Peter Dormer Lecture 2018, Royal College of Art

December 2018

Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald give the Peter Dormer Lecture 2018.

The Peter Dormer Lecture is the UK’s major annual applied arts lecture, held in memory of the writer and critic who died in 1996. Organised by a committee of his friends and colleagues and hosted by the Royal College of Art, the lecture aims to continue the debate about applied art and society that was central to Dormer’s concerns.

The work of 6a architects is deeply engaged in the material traditions buried in the layers of the city. At other times it appropriates the apparent expedience of contemporary commercial construction but, perhaps more often than not, the work emerges out of a form of bricolage that draws on many different skills, technologies and materials. They are however always concerned with the nature of making, whether wood, concrete or silicone. Tom and Stephanie will attempt to describe a contemporary understanding of craft through scribes and squares, two loose categories of making that define our age and how craft may remain a useful, even progressive force within it.

Openings, Serralves Museum in Porto

October 2018

‘Conversations with the Álvaro Siza Archive’ is a new series of exhibitions aimed at placing the work of Álvaro Siza in dialogue with some of the most relevant contemporary architectural practices. Invited to act as guest curator for each individual exhibition, an architect is asked to select materials from the Álvaro Siza Archive and present them in connection to his/her own work. Tom Emerson, of London-based practice 6a architects, will be the first guest curator in the series. 

Openings play a very special role in the history of architecture and in the life of an architect. Openings are all the holes cut into constructed volumes for the passage of people, light and air. Mostly these are managed by doors and windows. They are in many respects the most active and useful of architectural elements, constantly opening and closing to allow the necessities of life to pass from outside to inside while excluding the perils we wish to avoid. Doors and windows have to be robust to withstand extremes of climate and use over decades, even centuries. Yet they are also the site of our most intimate encounter with architecture, the first touch of the building as you enter and the last as you leave. The opening of the window starts the daily exchange between our private selves and the world beyond, which is why openings occupy such an important part of the architect’s imaginative and technical effort. Openings reveal the most profound relationships between an individual and society.

The construction detail drawings presented in the exhibition have been selected from a collection of over 6,000 drawings in the Álvaro Siza Archive held at the Serralves Foundation. They chart the evolution of Siza’s architecture from 1954 to the mid-1970s. Focusing on the first two decades of the architect’s long career, the exhibition not only provides an opportunity to examine some important, even if lesser known, early projects, but it also intersects political and architectural developments which were to fundamentally change Portugal and Siza’s work after the 1974 Revolution.

The exhibition, organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, is curated by Tom Emerson in conversation with Carles Muro, Adjunct Curator for Architecture Programmes at the Serralves Museum.

Runs until 27 January

Trees Down Here

October 2018

6a architects and mubi co-produced a short film by artist Ben Rivers reflecting on the natural history of Cowan Court, Churchill College Cambridge for La Biennale di Venezia 2018. Since opening in May, it has been shown at several film festivals including Toronto, New York and the London Film Festival in October this year.

Shot on 16mm, the 14 minute film playfully captures the delicate balance not just between past design and innovation, but also between buildings humans, animals and their shared environment.

The film will be available for 30 days from 23 October.

44 Low Resolution Houses, Princeton

September 2018

6a architects' Tree House is featured in an exhibition of 44 houses at the Princeton School of Architecture.

Coastal House wins a RIBA National Architectural Award

July 2018

Coastal House, Devon has won a National RIBA Award and has also been long listed for the House of the Year Award. It will be featured on Grand Designs, airing in November, alongside Black Stone Building.

6a's Firestation Crowdfund for South London Gallery 

June 2018

In its final days, the Artfund campaign for the SLG is seeking to raise £25,000. 60% within reaching its goal, the critical days will allow for the gallery to house amazing initiatives such as: an artist residency studio, education space and community kitchen alongside new gallery spaces and archive.

In return for helping out, there are various rewards based on donations ranging from tea towels, framed prints of the fire station to guided tours with the artist Ryan Gander or dinner with Oscar Murillo.

Click here to donate today.

Trees Down Here opens at the Venice Biennale

May 2018

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” - Greek Proverb quoted in the freespace manifesto.

6a architects is pleased to exhibit amongst freespace at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, with the display of Trees Down Here, a film by artist Ben Rivers, co-produced by 6a architects and mubi.

In this short film of Cowan Court, which was completed by 6a architects in late 2016, Rivers has turned his camera onto the interactions between architecture and landscape within which the students of Churchill College, University of Cambridge live and work. 

Cowan Court was the first complete court to be built at Churchill College since the college was opened to students in 1960. The foundational oak planted by Sir Winston Churchill in 1959 started a landscape which has grown alongside and within the original brutalist courts. 

Trees are the silent characters in Rivers’ film, narrating the architecture and life of Churchill College through its natural history. 6a’s Cowan Court inverted the spatial and material order of the picturesque Brutalism of the original college, shifting its mineral world of brick and shuttered concrete to timber. Cowan Court’s oak, both new and old, defines its structure and in turn encloses a central court filled with recently planted birch trees. The analogue materiality of Churchill College is matched by Rivers’ use of 16mm film which, like the architecture and landscape, leaves traces of its own development.

The human habitat is seen through nature – swaying trees, lost animals, birds of prey, the seasons – to create a new dreamlike environment in which any distinction between human life, architecture and nature is erased. 

Accompanying the film are three Club Benches (designed 1962, reproduced by Loft) by the influential British designer Robin Day who, with his wife Lucienne Day, designed the furniture and fittings for Churchill College.

The project is supported by the British Council, Viabizzuno and Loft Furniture.

'Kanal Brut' Centre Pompidou Brussels

6a has collaborated with architecten de vylder vinck taillieu and AgwA architectes on the prestigious Kanal Centre Pompidou competition. Entries considered the transformation of the iconic Citroën garage into a large-scale arts and cultural centre for international exhibitions. ‘Kanal’ will host the Centre Pompidou Brussels and the CIVA architecture centrum. 

Selected to participate in the competition from 92 candidates, the 6a team’s entry is entitled ‘CIT’ and is currently exhibited at the Citroën Showroom, in the CIVA-curated exhibition ‘As Found – Prospective Heritage‘. The exhibition is part of ‘Kanal Brut’, the temporary opening of the cultural centre in the former Citroën garage, which will run for the next 13 months.

Major Boost to St Ann's Redevelopment Trust

May 2018

London’s Mayor Sadiq Kahn has given a major boost to St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART) with the acquisition of St Ann’s Hospital site in the first use of the mayor’s £250 million Land Fund. 6a and Maccreanor Lavington have been working with StART since 2015 to realise up to 900 genuinely affordable homes on the site.

Rupert Street, Melbourne

6a architects has been commissioned by Molonglo Group to design the masterplan and buildings for 81–89 Rupert Street in Collingwood, Melbourne. The site currently contains two conjoined warehouses and is home to Vice, the global youth media company and digital content creation studio, and Schoolhouse Studios, an artist community supported by Molonglo Group through rental subsidies.
Rupert Street will have a continued life as a place for work, congregation and collaboration; with a diverse mix of uses, likely to incorporate a hotel, creative co-working, retail, social and cultural spaces. Rupert Street will provide an opportunity for unexpected connections that nurture creativity and sustainability and will be an ongoing place for rich cultural and social programs and activities.

Photograph by Will Neill ©Molonglo Group 2018.

Black Stone House wins RIBA London Award 2018

May 2018

Black Stone House has won an riba London Award 2018 and will now be considered for an riba National Award which will be announced in July 2018.

Coastal House wins two RIBA South West Awards 2018

May 2018

Coastal House was awarded a RIBA South West Regional Award and the RIBA South West Conservation Award 2018. Stripped back to bare its thick stone walls, with externally insulated slate-clad facades, this early-twentieth century house has seen a complete reconfiguration of its internal volumes and a transformation of the visual and physical connections with the surrounding coastal landscape. The awards follow Coastal House’s success as overall winner of the annual Wood Awards in November 2017.

7 Architects in Practice

6a is publishing a series of fortnightly articles for Studio Nicholson. Seven women from the practice will share their thoughts on architecture, 6a’s design processes and personal influences. Covering topics from the overlooked Finnish architect Aino Aalto to recipes for lime render the series will conclude in Autumn 2018.

Tall Buildings: Their Problems and Some Ideas, Symposium

March 2018

Stephanie Macdonald and Sofia von Ellrichshausen have co-curated and led a half-day symposium at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of Melbourne Design Week. Titled Tall Buildings: Their Problems and Some Ideas the symposium  investigated new approaches to vertical buildings. 

The symposium follows 6a's commission by Molonglo Group to design the masterplan and buildings for 81–89 Rupert Street in Collingwood, Melbourne. 

Photograph by Will Neill ©Molonglo Group 2018.

Women in Architecture Awards 2018

January 2018

Stephanie Macdonald has been nominated for Women in Architecture Award 2018. The Women in Architecture Awards, in association with The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal, are in place to inspire change in the architectural profession by celebrating great design by women architects from around the world and promoting role models for young women in practice. The winners of  aj/ar Women in Architecture will be announced in London on Friday 2 March.

In Conversation: Tom Emerson and Mark Rappolt on ‘Monika Sosnowska. Structural Exercises’, Hauser & Wirth London

January 2018

Tom Emerson, will be in conversation with Mark Rappolt, editor-in-chief of Art Review on the occasion of the exhibition Monika Sosnowska. Structural Exercises, at Hauser & Wirth, London. The discussion will explore the intersection of art and architecture in Sosnowska’s exhibition. 

23 January, 7pm

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize 2018

January 2018

Tom Emerson has been awarded the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize 2018 in Zürich.

The literary prize commemorating the Swiss poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer has been awarded annually since 1938 for outstanding cultural achievements in the canton of Zürich.

Emerson has been Professor of Architecture at ETH Zürich since 2010 and has been awarded the prize for collaborative work realised with students in the city of Zürich including the Pavilion of Reflections, a floating arts pavilion for Manifesta 11 (2016), which attracted over 100,000 visitors and the Belvedere Zollikon, a green oak staircase enabling views across Lake Zürich completed in 2013.

Emerson is only the second architect to be awarded the prize since the architect turned novelist Max Frisch won in 1938. The prize has historically largely been received by Swiss writers, journalists, academics and visual artist. 

The other winners are the linguist Dr Simone E. Pfenninger, for her research on second language acquisition at the University of Zürich, and the author Dorothee Elmiger for her novels Invitation to the daredevils and Sleepers.

El Croquis

January 2018

Spanish publisher El Croquis has produced a new monograph dedicated to 6a architects covering projects between 2009 and 2017 including Raven Row, South London Gallery, Cowan Court, Churchill College Cambridge, the Studio for Juergen Teller and several new projects. The monographs also includes interviews with Thomas Weaver, editor of AA Files and Martino Stierli, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

El Croquis is available at the AA Bookshop and the RIBA Bookshop in London or online from the publisher.