Intermediate 10 Chiyan Ho, Intermediate 10 (2015-16), coda-object - a test series of questionable dummy eggs, how two seemingly different logics may or may not come together...


Valentin Bontjes van Beek, Winston Hampel

In the opening lines of his unfinished novel Amerika, Franz Kafka describes a view of New York harbour seen through the eyes of his protagonist, a 16-year-old immigrant named Karl Rossmann recently 'packed off to America by his parents because a servant girl had seduced him and got herself a child by him'. From the deck of the ocean liner the disgraced boy watches as the clouds part and 'a sudden burst of sunshine seemed to illumine the Statue of Liberty, so that he saw it in a new light, although he had sighted it long before'. The gap that opens fills not only with sunlight but with his own dreams of what the alleged land of opportunity can offer.

Similar to this chance break in the clouds, the urban fabric is full of its own rifts and slots. These irregular spaces project more than void. By definition the slot is a place of reception with the almost prophetic potential for delivery into a hungry, predestined something. The term equally describes immaterial segments - time or landing slots. In either case the slot invites unique inhabitation: to address it is to initiate an act of design. When the penny is dropped into the coin slot, a larger process comes into play, a chain reaction occurs.

Like Kafka's stream of sunlight, slots open up narrow zones of potential across the city. This year Intermediate 10 continues its exploration of London's context by focusing on the openings - the slots - that exist within the tightly knitted metropolis. From the narrow gaps between buildings, to the letterbox plate on a door, to the vast bombsites left by the war to be filled, London's niches are the target and catalyst for architectural manifestations that are composed and sedimented, additive and subtractive, substantial, superficial, ordinary, fantastical, well-tempered, furious - and nothing to be afraid of. Just a charge of opportunity and delicious speculation.

Unit Staff

Valentin Bontjes van Beek runs vbvb studio in London and has taught at the AA since 2001. He trained in Germany as a carpenter and worked as an architect in New York with Bernard Tschumi and Raimund Abraham before returning to London to practise and teach. A recent commission, the reconstruction of a 1:1 scale model of the IBM Ovoid Theatre, originally designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the 1964 World's Fair, was on display as part of the 'The World of Charles and Ray Eames' exhibition at the Barbican.

Winston Hampel studied architecture and design in Hamburg, Paris and Stuttgart, where he received his diploma, before graduating from the History & Critical Thinking programme at the AA. He has recently taught in the AA First Year Studio, History and Theory Studies and in the DRL. Having worked for practices in Germany and France, he is now in a collaborative practice based between Munich and London.


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