Diploma 13 Jiwon Lee, Marigold House, 2016-17

Sick City Rehab

Lily Jencks, Jessica Reynolds, Alex Butterworth

The health of our civilisation is defined by how we institutionalise care and look after those in need. Diploma 13 calls for the urgent application of both formal, clinical abstraction and pleasurable, bodily atmosphere in architecture to interrogate the relationship between the body and the institution, and resuscitate our democracies.

Following three years of research into the NHS, the unit will now widen its scope beyond the UK to research health in other parts of the world. We will learn from and act inside other cultures, as we review the wide-reaching histories, rituals, policies, laws, infrastructures, institutions, economies and typologies of healthcare systems elsewhere. From the Hippocratic Oath and the healing powers of the temple at Epidaurus, to Cuba's preventative healthcare model with home visits by lifelong family doctors, to the Trump Administration's attempts to undo the Affordable Healthcare Act in the USA - the unit will question what it means to be healthy and to care for people in the contemporary city.

Addressing the most private parts of your body and the most public image of care, we will investigate problems of literal and political transparency and test forms of care across three scales: urban, architectural and detail. Rather than focusing on points of treatment such as hospitals, clinics and surgeries, our sites of interest will be potential spaces of preventative care. Working first at the scale of urban infrastructure - from housing to rivers to forests - students will intervene with a family of types that promote health in the city in unexpected ways and question existing relationships between bodies and public space. Next, by using the lens of the body, we will develop a sensuous and witty materiality in the architectural detail, emphasising its atmospheric effects. We seek an architecture so sensuous that you lean in for a kiss, as Sylvia Lavin suggests, "extending and intensifying architectural effects through the short-term borrowing of the partner medium's flavour". From these two scales of operation - the plan and the kiss - will emerge institutions of promiscuity and plurality that can help care for our sick cities.

Unit Staff

Lily Jencks is the founder of JencksSquared and LilyJencksStudio, which looks at how content-driven forms can create strong identities for meaningful public interaction through architecture, landscape and interior projects in the UK and abroad. She studied at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Jessica Reynolds is a director at London-based vPPR Architects, which creates housing and cultural projects with a focus on communal space. She is a co-founder of the Architecture Exchange. She studied at Cambridge University and Princeton University.

Alex Butterworth graduated from the AA in 2016 and now works at 6a architects. She is also a graduate of the University of Cambridge.


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