Heart House (London Met 2005-6)
"The space we love is unwilling to remain enclosed. It deploys and appears to move elsewhere without difficulty; into other times, and on different planes of dream and memory", Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
Gaston Bachelard believed that we each accrue a house inside us that is made of all the places where we have lived, and loved; and that for each of us this house represents the summation of these other houses; suggesting that each house is "here" and also "elsewhere".
Heart House projects developed from writing and drawing houses, and making collages models of these memory houses, places that the students had lived in all over the world (the examples illustrated are of houses in Turkey, Japan, Croatia, St Lucia and England), in an attempt to De-Colonise architecture and to pay close attention to its diversity and difference. Culture, climate, custom, the availability of materials and local building traditions and the patterns of social life were revealed to co-exist in a creative equilibrium. Moving from drawings and writing, to collages and physical models, the students then translated these different spatial types into designs for a house to live and work in London. The atmospheric and material spatial qualities of architecture are considered in relation to formal distinctions between work and leisure, sacred and profane, familial and individual, urban and domestic conditions. The poetic aspects of dwelling, and the creative acts of working and living somewhere, are an interest for architects generally, and from these quite modest beginnings the students then moved to make proposals for a new home for the department of architecture situated at Whitechapel - a "House of Architecture" made up of memories of other houses.
Along the way, the students collaborated with Daniel Rosbottom's students, and together we designed and built a temporary structure that was situated in the forecourt of The British Library for the summer of 2006. This temporary, little house introduced a new scale into the courtyard, and acted as the shelter and stage for a new form of public life there. Local school children wrote their Heart House poems and these were collected and displayed inside the structure, with a visitor's book for further memories. The little Heart House structure was inaugurated with a reading by the poet Elaine Feinstein: and so the story turned full-circle, from poems to architecture, and from architecture back into poetry.