Évènement : Experimental Architecture Award

Created in 1933, the Arts Foundation of London (England) aims to support and promote all types of artistic production, from poetry to painting, through photography. A panel in which the first art did not find until then unfortunately no place. A bygone era since, last month, was awarded the first prize for experimental architecture. Zoom on the valorization of a discipline anchored in its time.

Experimental architecture, quèsaco? This is the question asked by the organizers of the 10 000 £ prize awarded by the Arts Foundation. Difficult to establish a single statement on this part of the discipline as it is subject to debate. When some refer to the 1970 years - and the eponymous book by Peter Cook - others use it as a catch-all term, referring to projects in the original envelope without necessarily having an experimental discourse. . An ambiguous definition with fuzzy outlines that justified the absence of such a price for years. "We really had to struggle with the term" experimental architecture ". What does that mean? " says Justin McGuirk, chief curator of the London Design Museum and price judge. "We quickly established that it does not mean what it could be in the 1970 years [...] It seemed to be more about other possibilities, ranging from virtual spaces and bureaucratic systems to sculptural interventions. " he concluded.
To represent this idea of ​​the experimental architecture, four candidates were put to the vote of a jury of experts - composed of Justin McGuirk but also of the architect Amanda Levete and the director of the Architectural Association's Design Research, Theodore Spyropoulos. With research and the essential consideration of current needs as central discourses, the competitors distinguished themselves with diversified interpretations of architectural and societal problems.


For example, the architect Chris Hildrey caught the attention of event organizers for his ProxyAdress project - realized during his residency at the Design Museum in London - which tends to re-imagine cities according to social difficulties, and housing by giving homeless people a fixed address to give to the different administrations - banks, jobs, studies, etc. -, in order to get out of this precarious situation.
The second project that sparked the curiosity of the selection committee resulted from the association of masters Pooja Agrawal and Finn Williams, under the name of Public Practice, a company facilitating exchanges between architects, urban planners and local authorities. Always with the aim of improving people's daily lives, the program aims to sensitize the authorities to proactive planning, thus allowing the public sector to be creative in developing solutions to housing problems - discussed here at the local level .
A more utopian approach, the architect Lawrence Lek's approach combines real-time graphics with virtual reality tools to create digital spaces, designed from real geographical points enriched for the occasion of fictional scenarios. A process that allows us to think about the very notion of space and the experiences that a virtual world can generate.

But this is the last candidate who charmed the members of the jury. Located between sculpture and architecture, Holly Henry's practice uses the technical construction elements, rarely used, to imagine abstract compositions integrated into vernacular architecture. His work shows the details and complexity of urban construction while blurring the boundaries between artistic intervention and architectural work. The first recipient of the award, Holly Henry receives an 10 £ 000 Scholarship to help fund future experiments.

A beautiful place given to the experimental architecture which will not fail to feed the debates.

To learn more, visit the Arts Foundation website

Photographs: 1) DR
2) Thierry Bal
3) Andrew Meredith
4) 5) Hildrey Studio
6) 7) DR