02 X DESCRIPTION
How can a national Exposition and its by-products become vessels to define long-term cultural and stylistic values for the definition of Britain as a nation? Expo ‘36 takes place in Milton Keynes in 2036 to represent a constructed image of Britishness. The project is explained through the eyes of Brian Wilson, a journalist that visits the Expo briefly after its opening date, the 23 June 2036.
Brian, nostalgic towards a sense of tradition and Britishness, and willing to reaffirm such notions in a period in which they are constantly being questioned, takes for granted that everything in the Expo has a truly national character.
Materials such as Soft Concrete, an endless set of totemic teapots, and perpendicular gothic column forests, being all these newly invented objects of Britishness, are for Brian parts of England’s communal memory and identity, as they are scattered both around individual homes and public places, in the same way as the pavilions act as narrative triggers in the Expo.
These clues lead him back to the often-forgotten narrative of the innovative past of the country, undetachable from its tradition, which is praised in the Expo’s five different pavilions. But in this constructed scenario has Brian stopped for a moment to ask himself if a mere material such as concrete or an object such as a simple teapot can ultimately represent something as intricate and wide as British culture? Is Brian sure that this selective and exclusive Expo will be representative of something so complex and intricate as the same idea of Britishness as shared by everybody else? Finally, is this Expo not just a mere participatory utopia of a simplified populist architectural agenda that excludes a wider understanding of such notions?
03 X INSPIRATION AND REFERENCES
The inspiration for this project came after Brexit became a truth. Being an international student studying in vibrant and multicultural London, I decided to explore the dangers of what it would mean to call and define a Style as “unitary” and “national” nowadays.
Starting from a provocative video released by UKIP supporters in which Modernism and concrete were defined as an “eyesore”, I decided to locate my Exposition in Milton Keynes, one of the most experimental, and potentially the biggest Modernist project across England. In terms of drawing style, one key reference was the study of the 1984 Sussman-Prejza’s Los Angeles Olympic design, where graphics and colours became ways of branding the crafted identity for the city.
Other sources of inspiration came from Sam Rodia’s Watts Towers, Adam Firman’s models and graphics, Elsewhere Architecture’s colourful and detailed drawings, and Ettore Sottsass as a general reference. Something that helped the project develop further is the tool of the score, a descriptive and analytical drawing which puts together what is necessary to develop a strategic agenda to drive the intent and the desired impact of the project, invented by my tutors Tyen Masten, director of PHASE3 Architecture, and Inigo Minns, architect and currently Diploma tutor at the AA.
04 X ABOUT
Theodora Giovanazzi is currently a third-year student at the Architectural Association in London. Her main focus of interest revolves around the use of architecture as a creative tool to provoke, question engrained certainties and stimulate doubts. Through her projects and their utopic scenarios she tries to challenge and address the notion of identity in our contemporary society while exploring the anthropological possibilities of architectural practice.
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