Second year and last year of my masters means thesis project! To start our thesis projects, our class got divided into five different platforms; matter, urbanism, display, systems, and obsolescence. Each platform has its own brief. Each brief is designed to be a provocation. They are designed to challenge our thoughts and allow us to engage with exploring a distinctive aspect of the design of interior space by creating our own thesis project out of each brief. 

We needed to give a top 5 of the platforms and in the end of the day we were informed in which platform we ended up. I was really happy because I got into platform Matter which was my top choice [Symbool]! We are 5 students in our platform and it is led by the founders of the design studio Studio Alt ShiftShai Akram & Andrew Haythornthwaite. 

The Matter Brief – 

Project: Context  

This platform calls for a fully embodied design process in which knowledge and experience are entirely assimilated within the imagined environment and are returned through material and encounter. The outcomes will be 1:1 scale, built to amplify a particular action or sensation.  

Design education largely focuses on the skills to imagine activities in a space and communicate those visually so that others can imagine it too. This platform focuses on experiencing first-hand the spaces you imagine – constructed and tested at real scale.  

We regard the building process as a performance/ experience that is equally rich as the built outcome. Material choice and construction methods are inextricably linked to a physical functional layout and the ideas that drive the project.  

The capacity to rethink, reinvent, co-opt and integrate existing processes into new contexts is an activity that requires active participation. David Pye wrote that the difference between craft and design is that craft seeks to flawlessly repeat whereas design seeks to find unknown possibilities.  

Model making, drawing and prototyping are vital skills to develop as a means to visualise and evaluate ideas. These skills allow ideas to become physical and by doing so the abstract findings of experiments and theory can find a tangible outcome / application.  

Final projects will be unexpected and extraordinary spaces – solutions that are driven by the unique parameters of each student brief - possibilities include a pavilion, a landmark, a set for a performance, a public engagement installation, a workplace of the future or a living space. The outcomes will be 1:1 scale environments/ installations that can be physically experienced- resulting in a series of site-specific objects, experiences, interventions and narratives.  

Project: Amplifiers  

We look closely at the connection between experience, material and space, and translate this relationship into a physical, experience-able outcome. The programme will ask you to deeply consider the effect of material on a space and to become fully conversant with your material palette, exerting complete control and mastery of construction.  

The Amplifiers are all about themselves and their site. They are interventions that are a kind of theatre – bringing a particular idea to focus sharply, they are specific and non-generic. There are many parallels between this project and the convention of a pavilion. Pavilions are commonly considered to be a building or similar structure used for a specific purpose. The Amplifiers go one step further and aim to heighten awareness of a particular aspect of the site/s- view, sound, smell, temperature, what happens there, etc. There might be one space with a programme of activities or many sites linked by a single idea. These are not mundane everyday space; these are destinations designed to provoke a particular sensation or idea.  

The aims and objectives of this platform are to:  

  • Examine how experience, context and inhabitation can be translated into eloquent spatial proposals through materiality, scale and structure.  

  • Conceptualise design ideas and processes, and rigorously transform them into advanced- level detailed constructions and/or spaces.  

  • Develop a series of built prototypes at 1:1 scale interrogating the physical experience of abstract ideas.  

  • Produce a series of interventions, insertions, installations into carefully considered sites around London, that will reflect and amplify a pre-defined activity / brief.  

  • Communicate your ideas through the appropriate mediums of designed spaces and experiences.