Material Cultures is not-for-profit organization which brings together design, research and action towards a post carbon built environment. Inherently integrative, the design-led research project intersects material science, engineering, systems thinking, digital technologies and architectural design with a direct, active and practical approach. It aims to co-opt the factory as a place of creativity rather than mass homogeneity.
Along the way we have been modeling and testing at different scales with an emphasis on the direct use of materials and 1-1 fabrication. We began our year with a trip to the brick factory HG Matthews, where each student designed and made a chair. We ended our time on campus at HereEast, mid-way through the fabrication of a pavilion for the New Art Centre in Salisbury, for which the unit collaboratively designed a pavilion building using prefabricated timber cassettes with an innovative clay and hemp infill.
Our proposals are designed to be factory made, involving different forms of pre-fabrication and drawing on the material resources and infrastructure of the surrounding context. They combine both the efficiencies, improved labour conditions and precision of the factory with ancient building technologies and materials. Each building is a model, a design that can be reproduced and reconfigured many times and in many different contexts.
We develop qualitative prototypical buildings which are sustainable, economically viable, and positively impact their inhabitant’s lives through considered design and accessible adaptability. In a climate in which warranties dictate design, and the nature of construction contracts limit quality, Material Cultures seeks to redistribute the priorities of the construction process in favour of design and sustainability.
The proposals have been sited as part of the Aylesbury ‘Garden Town’, a government housing initiative drawing on the principles of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities. The site is intended to be at once specific and generic, to enable the propositions to be tested against context and in relation to each other. Together the buildings form a broader urban proposition that constitutes a self-sufficient town with its own housing, community buildings and productive spaces.