combining wide ranging professions allows for innovative proposals to be created for goals like optimisation, performance, and sustainability. Biomimicry is a principle that was born directly from this idea of interdisciplinarity, applying concepts or schemes to other areas. It is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. It aims to create products, processes and policies that are well-adapted to life on Earth following the main idea that nature has already solved many problems we face. So, animals, plants and micro-organisms can be seen as the accomplished engineers that have already answered many questions that confront us today. These biomimetic projects or innovations can respond to human challenges, whether those are related to energy, construction and architecture, transportation, agriculture, medicine, or even communication. The act of bringing together an architect and a biologist is likely to result from smart and innovative projects inspired by nature but adapted to the future. From sustainability to biomimicry, it is just another step in the process of designing our future responsibly. One early example of biomimicry was the study of birds by Leonardo Da Vinci to enable human flight. Although never successful in creating a flying machine, the artist-inventor was a keen observer of avian anatomy. He conducted the first biomimicry trial through an innovative, mechanical project. In 2016, we can find numerous applications of biomimicry principles underlying systems or objects that we use every day. Photovoltaic systems mimicked the way leaves harvest energy. Following the same idea, desert lizards inspired architects and engineers to replicate the systems used to gather water in the desert whilst reducing the energy consumed. Many other examples could be listed, and many of them can be found in a few architectural practices specialising in applying biomimicry principles to the design process. Exploration Architecture is one of the leading disciplines in this field today. Established by Michael Pawlyn in 2007, its philosophy lies in utilising solutions found in biology to develop new strategies, radically rethink existing building types, and cultivate a completely new approach to the design process. Shortlisted for the Young Architect of the Year Award and the internationally renowned Buckminster Fuller Challenge, Pawlyn and colleague Yaniv Peer’s work is worth investigating: it shows a wide catalogue of solutions found in biology and developed in smart architectural proposals that go beyond simple sustainable responses to the need for restorative responses that deliver net positive impacts.





Top: Michael Pawlyn of Exploration Architecture explains the exhibit to attendees at the Interface showroom event Image: The Exploration Architecture exhibition hosted at the Interface showroom



In 2014, an exhibition was held at the Architecture Foundation exploring how Pawlyn and Peer’s practice uses biomimicry, 3D printing and new materials to inspire the next design paradigm. The exhibition “Exploration Architecture: Designing With Nature” went on tour and was recently hosted by Interface, a worldwide leader in the design and production of modular carpet. Interface has worked with Exploration Architecture for many years, most recently as part of its Beautiful Thinking campaign. The campaign celebrates the individuals and companies that have driven real innovation in their industry and beyond, we met the partners at the event to gain an insight into their motivations, practices and philosophies. “We always have one project for which we have a client and one self-initiated project at the same time. It allows us to develop concepts to be ready for when the clients come,” explains Pawlyn. Put another way, the practice tends to seek experimentation rather than profit and consequently develops a different approach to the standard project process. “A self-initiated project starts with a problem- what are the challenges that we are currently facing today? “Water and food shortages, nutrition, energy issues, housing crisis, so many things that we can start working on. From this challenge, we start to look for ideas from nature of how you would solve it, and then we do a quick commercial viability test. Once we have an outline idea of the project, we start bringing people together, and then start to collaborate. We develop a first stage idea, look for funding, develop a pilot project, see how it backs up financially, and eventually, hopefully, make a business out of it.” The Moebius Project was one of these self-initiated proposals, starting with an idea to tackle the issue of food waste. The challenge was to make cities more productive food-wise, thus more

adaptive to the future. Pawlyn and Peer started to work on this more than seven years ago and today the pilot is being developed, tested and improved upon, in the hope of finally delivering a solution. Although the financial model still needs to be built and a name for the project found, Peer is excited, and already imagines himself living in a city where this kind of waste no longer exists. Parallel to this, the pair are currently working on a biomimetic office building, rethinking every aspect of standard design and achieving remarkable results. Not least 30% savings in concrete and 50% in glass. The exhibition dedicated to their practice also showcased the Sahara Forest Project. Mimicking desert species and ecosystem models, the project develops schemes that can produce large amounts of renewable energy and reverse desertification in some of the most water-stressed parts of the planet, without any greenhouse gas emissions. These projects are possible in part thanks to the plethora of opportunities new technologies offer, allowing us to get much closer to the way structures are made in nature. 3D printing allows us to reproduce and adapt these biological structures, turning them into architectural projects much as we reimagine things as medical or transportation innovations. Regarding technology and materials sciences, Peer believes “the digital world today is quite artificial, superficial - we are creating algorithms for the sake of creating algorithms but perhaps it’s just as an experimentation, we’re getting to the point where we are starting to understand their power. Now we need to try modelling algorithms based on nature’s adaptation.” These algorithms would allow us to experiment with countless combinations using nature’s patterns and systems as models to develop architectural solutions well adapted to the living environment.





“In nature things don’t only have a single function, they have multiple functions. Buildings can drastically reduce the amount of concrete used if we start placing them where they are required. Then we can start creating unbelievable life resources through buildings,” says Peer. “If you take a look at materials produced in nature, a spider’s web for instance, they are only produced with nutrients from food- flies- water and ambient temperature and are incredibly resistant structures, more resistant than any material we can make. And it changes, the spider can reabsorb it and reproduce it”. After having a deeper look into the biological world that surrounds us, the exploration of biomimetic responses feels right. Perhaps even obvious. We might expand this idea to open up the scope of possibilities, too, and think of integrating genetics to these new biomimetic structures, turning them into live structures capable of adapting in real time to a changing environment. One of the most amazing skills every living thing possesses is the ability to mutate in order to adapt to the context that surrounds it. This is something that could be pushed further when rethinking the way we design buildings for the future. In term of clients, Pawlyn and Peer’s approach is also different to many of their contemporaries as they don’t usually take part in design competitions or public calls for tender. Instead they choose their clients carefully, according to values and principles. “The question is who has got the right mindset to be our client? Whatever project you do it is a representation of who you are. We usually work for visionary clients who have an environmental

“You talk about buildings evolving and adapting to their environment and people might laugh at you. But the important thing is to have the right mindset to experiment and investigate such possibilities,” agenda behind their project. We wouldn’t discount working with anyone as long as they have the right motivation.” They are convinced this is the way an architectural practice needs to work in order to help drive the world towards a better and more sustainable future. By creating their own market around sustainable values and environmentally sensitive clients they generate the opportunity to experiment and investigate biomimetic solutions. “The government legislation is going in only one direction- environmentally driven projects. For whatever reason you want it to be, practices today have to move beyond sustainable design, they have to produce regenerative architecture”. This ‘right mindset’ isn’t easy to find. Many people are too pessimistic to believe in a sustainable future, and Pawlyn and Peer are conscious that the path they have chosen is difficult. “You talk about buildings evolving and adapting to their environment and people might laugh at you. But the important thing is to have the right mindset to experiment and investigate such possibilities,” says Peer. He has a point too.

Top: Sahara Forest Project pilot under construction Photo © Exploration Architecture Below: Impression of Biomimicry Sahara Forest Project © Exploration Architecture

A person should not be characterised as utopian or whimsical for believing in such prospects. Reflecting this, the pair want to move towards the next generation of architects.



Image: Impression of Biomimicry Office Building interior © Exploration Architecture

“We have no fantastic vision of the future anymore. The average age of a NASA engineer back in the 60’s was 24- during the first Apollo mission. Today it’s 58. There used to be dynamic, inspiring, forward thinking youngsters, excited about the idea of space travel. Today, it’s our role as architects to try and change politics and policy. It’s down to us to be the most positive.” Peer also quotes Paul Hawken, whose advice for the next generation was simple. “Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.” For his part, Pawlyn places high hopes in future professionals. “The next two or three decades are going to be some of the most challenging humanity has ever faced and I think there is a huge amount of things architects can do. The ones who won’t embrace this risk ending up on the wrong side of history.” The challenge is well summarised by Buckminster Fuller’s aim- to “make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone”.



“The next two or three decades are going to be some of the most challenging humanity has ever faced and I think there is a huge amount of things architects can do. The ones who won’t embrace this risk ending up on the wrong side of history.” The more you listen to these innovators, the more you feel convinced this is the correct approach to practice, and the more it dawns on you that we are only aware of a small proportion of our planet’s resources and capabilities. The promise of a bright future for this astonishing rock in the cosmos relies on solving problems from within. At Exploration Architecture, Pawlyn and Peer have these ideas clearly in mind, and are working for the good of us all.

Fragments of Blue

Wall Sculpture Triptych by Denise mt Basso 500 x 500 mm x3 Living with Glass exhibition Vessell Gallery London in collaboration with Glass for Interiors Arts Council England



Should living organisms be engineered for human gain - or entertainment? How does our biology interact with, and inform, our culture? What can we learn from the history of ancient diseases? WORDS FELICIA MONTALVO


growing number of artists, researchers, scientists and hackers around the world are using living materials to explore issues at the intersection of biology and society: How do biological systems and biotechnology interact with culture? Can - or should - living organisms be engineered for human gain?

Chasing these questions has led to everything from a bacterial engineering system that recognizes and deletes harmful mutations to a “victimless” leather jacket grown from mouse tissue. But harnessing the power of living organisms to cure disease, create art, and cultivate peculiar pets (See glow in the dark rabbits) also opens the doors to an unprecedented set of ethical questions and debates. Design Exchange spoke with an Artist, Biohacker, and Professor of Contestable Design to see what happens when art, science, and technology collide:


I’m fascinated by the history and potential futures of biomedicine and microbiology. How we treated disease in the past and how bacteria and viruses may be harnessed in the future.


It helps us to create ways of conceptualising and understanding contemporary issues around biology and biotechnology. Art is a different means of communication to can reach people.


I have an ongoing collaboration/art residency with Modernising Medical Microbiology and my work around gut bacteria, whole genome sequencing and tuberculosis with them.

I’m also working on a body of work around antibiotics and drug resistance - such as in “Engineered Antibody” - a collaboration with University of California Irvine.





I work with the actual, but not necessarily the desireable. I create objects to be contested, prototypes for cultural discussion. It can be seen as an artistic intervention in the design world.




Scientists can be very focused on outcomes, not realising they are leaving cultural understanding of life behind. Artists can shine light on those areas, philosophers can make sense of it all.


Golempolis is a piece within a series of events celebrating the Bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s publication of Frankenstein. We are building a mud golem incubator during the festival, heated by compost. In it we will culture semi-living animal

parts (cells), bringing part of Tower Hamlets cemetery into partial liveness.



We’ve all been biohackers, since the beginning of time - making cheese, wine, and babies. Today it might be more commercialized, but there are still instances where it shares the same ethos of computer hacking -- freeing tools and knowledge for all.


I am interested in making visible things that are invisible. My current project with detecting and extracting estrogens is way to reveal a form of slow violence on our bodies and our environment. My work is always situated at the intersection of culture and biotechnology.


For Open Source Estrogen we produced several DIY/DIWO methods for performing solid phase extraction (SPE) of estrogens as well as a website for identifying areas of estrogenic pollution ( Our installation will be up in MediaLab-Prado for the next month. DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK



Below: Riitta’s luminous aunt Tuija bravely stepped into the dark waters of lake Kelvä wearing nothing but her favourite plant, the Yellow Water Lily. Eyes As Big As Plates # Tuija (Finland 2012) (Lady with lily pads in water) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth Right page: Eyes As Big As Plates # Astrid II (Norway 2011) copyright © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth


A brief leaf through a book featuring over 50 portraits, field notes and behind-the-scenes stories from seniors around the world. WORDS JOSH PLOUGH





Image: Eyes As Big As Plates # Agnes II (Norway 2011) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth



Image: A 97-year-old parachutist, Agnes was the perfect embodiment of the fabled North Wind. At 150cm height she was worried only about being blown out to sea at Ølberg in Norway. Eyes As Big As Plates # Agnes I (Norway 2011) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth

Eyes As Big As Plates is the ongoing collaborative project between the Finnish-Norwegian artist duo Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Starting out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore, the project has evolved into a continual search for a modern human’s relationship with nature. The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics, and 90-year-old parachutists.

Image: Riitta Ikonen, Karoline Hjorth, and collaborator Edda in Iceland © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth

Since 2011 the artists have portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, the US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, Japan, Greenland and Korea. Each image in the series presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place. Here nature acts as both content and context: characters literally inhabit the landscape wearing sculptures they create in collaboration with the artists. As active

Image: Eyes As Big As Plates# Marty (US 2013) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth



Left: Mortan has been fishing since he was 14. Now 73 he has no plans of retiring and he is a local legend. There are so many stories from Mortan’s long and colourful life at sea, that we were recommended to book a slot at the Faroese radio archives to hear his memoirs. Eyes As Big As Plates # Mortan (The Faroe Islands 2013) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth Below: Eyes As Big As Plates # Jakob (Greenland 2015) Jakob had worked for years on vessels in the arctic waters and we found out after the shoot that the only thing he was afraid of was ice. Eyes As Big As Plates # Jakob (Greenland 2015) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth Right page: A regular at the New York Indoor Gardening Society, Bob agreed to model on the condition that we wouldn’t mess the style he had taken many years to perfect. We obeyed and only added pine needles. Eyes As Big As Plates # Bob (New York 2013) © Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth

participants in our contemporary society, these seniors encourage the rediscovery of a demographic group too often marginalised via stereotypical clichés. It is in this light that the project aims to generate new perspectives on who we are and where we belong. Eyes As Big As Plates book is out early 2017 and is currently touring with the Norwegian National Museum and has previously been shown at Fotogalleriet (Oslo), Pioneer Works (New York, US), The Finnish Institute in Oslo, Paris and Stockholm, Seibu Shibuya (Tokyo), Villa Borghese (Rome), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Nebraska, US), the Ars Fennica exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts Kiasma, Bogota International Photo Biennale (Colombia), gallery FACTORY in Seoul (South Korea), and Finlandia University Gallery (Michigan, US).






Liverpool UK


Stepping into the grounds of the North West’s most innovative and forward thinking healthcare facility confirms one thing, if nothing else. Few hospitals, if any, have ever looked like this before.

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Image: Not just another infirmary; the new Alder Hey is part of the surrounding park Photo Š David Barbour


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Above: Light, airy and playful, the hospital atrium with its iconic tree house structure Next page: Quite a view; children make the most of the hospital’s many balconies Photo Š David Barbour


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Above: Original plans for the new hospital Below: BDP Architect Director Ged Couser Photo © David Barbour







Alder Hey Childrens Health Park Project


Landscape Plan, Level Plan, 01 Level 00


1 : 500 @ A2




The original Alder Hay was a Liverpool institution. First opened in 1914, over the course of its life it would become one of the most famous children’s hospitals in Europe, laying claim to the first trial of penicillin in pneumonia treatment, amongst other accolades. Post-millennium a decision was made that relocating to a completely new, purpose built hospital would be more effective than continuing to maintain and update the original site. In 2013 work began at Springfield Park, adjacent to the old address. BDP won the contract as lead architects, and the results are outstanding.


Left: Coloured windows make a welcoming atmosphere Middle: Green space for every patient Right: Inside one of the high-tech wards Photo © David Barbour

Consultation played a huge part in the overall design of Alder Hey Hospital In The Park, as it’s now formally known, and this went well beyond discussions with the professionals that work here. Service users were also involved in the process, which has led to a patient-focussed plan inspired by 15-year-old Eleanor Brogan, whose drawn response to the question ‘what would your ideal hospital look like’ was deemed impressive enough to take into development. One of the most striking elements of the concept is the fact almost every room enjoys views of the green space in which the


design exchange

building is situated. The psychological impact of this influx of nature, particularly for patients staying extended periods of time, has the potential to be significant. Elsewhere, the central atrium is awash with yet more natural light, making for a bright open space filled with welcoming hues of colour, which even comes complete with its own treehouse structure. Not only does this house areas for specialist services, which in turn look back down on the atrium accentuating that feeling of openness, it continues the theme of tranquil nature inside and

out, accentuating the playful ambience. So too do the iconic turfed roofs defining the exterior. Sloping down from fourth floor to ground level, they add fantasy-like aesthetics to the mix. Combined with some of the most advanced medical facilities in the world- from 16 digitally enhanced theatres to 48 critical care beds with full en suite provision for families- this ÂŁ250million project is a giant leap forward in the healthcare provision for the 270,000 children expected to pass through its doors annually.



Image: British Council collaborate with emerging artists, AltCity São Paulo



e all know the world isn’t really getting any smaller. But it kind of is.

Circa 1995, roughly 1% of the global population was online. In 2016 that figure sits at 40%, and rising fast. Borders and miles mean little anymore unless we physically cross them. Aside from a minority of corners, the planet has opened up to itself in so far as facilitating the dissemination of information and ideas. We don’t need to meet, or even live on the same continent as those we collaborate with. Opportunities are everywhere. Yet in many ways the British Council’s work has never been more vital; nurturing creative practice, thought and theory by linking the UK with overseas bodies, institutes, individuals, projects and more. Thanks to the sheer volume of information, not to mention number of potential avenues our newfound global networks offer, without organisations like this seemingly disparate entities could potentially stay that way. Unable to find each other in the chaos of options. “We are a global charity, more than 80 years old, with representation in pretty much every country. Our purpose is to create long term relationships and connections between people across the world and the UK,” explains the organisation’s Director of Global Creative Economy, Beatrice Pembroke. The results of these efforts to exchange skill, talent and ideas are evident in a wide variety of undertakings, each as imaginative and forward thinking as the last. Digital Futures UK/MX, for example, forged an unlikely partnership between Mexico City and Dundee, coinciding with the Dual Year of the UK and Mexico. The goal was to see what these wildly different UNESCO cities of culture could impart on, and learn from, one another.





Image: UK design studio and digital arts visionaries Marshmallow Laser Feast collaborate with 18 emerging artists in a two-week residency venturing into the heart of Latin America’s largest city



Innovation ZA was a Johannesburg discussion about art and the digital space via workshops, talks, and exhibitions. Perhaps most important, though, were the so-called ‘hustles’ this involved, giving young people the opportunity to meet and brainstorm with industry professionals. Meanwhile, Playable City Lagos saw technologists, artists and creatives from Britain and South Africa design prototypes to help people engage with the urban landscape in new ways. These were then tested in real situations. Three examples, all from the last 12 months or so. And the list doesn’t end there. More recently, London-based design and digital arts studio Marshmallow Laser Feast worked alongside Brazilian partners to create a new exterior exhibition for the 25-storey SESI tower in Sao Paulo. Thanks to digital mapping, 3D scanning, 360-degree photography, not to mention a meeting of sharp minds, an immersive public artwork was born. Yet even that description seems a bit simple. “So for this we worked with SESI gallery, the building has this huge interactive facade on one of the busiest roads in Sao Paulo. They wanted us to send over work from British artists to project onto the screen. So I thought well we could do that but wouldn’t it be more interesting if we worked with some local artists and people in the city for something more interactive,” says Pembroke. “It’s a particular type of 3D mapping for this, the Marshmallow guys have worked with it before for a really beautiful VR project, alongside AnD Festival, that allowed you to experience the New Forest from the perspective of a frog. Or a bee. Or some other inhabitant. So 3D environments of Sao Paulo were developed, and used alongside survey maps made up of captured data, creating a piece about the city itself.” This idea of bringing residents into the project is indicative of the British Council’s overall stance. Pembroke is quick to point out that, despite what the name might suggest, this is not a ‘propaganda machine’ for Queen or country. We’d argue it’s not a propaganda machine for anything, other than a collaborative doctrine. Nor is it an invasive or disruptive force. Instead, the emphasis is very much on getting involved with like-minded, but often differently skilled forces in the name of creative pursuits, with a penchant for creative pursuits that could lead to real change- from improved urban navigation to altered perspectives, to policy amendments.

“Everything we do involves local artists, local partners, but I think it’s the more interactive, experiential based stuff we really like. So really it’s about asking how can we get more people to experience what it’s like to make creative work. “A lot of what we do involves cities, and new ways of helping citizens connect and look at their cities differently. Particularly with the rise of the ‘smart city’, or just generally as our cities become faster and more connected in so many ways they also become more stressful places to visit. So how can we ease that, or more imaginatively see each other, our cities and our surroundings.” The Brazilian example served multiple ends. It created something aesthetic that is simultaneously for, about and by Sao Paulo and its residents- celebrating the city as a site of contrasts, an intersection of cultures, people, history, and future. It showcased the possibilities current technology presents in terms of visualising data, in turn encouraging people to consider fresh ways of presenting research. And, finally, it revealed the South American urban sprawl to a British studio, and vice versa, in a way nothing else could. Situated at a major thoroughfare in a town of 20million (with a further 40 in the wider county area), this type of exposure would usually be unthinkable and impossible away from the commercial glare of neon ads in Times Square or Tokyo. Digital arts specialists, intimate stories and personal works, given a soapbox on a level that offered endless possibilities. Let’s say someone walked by the SESI and stopped to admire this work, made by creatives they may otherwise never have encountered. That alone is a success. Perhaps that person is also involved in arts and culture, and this acts as catalyst for them to contact some of the practitioners involved to discuss ideas. Maybe the parties behind this effort continue sharing notes as the years go by, leading to more innovation. That any of these things could happen makes such experiments worthwhile to begin with. “I’m part of the arts work, there’s also a music team, design team. These are made up of specialists in the UK. Then we also work with local teams overseas and divide projects together. We always divide projects with and through partners. That could be a museum, gallery, tech startup, social enterprise, individuals. So we have this amazing network of people,” says Pembroke. “I think one of the most important things we do is provide bridges, and most vitally between independent activists and innovators and perhaps what you might consider more ‘establishment’ institutions- governments, city councils, companies. A lot of the time that really involves providing a mutual space to allow conversations to happen, for people to collaborate in and where projects can get off the ground.





Image: Mixture of activities during British Council, collaboration in São Paulo. Creative people from different disciplines and places test ideas, learn new skills and tackle social and civic challenges together.

“We often deal with new forms of creative hubs. That could be a hack space, indie art studio, open access workshop- anywhere where there are people working between disciplines, coming from different backgrounds. This tends to lead us towards people who are very involved in their community or interested in how their work can play a role in the wider city or community. There are thousands of these places across the world in all kinds of interesting locations. And I think that represents a new form of cultural leadership. It shares a different story about what the creative and arts systems look like today- not just galleries and museums but very much in the ‘real world’, wherever you look.” As you might expect, this penchant for approaching arts as some fantastic experiment is mirrored in the British Council’s view on who fits the bill to work with. Although true postmodernism or pluralism dictates there can be no definite answer as to the ‘ideal candidate’, fitting some criteria will help the cause of any individual or collective. DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Above: Beatrice Pembroke, Director of Global Creative Economy, at the British Council, currently developing a new cities programme as well as plans for Korea, Syria and East Africa. Photo ©Agnese Sanvito Middle & Left: São Paulo, and some of the 18 artists.

“We work with people that don’t necessarily see themselves in one particular art form, but instead have a more fluid understanding of creative practice and are looking to push the boundaries in some way.” Whilst not gospel, this ‘average collaborator’ demographic seems inevitable. Pembroke’s organisation is fundamentally concerned with opening up new doorways, at times simply just to see what may or may not be on the other side. This perspective will really only interest others of a similar disposition. Those who want to explore medium, discipline, direction and, most importantly, perceived limitations. “People also need to demonstrate they have some form of community already established. Or a network of sorts. There needs



to be something there already, some type of leadership structure, and I don’t mean that with a capital L. They are also usually using technology appropriately. It doesn’t have to be a new technology, but it needs to be a new idea.

“Our partners tend to be quite sophisticated in that way. They do work commercially and artistically, balancing the two. That sounds obvious to many people, but in the arts world that’s still quite often outside the norm.

“They might be socially active too, but have a triple bottom line understanding. So not necessarily social enterprises, but they understand that you can make a profit and still be contributing to a wider part of society.”

“Funding is decreasing for the arts in some places, but then a lot of places where we work never had funding to begin with. Certainly in the UK and Europe, though, there’s been a marked decrease, so yes people are having to be more sensible about revenue. But then relying entirely on public funds isn’t much fun either. A lot of people we work with much prefer to have more control over their output by getting the commercial work and then using that to subsidise what they want to do.”

It’s a vision at odds with the Romantic imagery of a struggling creative- intent on sacrificing nothing from their craft even if it means gruel for dinner again. In reality, though, creativity has long offered means of income, and in many ways this end of the global economy is booming. And the cleverest understand exploiting this doesn’t have to mean restricting overall output.




Image: A dramatic way to clean cities ©SmogFree Project Roosegaard



e’re standing in the middle of a grassy wasteland, located behind an industrial unit on the side of a Rotterdam dual carriageway. Not exactly the place you expect to find a possible solution to one of the biggest problems currently facing the urban environment. “Watch this, it’s really cool,” says Daan Roosegarde, over the top of a biting Dutch wind. He’s not joking, either. With the flick of a button what’s arguably the most lauded of this inventor’s inventions kicks into life. Simply known as the Smog Free Tower, the obelisk-like structure powers up, revealing sides made of individual vents. It’s designed for one thing. Air particles are attracted to the tower, sucked in and purified before clean air is emitted back into the atmosphere. The definition of space-age aesthetics and ideas, it cleans 30,000 cubic metres per hour, and uses no more electricity than a boiler- 11,000watts. To make the process all the more impressive, the filth it collects is then harvested and encased in a high end material to form jewellery pieces that have found favour amongst world leaders, company directors, celebrities, and your average guy or gal on the street. It’s about making people emotionally and physically connected to the solution, in turn keeping the issue in their minds, on their fingers and round their necks. The result has been scores of customers sending pictures of themselves wearing items from the collection in all manner of situations. In the spirit of the current age’s desire to share everything, these images are now available to view on the Studio Roosegaarde Facebook Page. We’re hoping there’s a coffee table picture book in this somewhere, but let’s not digress too much.







Top: Smog particles collected by Roosegaarde’s invention Bottom: Turning pollutants into jewellery ©SmogFree Project Roosegaard

“I was in Mumbai... Beijing we have a good connection with... the whole world wants one of these,” Roosegaarde continues. “You know invention is very ungrateful. In the beginning everyone says ‘Oh, it’s not possible, it’s not allowed’. Then they say ‘Why did you not do this before?’” Back inside the building, in what’s now being branded as Rotterdam’s ‘innovation district’- a once abandoned part of town increasingly favoured by tech and design startups- the scope of this mastermind’s imagination starts to become clear. Although sparsely furnished, everywhere ideas seem to be germinating. Unusual objects and prototypes are in abundance. A mezzanine-level office looks down on the shop floor, and appears as the HQ for any progressive firm should. This is the kind of space where extraordinary thoughts can easily find their feet, and concepts some might deem impossible to realise step closer to becoming realities. For those unfamiliar with Roosegarde’s portfolio, it’s both abstract and truly practical. He’s the guy who decided to take a 1KM stretch of the famed Van Gogh Cycle Route through the Dutch region of Noord Brabant, where the legendary artist was born and raised, and make it glow-in-the-dark by coating the surface with a version of The Starry Night. Powered by a nearby solar panel, the idea was to illuminate the peddle-powered thoroughfare in a manner more sympathetic to the nature that surrounds it, creating a functional public ‘connection with cultural history’. More recently, his Smart Highway project, which began in Oss, has seen multicoloured lines light up at night to mark out the road’s edges in the hope of making it safer for cars, whilst also more energy efficient and cost effective. Over three days in May 2015, a temporary installation in Amsterdam aimed to show people just how vulnerable the Dutch capital is to rising sea levels by ‘flooding’ Museumplein with blue LED projections. Meanwhile, experiments with bio-luminescent bacteria found in jellyfish and mushrooms might just break new ground with the development of ‘luminous trees’, which could potentially replace street lights and require no electricity whatsoever. “A lot of the stuff I do I do it because I want to. It’s a personal obsession,” explains Roosegaarde when we ask if he still considers non-solution-focussed design relevant. “But then I love to see the world around me as a canvas, to relate to and engage with. There’s never a 100% pragmatic agenda, there’s also a poetic agenda. It’s an interesting mix. Consider the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo. On the one hand that project was commissioned by the happy rich people of the time, but it’s now considered an autonomous artwork.” The conversation moves on to what we’re really here to discuss- the need for us, as a species, to collaborate in order to solve many problems the world must overcome to ensure survival beyond the next century. Or two, if we’re lucky. Unsurprisingly, he agrees with our thoughts on sharing knowledge and resources if there’s any chance of escaping a fate that already feels worryingly sealed.



Image: Inside the Smog Free Tower Next page: The machine opening up ©SmogFree Project Roosegaard

“80% of what I do now I was never educated for. So I have to be an infiltrator. A few years ago I didn’t know anything about smog, but I teamed up with the experts and now I know a lot. It’s like journalism- you dive into the story, you’re naively curious, but that gets fed with intelligence and knowledge. It’s how a child learns. “But you’re right, we are very bad at working together. That’s the sad thing. You could build the most sustainable underground parking garage in the world for millions of Euros, then driverless cars come along and it’s no longer useful. In a world where technology is moving forward exponentially, where what we want from reality is shifting along with what it expects from us, suddenly this becomes about mobility. So what about an electric car that powers your house- BMW becomes an energy company, or something like that. It’s about designing new links. That’s when design becomes powerful.”



From the outside looking in, whilst Roosegaarde’s undertakings are unarguably varied- different materials, platforms, locations and audiences- one consistent theme jumps out, to us at least. A desire to force people to consider the impact of humanity on the planet, with a predisposition for that most omnipresent of natural assets- the sky. A vast expanse that can be seen from everywhere regardless of whether the ground is grass or concrete, the naked eye is blind to how much mankind is changing the state of that endlessness. In many ways you could argue that Roosegaarde wants to make this visible. “I’m interested in clean things, really- clean air, clean environments. I wouldn’t say it’s true that there is a constant theme of the sky. The cycle path, for example” We hesitantly point out The Starry Night link, which literally placed what’s above below the feet and wheels of those using the cycle path, and can’t help but feel like rude dinner guests intent on



Image: Looking down on the invention ©SmogFree Project Roosegaard

“The idea of designers having a responsibility sounds a little serious, but I’m also tired of chairs, tables, and lamps. We need to stop designing chairs, tables, and lamps.”

making smart comments in the hope of proving a point. Thankfully, he understands this isn’t the case. Instead, we’re merely fascinated with his catalogue of work as one whole, and keen to learn what makes him tick. “Ahh, so yes it was a mirror of the sky. Alright, alright- jesus. Who wants to be right all the time?” We offer to get our coat. He allows us to stay. “Yeah the sky is important. You take it for granted as a Dutch guy. Then you go to Beijing for three months and realise ‘shit, I’ve not seen the sky properly since arriving in China’. We’re also below sea level in the Netherlands, so we’re really connected with the environment and technology- it’s almost in our DNA. The fight against water, the flatness. It really influences how you design. The clouds teach you also. Why would you clean the skies? This is why.” This notion continues through to another one of Roosegaarde’s endeavours. A depiction of the Netherlands as viewed from the stratosphere, revealing a complex mess of light polluted urban areas, has been used to create special edition postage stamps. The random patterns are visually compelling, for both good and bad reasons. Again, it’s a comment on how progress is simultaneously doom. “They asked us to do a stamp, and in the beginning were like ‘can you put your own artwork on them?’ I thought this was really boring, so decided to use pictures of the Netherlands at night, from space. So there are two ways to look at this. One, the connection of lights is beautiful, the cities. It shows just how networked things are. But then it’s also horror. This is pollution. It shows the impact we’re having on planet Earth. Deep in those expanses of bright yellow are animals that cannot sleep at night, for example.



“Maybe if we do this again in ten years it will be much darker, because the lights we use will have become more natural and will not disturb other species. I hope so, but you don’t know. Anyway, it’s the cheapest Roosegaarde ever- €6.99. All the rest are priceless.” Beaming from ear-to-ear, this rapier wit belies the seriousness of the subject matter, and that’s exactly what makes his character so unique. In many ways Roosegaarde is like a Bond villain turned good. Obsessed with his work, hauled up in a base of his creation. Gadgetry and a seemingly insatiable appetite for experimentation- or at least having the nerve to ask ‘what if’- are his calling cards. He’s also impeccably dressed, completing this image. There’s an innocence to it all, an open-eyed view of the world that refuses to accept the status quo as unchangeable. A few millennia ago he’d be the one arguing as to whether intrepid explorers would really wind up falling off the edge once they reached the end of the oceans, which isn’t that different from what he does in our time; making us consider whether ideas are fact, and if thoughts can’t be re-appropriated for more than their original intended purpose and put towards previously unimaginable ends. It’s positively infectious, and incredibly refreshing from where we’re sitting. “The idea of designers having a responsibility sounds a little serious, but I’m also tired of chairs, tables, and lamps. We need to stop designing chairs, tables, and lamps. With all due respect to my colleagues- they have done their part, and created their own playground, which has allowed me to create mine, and do what I do. But I don’t think design is about decoration. I think it’s about improving life.



“Good design is curious about the future, moving away from opinion and coming up with proposals. The corporates, the cities, they need new ideas. So it’s also a playground. You can become super-functional but also super-sci fi. There is such a huge desire for new ideas, new prototypes, new inventions, new upgrades. That makes the whole thing extremely fun. And you can see that. We’re only five or six years old, and look where we are already. There is still much to do, thoughalways much more we can do.”

“Good design is curious about the future, moving away from opinion and coming up with proposals.”

Above: The Smog Free Tower improving parkland Left: The machine is alive Right page: (top) The Tower, mid-breath (below) Dirt, cubed ©SmogFree Project Roosegaard







Image: Part factory, part showroom, Deltalight’s HQ




ARCHITECTUURBURO GOVAERT & VANHOUTTE Picture the scene. You’re driving along a busy European highway. On either side of the road there are factories, manufacturing sites, works units. A collage of similarly designed utilitarian structures that become a kind of visual background noise. Suddenly, on the horizon, something else demands attention.



Top: Benny Govaert & Damiaan Vanhoutte from Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects Bottom: Deltalight founder Paul Ameloot with his sons Peter and Jan. Middle: Deltalight in display Right: A landmark in its own right

In many ways the expansion of Deltalight’s Belgian headquarters, a project by Architectuurburo Govaert & Vanhoutte that has increased the overall square meterage of the site from 32,000 to 37,500, has achieved two things. And it’s this combination that positions the build as innovative. It offers more efficiency and floor space for the company to create their beautiful lighting products thanks to a new, fully automated, vertical factory area. Meanwhile, the striking way this has been added makes bold statements- this is obviously a company in rude health with plenty of ambition (the bespoke HQ), and one clearly involved with beautiful design. To merge the old and new buildings an overhanging ‘glass box’ has been fitted, which is now something of a local landmark in its own right. Visible for miles- due to its height and the striking materials used- this is more than a mere advert for success. It’s also an atrium and event space, which can exhibit the firm’s wares too.



By day, it draws in natural sunshine thanks to its transparency. After dark Deltalight products can illuminate the room, in turn shining back out through the glass and into the night sky. At once marrying showroom with production line and conference suite, to make matters more impressive the space can be changed with moveable floors and ceilings, aiding maintenance and providing options for events.

“It’s the opposite of the black boxes on each side, which are quite monumental. We felt there must be something special there, but it’s only Deltalight that this could be done for. The company has a lot of guests from abroad, they all come here and visit the factory, and so now the glass box has a big job to play in welcoming them. It’s used many times a month, and acts like an international meeting point.”

“The building itself is even angled differently to the highway compared with all the neighbours,” explains Michael Lammens, of Govaert & Vanhoutte. “If you come from Bruges suddenly Deltalight, turned at 90-degrees, offers a different perspective, it’s almost like a signpost. You can also see all the way through it from the highway, which is a nice effect.






Image: Ritums Ivanovs at his studio in Riga, Latvia




ecognised for his hyperrealist portrayals in self - invented line technique, Ritums Ivanovs is amongst Latvia’s most renowned artists, and one of the few who has succeeded in attracting global interest. It’s not that Latvia can complain about a lack of homegrown talent, but in most cases their fame fails to reach beyond the borders of the Baltic states. Being original and coming up with your own artistic language is an important step in each practitioners’ career, and whilst for some it comes naturally, for others it’s a result of years and years of experimentation. When Ritums was studying at the Art Academy of Latvia teaching methods were much more restricted. The country was segregated from the Western world. Graduates would leave the academy with all necessary techniques in pockets, but lacked the understanding of how to use them in their favour to develop an



Image: “Frame 7”, Erotic Movie, 2013.

artistic signature. It’s worth mentioning the Latvian art scene changed dramatically after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when artists finally had the freedom to choose a message for their art to deliver. But Ritums has mastered his technique perfectly. After graduating he studied at Humboldt State University and spent years exploring different techniques, and visiting exhibitions and biennales, trying to find his place in a world that, from one perspective, had already seen everything. Even his extremely large-format works portray popular, mass-culture faces, other evocative visages or expressive human bodies. This remarkable technique and the Nordic colour gamma is what, over the years, have taken him around the globe. These main interests are submerged in varying states of human emotions. The characters portrayed involve people from his life, icons and idols, figures from art history books and even erotic magazines.

Image: “Exposed”, Kate, 2013

meditation is one of the main sources of energy. We consume so much energy and never really think about how we could revitalise it- you can clearly see that in society. We get hooked up easier to negative emotions than positive. And that’s why art predominantly reflects on the negative aspects of the world because it’s easier to feed that to a consumer. Easiest example – pop culture. That’s why I have so many reflections on celebrities,” he explains. Everyone is interested in celebrities, whether we scorn or laud them. Magazines write about them, movies are inspired by them, they are invited onto TV shows, and the story goes on… Reporters follow their every move and every sentence said provokes a discussion. Ritums started analysing this phenomenon as it works as a barometer for what we are and what we like as a society.

The concept for one of Ritums’ latest series came from meditation and the emotions expressed whilst gazing up at the sun. During meditation we focus on the main source of energy within us, the energy of the sun, and that’s something that struck his interest.

“I’m really interested in a person’s face as a tool of expression, but not so much in how known the face is. I keep finding new concepts through that interest. I concentrate more on creating conceptual series that draw attention to a theme and emotions rather than the person portrayed. I don’t concentrate so much on the personal aspect, I’m more into socially objective observations, I like to see and scan what the people who attract us look like and why they are attracting so much interest. “

“I’m fascinated by the emotions people express during meditation - the art of staying focused. And I wanted to carry on the message, to bring positive energy and evoke ideas, as

The face is what makes us aesthetically individual and different from one another. It represents and, often, betrays us. To put a painting of the Madonna in a gallery - it might seem



Image: Stars. Lights On. exhibition view, 2010.  Below: Close up, Erotic Movie, 2013




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Image: Sungazing, Full of light, 2015

easy, but at the same time you use it as a tool to manipulate your ideas. Artists can allow audiences to become immersed in the complexity of human emotions through paintings. Society is ravished by this phenomenon of ‘celebrity’- and it’s slightly worrying. Will the trend change over the coming years? Speaking about the future, there are certain professions that are nourished by technologies and others that will try and stay out of the game. Technological evolution can make our lives easier as long as you know how to use them in your favour. Some photographers will stay loyal to analogue photography, some are waiting for the next high-spec camera to be launched. One

is no better than the other, it’s more a matter of our individual preferences. And even though painters, by definition, will stay loyal to brushes and paint, technological elements can help to speed up the process. Ritums uses photography as a base and then sketches and draws freehand, for example. A method that wasn’t available to painters until relatively recently in the grand history of art. Perhaps that classes as cheating? Maybe it’s just about knowing how to use all resources at your disposal? Again, it’s a matter of opinion, and one always open for debate.




Image: The Assemble team at work © Assemble




hat constitutes art? The question has plagued everyone from academics to gallery virgins for aeons; lives have flown by, careers been made and ruined, madness descended into, and drunken arguments waged in the ensuing thought processes.

The Turner Prize is a key force keeping this conversation alive. From messy beds and patchwork sex life diaries to animal carcasses, nominees and winners frequently force us to consider exactly where the line should be drawn between art and whatever the other is. So, when a London-based architectural collective walked away from 2015’s ceremony triumphant, we weren’t all that surprised. The victors, Assemble, may exist (well) outside the inner circle, but who can honestly say the result is that controversial when the accolade perennially courts controversy, thematically, practically, and ideologically? If you’re unaware, the winning project, known as Granby Four Streets, was- or, perhaps more accurately, is- a living, breathing community. Whether it would be in another ten years, had it not been for this interventionist scheme, is debatable. Situated in Toxteth, Liverpool, the group of houses and their surrounds had been ignored and allowed to spiral into destitution since devastating riots in 1981. A harsh, urban landscape scarred with the ghosts of old homes and society, according to one report, of 200 properties in the vicinity, by 2014 only 70 were occupied. Residents activated, forming a Community Land Trust, and enlisted Assemble to help deliver on a masterplan that has now seen the refurbishment and renovation of ten dwellings, along with what can only be described as an aesthetic overhaul of the streets themselves, with derelict facades now hosting murals.







Top: Urban decline in Liverpool Below: Brightening up the Granby Four Streets ©Assemble

can be restored to further improve the community. Realistically we’re going to be involved in the area for the forseeable future. There’s also Granby Workshop, which has come out of this, and will hopefully be an ongoing concern.” The Granby Workshop emphasises the idea of a project with reimagining at its core. Within the refurbished homes are mantlepieces made from rubble and construction waste, ceramic door handles smoke-fired in barbeques, and an abundance of other fixtures and fittings crafted by hand, therefore completely unique, and often made from reclaimed materials. The idea is now to sell a range of homeware products inspired by those designs, under the banner Made In Granby, employing residents and providing training in experimental manufacturing processes.

From near-complete abandonment an oasis of colour and invention has sprung forth. In April 2016, for example, this was one of a handful of locations used for special film screenings to commemorate Shakespeare’s anniversary. Meanwhile, a street market regularly encourages passing trade. And it’s this success that makes questions about artistic legitimacy somewhat arbitrary. If this were a work of art, though, what makes it so unique, bold and boundary pushing isn’t the fact it’s actually an estate of brick and mortar houses. Instead, it’s how the work remains unfinished almost a year after the Turner hype has subsided. More so, it will stay this way forever; a canvas that can never be completed because, by nature, a community is always evolving. “At the moment I’m working on the winter garden project, which now has Arts Council funding,” explains Anthony Engi Maycock, one of the founding members of Assemble, when we ask if their Granby job will ever be ‘done’. “That involves taking two of the houses that are in the worst states, and turning them into a kind of civic space. It’s really important to include aspects like this, to have a mix of every use. “There are another three houses that work is about to begin on, too, and I think there are another few the council are keen to offload. The properties are seen as burdens really, some are dangerous, it costs money to keep them up, and really the council wants people living in them.”

It fulfills a definite need to maintain the momentum of recent years. Yet, like Granby Four Streets the Turner winner, it has the potential to arm a PR minefield. To use a global analogy- if charitable and development projects are guilty of reinforcing the wealthy West as savior to the rest image, London-based architects providing solutions to decade-spanning problems in a northern English city could send out a similar message. Put simply, some demographics cannot change their circumstances without assistance from outside. “There’s definitely been a build up of trust over the last two or three years, which is an incredibly powerful and positive tool for change. I don’t know if we’re fully assimilated with the Granby residents, though, that’s quite a tricky one to judge yourself really,” Maycock replies when we ask whether he was concerned about negative perceptions of Assemble’s involvement. “A similar thing applies to our work in Glasgow for example- an inherent slight suspicion of people coming into a community to change it. We were really careful not to fall into that trap. I think the process of listening and being part of the community, going at a much slower pace, really helped- obviously you get closer the longer you’re involved with something. We’ve always wanted to understand the area as much as possible, and not feel as though we are imposing ourselves.”

There are two commercial sides to the scheme too, which, whilst still in early stages, add another level to Granby few would have considered possible even five years ago.

You could label this approach lucid, if that didn’t sound painfully conceptual. Centred on establishing a genuine relationship in order to work productively, it’s open to change and external ideas. Fittingly, this reflects how Assemble first came to be involved in the Granby scheme.

“We’re also doing research at the moment with regard to the high street. It’s essentially broken- partly intentionally, by inaction. Initially, after the riots, or uprising, as the people living there call it, there was a direct policy to break the area. It wouldn’t officially be labelled that, maybe managed decline- that’s where [Michael] Heseltine’s ‘managed decline’ phrase comes from.

“Originally we were invited up to Liverpool for a public square project, which didn’t really go anywhere, but introduced us to the area, which was useful,” Maycock says. “Then we were looking at a much larger project up there, but through the research that entailed- trying to learn about the area- we ended up meeting the Granby Community Land Trust.

“The high street and commercial side of an area are hugely important, so that’s the next phase we want to look at- how that

“They’re amazing, and have really fought hard for the last 20 years or more to save the place. In many ways it was really DEMAGAZINE.CO.UK


“I guess we just generally feel that architecture starts too late and ends too early in the usual model. The actual architecture isn’t as important as how you get there, what the problems are that need to be solved and how the architect goes about solving them. Most of the time you don’t get chance to fully explore those areas.” fortunate timing, as they were looking for architects when we came along. During their previous conversations they found practices almost talked down to them, or even ignored them in some cases. We were the first that spent a few hours listening.” Collaborative problem solving is disappointingly refreshing in a world that often feels dominated by blind pigheadedness, ignorance and insistence. And this is what makes Assemble’s involvement in solution-based projects so exciting- they grasp that to get real results working alongside, not for or above others, is essential “I guess we just generally feel that architecture starts too late and ends too early in the usual model. The actual architecture isn’t as important as how you get there, what the problems are that need to be solved and how the architect goes about solving them. Most of the time you don’t get chance to fully explore those areas.” So just how early is early enough? “Really, it means users should be involved in creating the space that implicitly affects them. This creates more opportune spaces, and a sense of ownership and agency towards the project and space. Fundamental to the success of lots of projects is people feeling they have control over the process that is changing their environment.” Rather than positioning themselves, and then sourcing work, Assemble almost allow work to position them, even if that’s only temporarily. From architects to artistic darlings, to stakeholders in a craft and design business.



Image: How the new Winter Garden could look © Assemble



Image: Potential scope of the Liverpool project © Assemble

That’s just one story from a truly varied portfolio. You could also reference furniture and soft play fittings for a park. An institution providing affordable access to craft tools, resources and workspace. A temporary cinema in an old petrol station. The pop up cultural venue sandwiched between flyovers. Clearly there’s a penchant for projects that engage with ideas around how people and places interact. Perhaps most importantly, though, the scope of work reveals a collective actively looking for new avenues, keen to engage with different disciplines. “Rules and dogma are never very helpful, often these are ways of opting out of thinking. If you have rules and processes that are predetermined in the end what you’re doing is opting out of the requirement to think about what you’re doing. “So much is now beholden to a system that actually doesn’t really have any relationship with the quality of space. That’s where the problem is- the value of things is purely judged in financial terms and people are allowed to exploit that completely. I don’t think this is because there has been a lack of thought, though, I think there’s a lot of thought that goes into it.

On the whole. Obviously there are some exceptions to that rule, but your standard housing model, the whole system is based around extracting profit- even the rhetoric from central government is promoting local councils to sell high value assets. It’s about profit, not cities or people, and I think that’s the heart and soul of the problem. The whole system is skewed in this direction.” A bleak picture, it brings us to our final question. Now we are so far down a purely profiteering path, is there still time to veer away from this restrictive, self-imposed future? “I don’t know, it’s hard to tell. What you can do is keep making gaps in the margins, and opportunities for yourself. All you can do is make sure you act in terms you’re comfortable and happy with. It does seem like more people are looking at more careful and considered ways of working and creating, which is helpful. So essentially yes, but it’s going to be chipped away at gradually. The whole idea of revolution is very tricky, as it implies some easy answer or fix, but the world is more evolutionary than that. “Then again, you just don’t know.”

“It’s just the direction of the thought is not about how you use space for people, it’s about extracting the most amount of profit.



Folio Material lightness and technological precision in perfect harmony. Surfaces, minimalistic radii and uniform contours are the result of highly precise manufacturing. A barely 3 mm thick cover made of glazed steel wraps tightly around the washplace and encases it like a waferthin sheet


Ransome Dock CLPD

London’s property market is a beast unto its own. As one of the world’s most expensive cities in which to stake a claim, it’s unsurprising developers are looking far beyond traditional investments in order to provide new homes and turn a profit.



Image: View from the River Thames



Left: Dean Louw CEO at CLPD (right) With Chief Architect Rafael Borrego Top Right: Life inside Ransome Dock

“It’s become harder and harder for us to source projects. The way the market has generally gone, people can’t afford property prices in London anymore, so they are less scared to take on a project that requires work,” says Dean Louw, CEO of bespoke developers CLPD. “As a result we’ve found the more traditional properties- renovations- are being bought by the end user who is able to pay more for it than we are because they don’t need to make a profit. “Effectively this prices us out of a market, so as a developer you have to look elsewhere, like commercial to residential, or sites, where you are putting up new builds. So in some ways the market is forcing us to look at commercial properties, but also just because of the sheer demand for new, purpose built office space, some of these old, quirky buildings are being converted, which makes sense.”

Standing at the cutting edge of interior design, if there’s a theme here, aside from sympathy to original features, it’s the creation of a home as a place to present, rather than simply inhabit. Concrete floors and ceilings nod to a lifetime ago, and in turn these are mirrored in the Minaccio kitchens, with the Italian firm’s Natural Skin range allowing one side to be clad in rough sandstone, and the other a tactile recycled paper, tying in with the raw textures that have long-since defined the property. Deltalight lighting turns open areas into exhibition halls, professionally illuminating artwork. Rexa bathrooms incorporate black marble amongst other assets, accentuating the robust feel. New wood-panel walls, introduced during this latest transformation, notably soften things, whilst adding yet more temptation to reach out and touch.

Ransome Dock, in Battersea, London, is a case in point. Now transformed into a pair of luxury apartments by CLPD, this latest stage of the building’s life follows a long spell spent as an industrial space, before a modern history as commercial studio for none other than Victoria Beckham. In many ways, the three bedroom residences offer an opulent answer to the question of room in the UK capital. NORTH:


frosted glass panel

wall light SKELP LED WW (320 02 12) by Deltalight

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pelmet for curtains with led strip lights

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Top: Floor to ceiling textures Image: Life inside Ransome Dock







ver coffee in The Common E2, off the abraded yet polished terrace of jewellery, fried chicken and Middle Eastern pastry shops on the Old Bethnal Green Road, owner Mark Sciberras explains what inspired his enterprise, set up just over a year ago.

Having studied in Brisbane, Australia, where he qualified as an architect and developed an interest in urbanism, he would walk past the shop-front offices of M3architecture, and daydream of his current undertaking. The Queensland-based reactive collective was founded in 1997, often works on socially engaged, civic and community-based projects, and is now regarded as one of the most important independent practices Down Under.



Image: The Common, E2 Cafe ®RoryGardiner/OTTO’



Image: The Common, E2 Cafe and shared workspace ®Amandine_Alessandra



Back in the London of today, Sciberras’ The Common bulges with the smell of ground coffee. Blueprints adorn the walls. Hand drawn geometric sketches scarring inkjet print photographs of home interiors sit beside framed litho master floor plans. And references to the profession don’t end with aesthetics. The definition of a working space, a long table in the center is populated by guests and their laptops. A row of professionals sit at their desks: a line of computers, placed at intervals along one side of the room. A shared facility, where the general public co-exists with two architectural practices, Collective Works and Sciberras’ Common Ground Workshop, this is a privately owned, but ostensibly public space, operating as both a shared office and café. Looking around we recall an experience from the previous year at David Chipperfield’s offices in Waterloo. A spacious, polished concrete place, with exposed air conditioning pipes, a rich smell of newly pumped Nespresso capsules lingered about the air, trays of freshly baked pastries and bowls of shiny ripe fruit sat on the communal tables. The big difference being Chipperfield’s HQ was housed in a secure private office, whereas the atmosphere of The Common E2 nods to a new type of professional space. For many freelance workers, operating from cafés, libraries and well-known fast food burrito chains is now ordinary. Descending on somewhere public to complete private tasks has become the norm, a trend that seems set to grow exponentially as the years roll by and traditional working structures become more irrelevant. Alasdair Dixon, co-founder of Collective Works, explains to us some of the projects that he and his practice have been engaging with and working on; projects that seem to define the odd, late-capitalist architectural condition of today.

“a privately owned, but ostensibly public space, operating as both a shared workshop and café” A condition where, on the one hand, ‘starchitectural’ projects - often media influenced and dedicated almost entirely to shaping London’s skyline - seem to ignore any conversation about the ballooning property crisis. Yet, conversely, these are met by smaller, often independent practices that strive to work with local communities and councils. Socially engaged organisations that are equally lambasted because terms like ‘gentrification’ are now deployed at will, and drip with near-universal disdain. Off Lilford Road, midway between Stockwell, Brixton and Camberwell, there is a 1000m2 underground car park which, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, fell out of regular use and became a magnet for antisocial behaviour, crime and fly-tipping. It was decided, near the end of the first post-millennial decade, that the space was too dangerous to remain publicly open. It had to be bricked up and left empty, hidden from the world. But Lambeth Council’s decision was met with anger. Why should such a big space lie destitute and empty, only to be discovered in the future, perhaps by some property developer or multinational retail conglomerate with pound signs for eyes? Why should this place be stolen from its own community? The most notable reaction came from Liberal Democrat councilman Steve Bradley, who campaigned instead to erect an iron fence across its entrance, gifting the space a potential future. In 2011, The Remakery, a Brixton based community co-operative, with help from built environment charity Architecture for Humanity (A.F.H.), won planning permission to convert the former car park into a community workspace dedicated to ‘making things from materials otherwise destined for landfill’. Collective Works and Dixon, himself an active member of A.F.H, tell us how the project had a rare but welcome community-driven set-up.



Left: Illustration of the Brixton Remakery A space for making things from waste materials open to local residents, makers, artists and businesses © Remakery. Right page: Self-driven initiatives in the King’s Cross area of London by Public Works ©Public Works.

business. To paint a picture with our point, it blows the proverbial dust off academic research projects many working architects have had to shelve in order to break bread. To borrow from esteemed anthropologist and geographer, David Harvey, ‘since (an) urban process is a major channel of surplus use, establishing democratic management over its urban deployment constitutes the right to the city’. So at what stage does an architect or practice get involved in a project that is both political and social?

When architects and designers are brought in to redesign a space for social enterprise there is often some disparity. Balancing the logistics of what may be an idealistic yet untenable vision, with the realities of factors like available funds and subsequent community ‘give-back’, can be difficult. So, for six months, the space was opened as a site of democratic discussion between members of the local community, A.F.H and The Remakery. A site to host weekly narratives on shaping an agreed future for the former car park, with this co-operative of makers, artists and local businesses it was decided that an entrepreneurial enterprise centre was the best use, where affordable workspaces are offered alongside access to those aforementioned materials that, without the project, would have been heading for the tip. Though The Remakery is only set to be fully operational later this year, the concept waves a triumphant flag for socially engaged development in the capital. By inviting the local community to play an active role in shaping the future of abandoned buildings, plots and civic spaces, it offers an example of how people can reclaim fading community spirit. It’s not only the redevelopment of this space, but also the programmes of educational courses and talks, not to mention the inspiring hands-on approach to realising the basic concept, that challenges the notion of an architecture purely focused on



Speaking to Torange Konsari, co-founder of Public Works, she tells me that traditionally the architect joins at the ‘end’, meaning a practice, in essence, will usually work within predetermined parameters. Public Works itself was founded in 2001 by a group of artists and architects, and the foundation of their practice is based on an active engagement with communities rather than top-down strategic organisation. They are not simply concerned with building physical structures, but systems that, in specific contexts, work toward what Konsari cautiously names ‘urban democracy’. A project such as 2009‘s DIY Regeneration, for instance, was interested in small-scale and self-driven initiatives in the King’s Cross area of London, which were motivated by a local need to get involved in regeneration. Over three months during the summer of 2009, Public Works talked to individuals and groups that had a direct and active involvement with their community and who- on a daily basiscontributed to altering the landscape of the area amid one of the largest inner city schemes in Europe. Each of these encounters produced a hand-made poster, capturing nuggets of wisdom and advice on the best ways to get involved, thus taking ownership of the neighbourhood. By seeking alternative ways with which to engage the public in development, be it the future of a high-street or a public park that has fallen into disuse, Public Works seeks to help everyday residents repossess their citizenship.



DESIGNING FOR CHANGE Ideas for a better world



CUCULA is a pilot project which empowers refugees to build their future, it’s an association, workshop, education program and meeting place. The focus is on direct action, creating a welcoming culture and empowering refugees to build a solid perspective based on self sufficiency. CUCULA wants to help these refugees break with the notion of ‘victimhood’ and at the same time unfold their potential and open up a perspective for a self-determined life. The Italian designer Enzo Mari has granted them the rights to his ‘Autoprogettazione’ project so that they can start making and selling their furniture to fund this cause.





Walk With Path is a healthcare company focused on injury prevention, improved mobility and user-centred design and intervention. Their products offer opportunities within therapeutic intervention by preventing falls and injuries. Path Feel is an insole which helps the wearer feel the floor better, through providing active feedback to improve balance. It is designed for individuals with peripheral neuropathy, such as the elderly, or persons suffering from diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. Path Feel also collects health data to assist in the development of diagnostics and personalised medicine solutions.



The Alternative Limb Project was set up to provide bespoke, cutting edge prosthetics that inspire a positive and forward thinking dialogue about the body - the wide variations and its evolution. Sophie De Oliveira Barata (founder of the project) is a sculptor and designer exploring prosthetics as a form of expression and as a re-imagining of the human form.Working closely with amputees, Sophie has created bespoke prosthetic limbs from the ornate to the abstract, using both traditional and cutting edge materials and technologies. Sophie’s work aims to expand our imagination of how the human body itself can evolve, and has collaborated with video games publisher KONAMI, fusing the worlds of sci-fi, pop culture and fashion with her creations.



Migrationlab is a non profit organization based in The Hague, Netherlands since 2014. They create opportunities for migrants, refugees and locals to meet, interact, collaborate and inspire each other in cities across Europe through the means of culture, social design and non-formal education. Migrationlab was initially a blog about Laura Pana’s migration journey as a Romanian migrant woman throughout Europe. One of the projects created is called Welcome to The Living Room. It combines culture & the arts, storytelling and social design to create a space of encounter open to everyone where migrants, refugees and locals have the possibility to connect and discover each other.



Laser revolutionises the silver screen

Introducing JVC’s DLA-Z1, 4K native D-ILA Projector, quite simply, it’s the ultimate expression of cuttingedge technology in home cinema projection, designed for enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, who enjoy uncompromised pictures on large screens. The DLA-Z1 4K projector, combines our newly developed, (World’s smallest) 4096 X 2160 DILA devices and new “Blu-Escent” Laser phosphor light source delivering exquisite native 4K high dynamic range (HDR) images at a brightness that fills every inch of a massive screen. With ability to deliver resolution beyond UHD at 80% BT.2020 coverage. Compatibility with High Dynamic Range content, and high native contrast creating home theater images that need to be experienced to be believed.

More info

DESIGNING FOR CHANGE Ideas for a better world





Disaster Tech Lab is a non-profit organisation that provides rapid response communication networks for use in disaster relief and humanitarian aid work. Their networks and services help to connect responding organisations as well as affected communities. They also develop new technologies for use in disaster response work. Little Sun is a social business and global project addressing the need for light in a sustainable way that benefits communities without electricity, creates local jobs, and generates local profits. It’s not charity but an inclusive social business; rather than a short-term fix of donating lamps to an area without electricity, they work with and train local entrepreneurs to build profitable local businesses that distribute Little Sun light. The light is a high-quality solar-powered LED lamp that was developed by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, with distribution in over 10 countries it’s aims to improve the lives of thousands people.



Above: Allpress cafe and coffee-packs Right page: Exterior view Allpress Roastery& Cafe Photo ©Agnese Sanvito


ALLPRESS The rise in coffee specialists is far from a new trend. The time when Britain’s public pronounced expresso ‘expresso’ has long-since passed, with at least half the population considering themselves clued up, if not bonafide self-taught experts, in the field of grinding and ground beans. Don’t think this means the industry has nothing new to offer, mind, and that’s not a reference to fresh flavours or methods. Allpress have been obsessing over the perfect blend for decades, specialising in both wholesale distribution of coffee, and imparting knowledge and expertise on other businesses equally concerned with making money from cup after cup of pure caffeinated heaven. Founded by Michael Allpress in New Zealand, circa 1986, the business has grown dramatically but organically since then, branching out to incorporate a UK base- Allpress Roastery & Cafe, opening in Shoreditch, London, in 2010. Skip forward another four years, and further expansion led to the requirement of a second home in the English capital, on nearby Dalston Lane. And it’s these premises- an old joinery renovated sympathetically to accentuate its period features- that truly reflect the pride in product, and forward thinking perspective of the firm.



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Above: Tony Papas, Allpress Company Director: Photo ©Agnese Sanvito

The address combines public and private, business-to-business and consumer assets in a way that represents the brand perfectly. Keen to share their love of good coffee, and the secrets to a perfect blend, staff working for the company inhabit an open plan office area, wholesale customers can come and learn about technique whilst finalising orders in the shadow of a stunning roasting machine. Meanwhile, thirsty lay-folk are invited to take a table in the cafeteria, or, weather permitting, on the outdoor terrace. Put simply, every aspect of the firm’s business is very much on display. We can see the various stages of the process, nodding to the production of coffee itself- from seed to harvest, buyer to end consumer.



“When people come here we love them to experience what happens with the roaster, the green beans coming in, raw materials arriving in hessian bags. It’s quite beautiful really,” explains Tony Papas, who joined his friend, Allpress, in 1999, when the Sydney branch launched. “I think our customers are really savvy. They know what tastes good, and at the end of the day that’s what matters. It’s a shift we’ve seen everywhere- New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK. People want coffee to be prepared well, and we want to show how that happens. It requires skill, expertise, and effort, and a passion for the trade. We make sure our customers understand this... which makes sure every cup is a magic cup.”

Image: Office space located above the Allpress roastery & cafe with stunning USM modular furniture



Architects of Rosslyn

Music and Soundscapes



Mandy Wigby & Howie Jacobs Design Exchange: What do you do? “We began working together recognising a shared interest in using music with other media and art forms including circus, theatre, fireworks, and dance. Combining our skills in instrumental playing, sound, music production, and composition across many genres, we have been able to develop our music and creative responses in a variety of situations, from film and television, to live performance.”

Design Exchange: What are you working on in your studio? “This is some of the equipment used for our recent Delia Derbyshire commission. Delia Derbyshire was a groundbreaking, electronic music pioneer who realised the Dr Who theme whilst working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Inspired by Delia’s archive we created and performed an acoustic and electronic soundtrack to six films by artist Di Mainstone. Howie used bass clarinet and percussion, whilst I had keyboards, electronics and the cube weevil which you can see in the photo. We both played Cuban cajons to incorporate rhythms we’d learnt in Havana and also the wonderful waterphone that you can also see in the bottom picture on the left.”



Body Architect #FUTUREFORECASTERS @lucy_mcrae

Lucy McRae Design Exchange: What do you do? “I study and explore the human condition using science fiction as a tool to better understand the body. I naturally gravitate towards using storytelling to merge biotech, beauty, theatre, performance and science. The potency of the body and how we could test the limits of it.”

Design Exchange: What are you working on in your studio? “These are props from a film that I’ve been working on recently which explores the potential of using isolation as a way of remapping the brain. If we are able to face the unknown by putting ourselves in extreme situations, how can we better prepare ourselves for the unexpected events we may encounter in the everyday?”



Amanda McDonald Crowley

Cultural Worker and Curator



Design Exchange: What do you do? “I am a cultural worker and curator, and I work with contemporary artists. Sometimes this means that I make exhibitions, as one might expect, but just as often I will develop artist residency programmes, arrange design and build workshops that involve people from all walks of life (including artists), or convene conferences, festivals or symposia (and in the ancient Greek tradition, I do prefer that these be philosophical conversations over wine, often after a meal!). I like to say that where artists make artworks, I make situations that provide them with a context to do just that.”

Design Exchange: What are you working on in your studio? “Here I am working on a project with the artist Mary Mattingly, so the photo is actually in her studio, not my studio. The project is called Swale, and it will be a public floating food forest in New York City. People are able to visit a barge growing edible plants. I’m developing public programmes at the various locations that we dock on in the waterways around NYC so people can come onto the “island” and make art, or even harvest food. There is a scale model/ prototype of the “floating island” on the desk, and we’re in the process of doing a crowd-funding campaign, that’s what you can see on my computer screen.”



Book Design #FUTUREFORECASTERS @lizziebdesign

Lizzie Ballantyne Design Exchange: What do you do? “I layout the words and images to give visual shape and form to the book. After careful consideration of the content, I work with authors and editors to best tell the story and bring their ideas to life. My work has given me the opportunity to collaborate with artists, architects, chefs, wine experts, museum curators, designers, historians, illustrators, photographers, musicians and poets. One of my favourite experiences was working on a book celebrating the work of photographer Elsbeth Juda. Elsbeth was nearly 100 years old when I first met her, and she was still a bright and lively character who was thoroughly engaged with all aspects of the book. It gave me great pleasure to revisit her work a few years later with The Ambassador Magazine by V&A Publishing.”

Design Exchange: What are you working on in your studio? “This book is a haunting but beautiful collaboration between the musician and poet PJ Harvey and photographer Seamus Murphy. Together, they traveled through Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC in order to collect a new body of words and pictures. My design incorporated a variety of hand-rendered printing techniques to reflect the very physical nature of the book’s genesis.”



Marshmallow Laser Feast Directors Barnaby Steel, Robin McNicholas and Ersin Han

Interactive, Real-Time, Magical Experiences @marshmallowlf

Design Exchange: What do you do?

#FUTUREFORECASTERS Photo ©Agnese Sanvito

“Marshmallow Laser Feast is a London based creative design studio working at the intersection of technology, art and science and always looking to create groundbreaking experiences that immerse and amaze in completely unexpected ways. We employ a wealth of creative disciplines, from photo-real virtual reality to robotic performance and realtime mapping, pushing boundaries, redefining expectations and exciting audiences worldwide.”

Design Exchange: What are you working on in your studio? “In the picture we are working on Treehugger, which is the world’s first virtual reality experience [VR] aimed at reconnecting humans to nature and shifting mindsets from consumerism to conservation. Through a huge replica model of a giant sequoia tree and a Vive VR headset, Treehugger lets the viewer experience the scale and wonder of what is arguably the largest living individual organism on earth. The longer you hug, the deeper you drift into a hidden world just beyond the limits of your senses. You discover the tree’s hidden inner structure: grooves in the bark become giant cliffs, pine cones feel like the Sydney Opera House. Those who continue hugging are sucked into ‘tree time’ where they experience neuron-like energy flows in the treetop canopy. Look down to get vertigo, look up to experience the wonder of complex energy flows reaching high into top branches.”




Belleville Chair, Belleville Table Developed by Vitra in Switzerland Design: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec Go to to find Vitra retail partners in your area.

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Design Exchange #FutureForecast  

Design Exchange is the world’s first interactive magazine of the future using augmented reality and video content to enhance our award winni...