DISCOVER Reading – Urban Exploration

How do I encourage playful exploration of area, and why would anyone want to try it?

Previous projects, derive,

But more insidious forces are marshalled against the time, space and will to walk and against the version of humanity that act embodies. One force is the filling-up of what I think of as “the time inbetween,” the time of walking to or from a place, of meandering, of running errands. That time has been deplored as a waste, reduced, and its remainder filled with earphones playing music and mobile phones relaying conversations. The very ability to appreciate this uncluttered time, the uses of the useless, often seems to be evaporating, as does appreciation of being outside–including outside the familiar, mobile-phone conversations seem to serve as a buffer against solitude, silence and encounters with the unknown.

pg xiii

While walking, the body and the mind can work together, so that thinking becomes almost a physical, rhythmic act–so much for the Cartesian mind/body divide. Spirituality and sexuality both enter in; the great walkers often move through both urban and rural places in the same way; and even past and present are brought together when you walk as the ancients did or relive some event in history or your own life by retracing it’s route. And each walk moves through space like a thread through fabric, sewing it together into a continuous experience–so unlike the way air travel chops up time and space and even cars and trains do. This continuity is one of the things I think we lost in the industrial age–but we can choose to reclaim it, again and again, and some do. The fields and streets are waiting.

pg xv

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.

pg 5

Rebecca Solnit (2014) Wanderlust – A History of Walking. 4th edn. Granta Publications.

Michel de Certeau (2002) The Practice of Everyday Life. 8th edn. University of California Press.

Our work takes two routes, architectural competitions, where the particular rigour of the competition brief, site and program provide the basis for new investigations and, conceptual design projects which test out the agenda and methodology of the design research practice. We focus on the dynamic relationship between the natural and the man made and how this can be revealed to enhance the experience of the architectural landscape.