Intermediate 3 Erik Hoffmann, The Living Roof - a technological emancipation for Jakarta?s urban Kampung. The design uses film and local vernacular to craft a new future for the area.

Self-Fulfilling Fictions

Nannette Jackowski and Ricardo de Ostos

"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot. -Neil Gaiman, The Sandman"

Narrative structures have often been used to mould collective dreams, lifestyles, communities and cities. Both the myth of a better future and the nostalgia of the glorious past exist as devices that help us think about and design our built environment. In land disputes across the world past and future are presented in tension with each other. But the fight between progress and tradition is not the only thing at stake. Across forests, rural grounds and the outskirts of cities lies the possibility to shape a radical alternative to our dominant consumerist culture. Could mythologies be used to shape a progressive form of future living - What would that space be like? Could mythical land and its vernacular tradition shape a new chronology of rituals and social practices?

Intermediate 3 studies how the past and the future influence, and are influenced by, forces of context and accelerating technological innovation. In more concrete terms, this year we will investigate the role of fiction - specifically time-based storytelling - to reveal the liminal borders of city and nature.

Within this fluid territory we construct worlds that are not only visionary but also part of real contexts - architectures of voluptuous forests, emerging crystal cities, primal rituals and technological mantras. We will utilise film and animation to bring our ideas to life and, in a more haptic sense, we will produce rich compositions, models and props to understand how the complex ecology of digital realities and physical realms overlap. The unit will provide technical and theoretical workshops, lectures and group conversations on fiction, the city and nature, context and architecture imagination.

On this journey fiction is not a denial of reality but its multiplier. Will these fictions ever be fulfilled? Could they be pushed far enough to become reality? If yes, then we may call them self-fulfilling fictions.

Unit Staff

Nannette Jackowski and Ricardo de Ostos are principals of NaJa & deOstos. They are the authors of The Hanging Cemetery of Baghdad, Pamphlet Architecture 29: Ambiguous Spaces and Scavengers and Other Creatures in Promised Lands (AA Publications, 2017). In 2012 they were nominated for the Iakov Chernikhov prize for young architects around the world. Nannette has worked for Wilkinson Eyre and Zaha Hadid. Ricardo has worked for Peter Cook, Future Systems and Foster + Partners. He has taught at Lund University in Sweden and was an associate professor at École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris.


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Prospectus 2017-18
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Undergraduate Course Booklet


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