The &rchitecture Atelier is based on the principle of ‘Starting from Difference’ and adopts a range of strategies which challenge students to consider and explore landscapes from multiple points of view, encompassing both their diverse animal and plant communities as well as human user groups. Our approach is ‘ecosystemic’, in that it begins from an understanding of the complex webs of social and ecological interactions which landscapes both reflect and stage. Design is considered more as a seed, catalyst or virus than a formal outcome, and students are encouraged to explore potential scenarios rather than the imposition of a deterministic end product.
This year, students have explored the entangled relationships between waterways and their urban context, under the theme of ‘Invisible Rivers’. Specifically, they looked at the Medlock, one of the rivers which drove Manchester’s development into an industrial powerhouse. From this starting point students developed individual projects based on their own readings of conditions identified along the river corridor. These included: explorations of complexity and emergence theory, phyto and myco remediation, rural modernism, constructed wetlands, slavery and the black liberation struggle, urban foodscapes and revealing time and history.