Diploma 12 Francis Alÿs, Zócalo (detail), Mexico City, May 22, 1999, in collaboration with Rafael Ortega Detail of video projection, colour, sound; 12 hours © Francis Alÿs / Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London

World Building: Scripting Spaces

Inigo Minns and Manijeh Verghese

If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. - Anton Chekhov

Working as detectives Diploma 12 will search for the loaded rifle that will go off in the third act. We will collect examples of worlds within worlds and forensically unpick their underlying and often invisible governing rules to understand how they might unfold over time. We will look at cultural institutions, such as large-scale biannual art fairs, sub-cultural trends of music and fashion, evolving spiritual movements, political or economic experiments in alternative social models and emerging technological developments. These case studies will serve as catalysts to build worlds of our own that are carefully crafted for future communities, creating visionary architectural models that reflect their precise ideals and dreams.

In the film Zocalo the artist Francis Alÿs charts the movement of the sun across Mexico City's Zocalo Square. Here, the central flagpole shifts from the innocent rifle on the wall to the proverbial smoking gun - as the sun rises higher in the sky the flagpole transforms into a large-scale sundial, altering how the space is performed as people take refuge in its diagonal shadow. Similarly, the unit will work with existing conditions to deploy strategically designed objects and events that test how the architect can enhance or disrupt the hidden scripts, codes, messages and instructions that provoke specific behaviours and influence how spaces are inhabited over time. We will investigate urgent trends and use them to create new architectural visions, define new emerging communities and construct critical propositions - all in an effort to channel the rifle's bullet to hit its target or skim harmlessly past.

Collaborating with filmmakers, magicians, set designers, image capturers and trend forecasters, we will uncover new tools for capturing the elusive, dark-matter scripts to build these worlds. Choreographed scores, animated drawings and cinematic narratives will serve as time-based media for tracking our proposals as they unfold into the near future. Ultimately the goal of Diploma 12 is to sharpen each proposal to achieve the most precise aim, the cleanest trajectory, the greatest impact - to find the best possible weapon to bring about change.

Unit Staff

Inigo Minns works as an architect with storytelling, performance and curation. He exhibits his work internationally and has taught in a range of disciplines both in the UK and abroad.

Manijeh Verghese is a designer interested in communicating architecture through various media and formats. She curates the AA Public Programme, edits the website AA Conversations and teaches a design studio at Oxford Brookes University.


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