Unit 20 2004/05

Diploma Unit 20 marcosandmarjan
The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Programme 04/05:
Skeens. Hybrids between skins and screens

Skins and screens are two of the most challenging, yet commonly used terms in the architectural jargon, maybe because they stand for what is understood as mostly contemporary and where architecture is undergoing its deepest changes. However, as objectifiable technological phenomena, they are also aesthetic and cultural clichés that risk to deceive and reduce the architectural practice to an increasingly flat, topological-digital, and human-distant reality.

Unit 20 propose SKEENS - a convergent and interactive process between skins and screens:

- Skins embody a wider understanding of walls and membranes in their quality as primary architectural conditions. More than grounded in the historical meaning as rigid boundaries they become soft interfaces for social and physical interaction. These three-dimensional skins imply a sense of depth and thickness that is created by a new materiality of inhabitable spaces.
- Although determined by the flat geometrical nature of digital interfaces, screens convey more intricate spatial attributes than simple line drawings, for they appear spatial in the manifestation of surfaces, volumes and shadows. As sites of convergence of different digital logics and interactions they create twoandahalf-dimensional spaces—formulated circumstances, which require qualitative rather than quantitative data.

Many of the drawings and constructs produced within the unit will be the result of personal design eccentricities (developed through a wide range of media) and conceptual as well as technological resources pervasively found outside the boundaries of the traditional architectural practice. The importance of these relationships lies not just in the speculation of form but also in exploiting the unpredictability of the design process, occupation and the materiality of architecture.

SKEENS will be tested and informed by the cultural context of the People’s Republic of China. The unit will be on the road from Beijing to Shanghai observing the shifts of the country’s rural and urban landscape, simultaneously exploring the contradictions of its old history and recent radical changes.