25 September 2013
Architectural Association, London
This summer, Unit 2 built an ark based on the boat that was built for the salvation of the prophet Noah, his family and pairs of every type of animal, to shelter them from the biblical flood and later re-populate the earth with their offspring.
The tale of Noah’s ark is a cycle of creation, un-creation and re-creation. London’s Ark followed a similar cycle as it travelled to different cultures to collect and import cultural ways of dealing with water. Rather than paired animals we worked in pairs to pair London with various other cultures in order to learn from, and transform the way the city engages with water. This has become London’s Ark-itecture.
Travelling along the Amazon river, to the Maldives and Lebanon, the ark passed through the Asian waters with their dispersed lanterns and studied different purification processes along the way. Appropriating the Native American water drums alongside the Chinese framed views, the ark collected a variety of objects, materials and events to populate its wooden framework.The resulting rooms then travelled back to London to unfold and create new realities within the city to better engage with its watery shores.
As journey of the ark came to an end, for this summer at least, we looked back at an incredible and inspiring three weeks of unit bonding, debating, constructing, destructing, camouflaging, travelling, visiting, making, photographing and presenting.
The ark remains to be a collector of identity and culture. Its gridded structure can continue to expand upwards and outwards to contain more and more rooms of activity and inhabitation as it travels from place to place. Just as the age-old story of Noah’s ark has survived through the ages, we hope the lessons learnt and stories told, the research, rooms and images as well as the pairs we worked within, will stay with us, as memories, for a long time to come.
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Elena has worked at Squire and Partners in London since graduating from the AA. She previously studied Architecture and Urbanism in Mexico City. She is interested in the city as a project.
Maddie is a recent graduate of the AA. She has a Masters degree in Structural Engineering and Architecture from Sheffield University. She was awarded the KPF Traveling Fellowship, exploring cross-cultural exchange along The Silk Road through Central Asia.
Manijeh is an AA graduate with a previous degree in Architecture and Mathematics. She currently teaches Intermediate Unit 11 at the AA, is the Salon co-ordinator at Disegno magazine and is the editor and founder of AA Conversations.