‘Creation from Catastrophe’ – Exhibition Review

Disasters can allow for opportunities, opportunities for cities to respond to natural threats or to simply re-erect the city they once knew. The ‘Creation from Catastrophe’ exhibition takes you on a story from the devastating great fire of London in 1666 to the the 18th Century, 19th Century ending in the present with the natural disasters occurring over Japan, Pakistan and Nepal.

Visitors enter the exhibition into a plain white façade of which visualises the catastrophic evidence from the great fire of London. Images and descriptions show the craze to re-build a new formation, by means of floor plans and architectural sketches. The exhibition takes you back to the reformation of London and the manic rush to make a decision on how the future entails the city. An inclined textural cork passage way leads you to the second room which shows how London strived for influence from other cities, like the first high rise school in Chicago after their great fire or the earthquake resolution in Lisbon in 1750. Some felt that plans had been discussed previously and were already being erected when the flames were still burning. London grasped hold of the idea to widen the streets however, plans became hard to fully control as people were taking it upon themselves to re-build on their previous land.

Still among the atmospheric cork passage you end in a room that over looks the past you have just been immersed in and allows for greater understanding of the natural disasters that can occur with no warning that happen regularly in many countries. Whether the disaster is from a natural cause or man-made, it still devastates the city. This last room shows you how communities and architects have to deal with countless destruction. This last room really caught my attention showing how architects and the community compliments each other to re-structure the city to minimise the excessiveness of the destruction. Through images, models and video footage the exhibition takes you through a timeline of events from the devastation to the reformation.

In order to minimise the chances of further problems the architect responds to Japan’s Tsunami threats with an urban solution. A solution that places the city further back with a forest causing a partition between the water and the city, if future tsunami’s hit the main volume and hit of water will be absorbed throughout the forest. Urban architecture is an up and coming design idea. With weather being more and more unpredictable and flooding becoming more evolving over the country. Precautions need to be made to ensure that buildings can become sustainable through out these changes. London is increasingly running out of housing space. There are many large at flood risk areas of which London is looking to scope towards, with clever architectural plans and design manipulation they plan to adapt and modify a home to adjust the average floor level with the rise in water.


Artichoke’s take on Participatory Design


Large amounts of designer’s forget or rather disagree with the reasoning’s behind participatory design. A large amount of focus is on achieving the clients goal, of which may not involve the community. Participatory design is a method used to work with the community in order to teach or deliver something back to them. Often these projects are non-profitable but achieve much more than any emotion or effect money can bring. Artichoke is a self funded company founded by Helen Marriage and Nicky Webb, they curate ideas and approach specific designers to develop their proposed vision. Artichoke flee to the streets to enthusiastically grab the attention of the general public, appeal to those that believe they have no interest in art. Art is commonly thought to only be perceived within the 4 walls of a museum, most feel if they don’t understand the art and the basis of the design, that they just don’t get it. Realistically not everyone does, even those art enthusiasts sometimes won’t understand or visualise what the artist is trying to imply, and truthfully this doesn’t matter, it’s about your own interpretation. Artichoke have visited many cities, ranging from; Northern Island, Durham to London the city we are all most familiar with. Each show is individual to itself and is always influenced from the history and political background of the city and the surrounding environment. They extend to the architecture as their performance stage, reflecting artists work onto the elegant objects of the City. The show fully encapsulates the community within the city, they are designed to change the memories and experience of familiar spaces to allow excitement and joy. The projects also reach out to involve the general public within the art itself. In Northern Island they worked with primary schools to develop pieces of art work and attempt to minimise the segregation between the schools. During the burning of the bonfire the community were encouraged to bring items or memories that they wished to burn within the spectacular wooden cathedral. The Lumiere 2009 that took place in Durham Is an amazing show that encapsulates the mystical beauty of the city. The light show varied in style artwork from magnificent fire displays to projections of Images of the Lindisfarne Gospels artwork among the architectural face of the cathedral.  Each show expresses different styles and emotions, artwork varies across the city. Artichoke partner with other artists and form many collaborations within the company. This allows them to Implement all their initial thoughts into successful design ideas. The idea of community design projects creates a great aspect of the design world, they are self funded projects that create activities and creative ideas among mostly unused spaces. Participatory design gives opportunities to many and become a great aspect of the community. Artichoke (2016)


Artichoke. (2016) Available at: http://www.artichoke.uk.com/ (Accessed: 10 February 2016)


Sustainable Design

Ergonomically designed products can be of somewhat challenging to achieve, the simplistic approach to succeed what you want from that product can be very successful.In the 1970’s Dietar Rams a well associated designer set out to outline the principles of design in order to supply a set of guidelines of which will allow the designs to be measured in a finite way.

He states that good design is;

Innovative– Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. Innovative technology and innovative design work in tandem together and will never be paired by itself.

Makes a product useful– A product needs to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product.

Aesthetically pleasing– The aesthetic quality of a product Is integral to it’s usefulness. “But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Makes a product understandable– When a product is self-explanatory it clarifies the product’s structure.

Unobtrusive– Designs should be neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression. Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools.

Honest– The product fulfils it’s purpose, It does not manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

Long-lasting– It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated.

Thorough down to the last details– Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance, Accuracy during the design process shows respect towards the user.

Environmentally friendly– Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment, It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution.

As little design as possible– Refers to the theory of “Less is more” (Bauhaus) Designs concentrate on the essential aspects and are not burdened with non-essentials.

Dietar Rams designs were highly ergonomically pleasing, He focused on the ease and sufficiency of his designs that appealed to the common user. A common theme of his designs were for functionality and simplicity. His products consisted of the highest ergonomic value, referring to how function elaborates over form.

The basic shape and stylistic approach can be thought as replicated into apple’s designs. Take the basic Ipod and compare it to the Dietar Rams pocket radio for Braun. The Similarities are un-canny. But when you think about the principles of the design, the positioning of the dial, you realise how much they make sense. The mechanisms and layouts offer the consumer easy accessibility. Apple take the theory of function over form and add aesthetic details to allow for the needs of society today. They have created a brand of simplicity and elegance from the initial influence of Dietar.