OSA Review: 6A Architects, OxArch Reconstruction Lecture
6A is a practice best known for its contemporary art galleries, educational buildings, artists’ studios and residential projects, often in sensitive historic environments. During their OxArch talk they covered two of their projects, the coastal house (2017) and a photography studio for Juergen Teller (2016). These projects dealt with two very different settings and for unusual purposes, however a clear methodology was used to design them.
The coastal house is set in Devon on a protected landscape. 6A came to this project through the landscape designer Dan Pearson, who had been working on the project for 5 years. During the lecture we explored the landscape using photography, a research technique often used by the studio. The farm complex had been converted into accommodation for gardeners and artists in residence, and the final building to be designed was the main house. The existing house was old but not particularly attractive, and so it was hard to see an alternative to knocking it down and starting again. This was the avenue 6A initially went down using model making to experiment with form and layouts. However, it was very hard to accept demolishing the half metre thick walls of the original building. Using the spaces they had designed in model, they reconnected their design to the original building, extending the openings to the ground and reconnecting the building to the garden. The outcome of this design process was a building which makes the most of the original structure and the surrounding landscape.
The Juergen Teller project in contrast was set in an urban landscape. The project was designed for the photographer Juergen Teller and needed to balance his private home and work studios (even though these lines were often blurred). The 60m long narrow plot mixed the inside and out as it became progressively more private towards the back. This enabled the final design to incorporate small parts of the site in the final design, capturing them and realising their potential. The spaces in the building all have different qualities, which allows for Juergen to decide where to photograph; this house is often seen in much of his work. Once again photography was important to document the site and understand how it would be seen through a camera lens. Juergen documented the construction process with a series of portraits and continues to photograph it as his studio which gave 6A an unusual opportunity to see the project in the user’s perspective and continue to watch the building develop.
Overall, 6A studio have a unique approach to sensitive and unusual sites combining photography and modelmaking to develop complex designs.