President’s Medals 2014 - Silver

Words:
Eleanor Young

PoohTown by Nick Elias, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Tutors: CJ Lim / Bernd Felsinger

In AA Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ a happy world is constructed fictitiously from an unhappy, real, Christopher Robin. It was published in the 1920s, a time when industry took off in Slough which quickly became a place of unhappiness and social exclusion. For the project, 1920s Slough is revisited to capitalise on the economy of ‘happiness’ as an alternative industry using Winnie the Pooh as a metaphorical protagonist.

Like many towns, Slough aches to be peaceful, happy and socially inclusive. It has long since been perceived as home to much deprivation. PoohTown aims to re-evaluate covert responses to socio-political exclusion by proposing ‘happy’ architectures where residents can live, work and play in a sustainable economic network. It also philosophises over the potential of today’s cities to prescribe policies of happiness alongside familiar amenities; a concept worryingly absent in today’s city planning. Empirical research showed that most people are happiest playing an idealised, fictional, representation of themselves – from wearing make-up to proving their organic credentials at the farmers’ market. Guests to PoohTown indulge in this tendency and become the fictional, happy, Christopher Robin by visiting Pooh and friends (each representatives of a specific ‘happiness’) on a proposed pilgrimage.

12

This speculative proposal is a device to explore the potential of a happy-ever-after.

PoohTown has taught me to design by applying knowledge rather than relying on transient technical knowhow. It has exposed transferable methods and reasoning, allowing me to work from a more personal, anthropological and emotional viewpoint. It questions what humans want and made it possible to test the purpose of architecture in a changing world. It is a more sustainable to design infrastructure for an emotional state; if it make us content, we may ask less from the Earth.


 

  • Silver High Commendation
    Silver High Commendation Credit: An Ark for Endangered Atmospheres Justin Cawley University of Sydney Tutor: François Blanciak
  • Silver High Commendation
    Silver High Commendation Credit: An Ark for Endangered Atmospheres Justin Cawley University of Sydney Tutor: François Blanciak
12

 

Silver Commendation
Silver Commendation Credit: The Living Dam Louis Sullivan Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL Tutors: Jonathan Hill / Matthew Butcher / Elizabeth Dow
Silver Commendation
Silver Commendation Credit: Brooklyn Co-operative Yannis Halkiopoulos University of Westminster Tutors: Anthony Boulanger/Guan Lee/Stuart Piercy

 

Latest

With retail flagging how can we bring life back into towns? Architects, this is your chance to step up

With retail flagging how can we bring life back into towns?

Gundry + Ducker's innovative design for the RIBA Marketplace stand at this year's Futurebuild event is made from Rockwool insulation and Rockpanel cladding for a restful, reading room feel

RIBA hub design at Futurebuild keeps things quiet

As cuts in public services bite ever deeper it’s down to local people to save and reinvent neglected or redundant structures. Architects play a crucial role

Local activists need public-spirited architects

National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

National Museum, Tartu, Estonia

Impressive productivity gains are offset by rising payroll costs in the RIBA Business Benchmarking Survey  this year

Revenues are rising twice as fast as staff numbers