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'Take It From The Top'

Collaborative Exhibition, Slade Galleries


'Limit the sprawl of cities'. 'Use the existing building stock'. 'Replace, build on top and in-between, but do not expand'. These phrases are increasingly used to argue that the reuse of existing buildings and the restriction of urban sprawl is the new design 'solution' for architecture and the city. In a world that struggles to balance the forces of modernity with the current environmental challenges and with the histories and social desires of local places, what are the possibilities and limits of keeping buildings? To chose whether or not to build, what, how and for how long, requires a continuous and in-depth understanding of the physical, social and political realm. To preserve is first of all to find, learn how to actively observe and collaborate.

This exhibition/installation explores the human need to keep and care for objects and places is as important as the urge to create new things. This tension is productive for architecture because it points to the limits of design. What exactly do we want to keep? Buildings? Landscapes? Experiences? Social organizations? In certain cases the continuation of meaning and experience may demand the demolition of buildings more than their conservation. In this context how, when and where can reuse be a radical design action?  How can it operate within and against the authority of architecture? And is it ever necessary to make a totally clear start for buildings?

These questions are focused on Japan, in the exhibition, 'Take It From The Top' where the notion of keeping things is cherished and handed over from generation to generation and where the Shinto Shrines are rebuilt every twenty years to symbolize both continuity and impermanence. Six months ago the tsunami once again wiped out several coastal cities. How to begin again?

LOCATION | Slade, London

PROGRAMME | Exhibition/Installation