final presentation

12 January, 2007

i have hoasted the final powerpoint presentation on my site for now, if anyone would like a copy it can be dowloaded here, just click on presentation.ppt when you get there to dowload.


negotiating accrington

27 October, 2006


Accrington Town Centre Today I was invited to ‘infiltrate’ the Accrington Live Project for the second time.  This brief is unusual in live-project terms because it emerged out of the project work that Studio 5 (co-ordinated by Carolyn Butterworth) carried out in 2005-6, which involved interactive/conceptual art based surveys and the display fo their ongoing projects in public space in the town and proposals that considered public space.  The work that last years students (I being one of them) completed was exhibited in a shop, council offices and a terrace in an Accrington housing regeneration area.  Claire Joyce of Mid-Pennine Arts (who had been involved in the studio through Carolyn) pushed this publicity and momentum forward with a view to linking it to Mid-Pennine’s initiatives.  The links that were formed and the interest that was generated led to the Council becoming attracted to the Sheffield live-projects.

This live-project aims to meet a brief set by Elevate East Lancashire (which is a government body in charge of te regeneration of the area – thanks Richard!), which was informed by the radical nature of the proposals for Accrington that the studio produced.  In this Live Project the group have developed their research through a market stall and events set up in Accrington Town Centre and also through a series of contacts with local businesses, shops, residents, arts and community groups; some of which had sprung from the previous year’s studio project and some that had been developed through visiting the town and contacting stakeholders directly. The market stall was chosen as it was considered to be an important situation in the town as it was a focal point, with historic importance and most importantly, without thresholds; their active research became very public. They have made fantastic connections in many different forms, some of which I mentioned in my previous blog about what live projects are trying to achieve. 

What I found particularly interesting about today’s meeting was the questioning of what their role was as a live project (in relation to what role the profession would have with the same brief), what they could acheive in six weeks and what their skills were, both as an individula and collectively.  Their negotiation seemed to end in an understanding that they could not solve problems as they did not necessarily have the time period of knowledge of highways engineering etc to do so, but they had made relationships within the town and got a bery personal/relational view of the activity and desires within the area; this could be filtered to become an ambitious and quite radical approach to public space.  However, they acknowledged the temptation to revert to more traditional forms of masterplanning where they dealt with issues of where to place the bus station etc.  This seemed to be due to the form of representation they were initially using (large scale maps etc) and from some conversations with people that focused on pragmatic concerns.  It is their intention to produce a booklet of ideas for the town, which is currently being developed out of their ‘alternative surveys’ and public interventions and further research into public space.

Sheffield Platform: programme

21 October, 2006


Please click on the link above for the updated programme which outlines the order of events at the Sheffield Platform, 23 – 25 October 2006. Events and venues are subject to change, a confirmed timetable will be discussed on the opening night.

The Inconspicuous Yellow Office looks forward to welcoming our guests and participants on Monday evening and hope you have a safe journey to Sheffield.

Monday 23 October 2006

18.00 Yellow Talks in the IYO office, Arts Tower floor 17

  • University of Sheffield, Inconspicuous Yellow Office
  • Glas, Florian Kossak & Tatjana Schneider
  • Atelier D’Architecture Autogeree, Constantin Petcou & Doina Petrescu
  • Electro Works, Alan Deadman
  • George Lovett (TBC)

20.00 Opening night meal, East One Restaurant

21.00 Drinks, Brown Bear Pub

Tuesday 24 October 2006

Re-living the live projects

09.30 Introduction to the day in the IYO office, Arts Tower floor 17

10.30 Games, Walks and Workshop. Workshops will take place to investigate and debate various aspects of Live Projects, with the intention of making a magazine page which describes the outcomes of these debates. Magazine pages will be collated to create a full magazine which will be distributed at a later date. Lunch will be taken on site.

17.00 Groups return from sites to the IYO office, Arts Tower floor 17.

A live (project): Big & Small Conversation

17.45 Meet at Vestry Hall, Sharrow

18.00 Buffet

18.45 Presentation: IYO

19.00 Presentations: Kathrin Bohm, Public Works and Prue Chiles, BDR.

19.10 Presentations: Sam Vardy, GM Products; Carolyn Butterworth, University of Sheffield; Colin Havard, Sharrow Community Forum.

19.50 Break

20.00 Presentations: Constantin Petcou, AAA; Pierre Jambé, BRUSK.

20.10 Presentations: Rosie Parnell, University of Sheffield; Mark Kingsley; Teresa Hoskyns, University of Brighton.

20.40 Hat Led Discussion

21.30 Close

Wednesday 25 October 2006

09.30 Group work to complete magazine pages

10.30 New Lives to Projects (closing session: feedback on workshops and discussions on the future aspects of Live Projects)

12.30 Close

Sheffield Platform hit list

21 October, 2006

In preparing a programme and guest list for the Sheffield Platform (23 – 25 October 2006) we – the nine activators of the Inconspicuous Yellow Office / IYO – prepared a ‘hit list’ of key players in the various overlapping fields of architecture, research and alternative practice. We look forward to welcoming an interesting selection of the following people to Sheffield next week for the Platform.

Please click on the link below for a pdf of the bio’s for the hit-list of key players for live-projects and alternative practice:


Working On Tapton: ‘Alternative Consultation’

19 October, 2006

Opened approximately 5 years ago, Tapton School was one of the first schools in Sheffield to be built under a Private Finance Initiative.  Disappointingly, the school design has come under criticism from teachers and pupils, offering inappropriate and uncomfortable spaces.  The “Working on Tapton” live-project is aiming to address these issues using a number of devices, principally a schedule of five 1hr lessons with A-level “Graphic Design” and “Resistant Materials” students (16 & 17 yr olds) at the school.  Lessons have so far entailed identifying spaces of concern within the school, carrying out photographic studies of them and undertaking a series of sketching and modelling studies to explore new designs, installations and implementations that will have a positive effect on the spaces. 


The predominant interest in this project is the obvious failings of what can be deemed as ‘typical practice’.  Five years ago a school was designed that failed to acknowledge the general requirements of those that use the spaces.  “Working on Tapton” is approaching this issue by directly involving the users of the space, acquiring their input through a number of exercises that contribute to design solutions, but also their appreciation of the architecture.  This level of ‘consultation’ is not typical architecture and choreographing such involvement is no mean feat.  When carrying out games, plays and treasure hunts (see the Hunters Bar School Project – previously posted) with 4 year olds, the response can perhaps be easier to predict.  At Tapton encouraging interest and participation from students in their mid to late teens is a different ball game and perhaps often overlooked in typical architectural practice. 


The school is ‘owned’ by Interserve plc, a services, maintenance and building group.  The teachers and pupils are ‘tenants’.   The involvement of the tenants in moulding their immediate environment can only prove beneficial to their enjoyment of the architecture.  The ‘ownership’ of the project is also interesting to note.  Most commonly live-projects have two timescales.  Firstly, A six-week period where university students ‘own’ a project progressing it through a stage or number of stages, and secondly an indeterminate period that continues on beyond the students’ involvement when the project may or may not survive in the hands of the client, user and any other participants.  This ‘ownership’ of a project is key to its survival.  In the case of Tapton School, ten students and 1 tutor have been involved for 3 ½ weeks and will continue for another 2 ½ as contribution to their academic progress and education.  The impact of their work will depend on the school and Interserve’s ownership of the project.  A third ‘ownership’ or timescale is that of the involved school pupils, as the classroom sessions contribute to their education and curriculum.  Hopefully their inclusion will ensure the profile of the project is retained once the university students have moved on.

Weston Park Cancer Research Information Centre

18 October, 2006


The scheme is to suggest a user friendly environment for the current Cancer Research Centre in Weston Park. The New Extension had been recently built against the existing mansion house. The Clients had overcome problems of inefficient outdoor landscape and lacking car parking spaces. Many more minor problems allowed The Live Project which was a group of 9 Sheffield University Architecture Students to work within the 6 weeks.

Card Games

This is one of the devices they used to communicate with the clients. Abstract and realistic images were printed at A6 size and mounted on foam board for different proposes. These images encouraged new ideas or debates between clients and designers. Three staffs were involved in the games and resulted in list of problems to reschedule their brief.

Tuesday morning 17th OCT

I have joined in their Client’s meeting presenting series of options for the improvement of Cancer Research Centre. Here are few of the samples shown below:


If you are involved or interested in this Live Project, please leave comments for new information and updates.

South Yorkshire National Park Live Project (ii) (SYNP)

17 October, 2006



As part of IYO’s ‘adopt a live project’ scheme, I was kindly allowed to sit in on a current running live project here at the School of Architecture in Sheffield.


Following on from last years live-project of the same name, this year sees a new group of Sheffield M.Arch students take up the mantle of pushing SYNP into new fields of possibility.


The initial dilemma given by the client Alan Simpson was ‘What if South Yorkshire was a National Park?’ The immense scale and utopian nature of this live-project is one element that makes it stand out from many others. It raises the issue of size and scope for the live-project, and asks the questions; Are there any limits regarding size of task and time allocated to any given live-project? and Is there risk of students being exploited?


SYNP has been given credibility by last year’s ideas/research document and is now being considered by local and regional policy makers.


This year sees the team develop last year’s work by taking some of the principles and translating them into spatial strategies for specific areas of
South Yorkshire, as well as communicating the live project to a wider audience than before (communities/local businesses/government agencies).


One device the team this year are going to use is a ‘road trip’ that runs along a pre-determined line (transect) across South Yorkshire. This transect takes into account the current conditions and opportunities available for a potential SYNP spatial strategy. This will enable the live-project team to provide evidence of the effectiveness of the principles, and test via case-studies the benefit of deploying SYNP across the region of South Yorkshire.


Please leave your comments here, if you are involved in this project or would like to raise a question about this specific live-project to be answered by the SYNP live-project team themselves.


Hunters Bar Infant School

13 October, 2006


As part of an overall strategy to re-create the outdoor play spaces for the children at Hunters Bar Infant School, this Live Project intends to create a series of devices to help include the children in the design process. Due to the level of awarenss of a childs surrounding being extremely limited, such devices need to increase this awareness to then begin to encourage a process of relfection to draw out design proposals.

However, the term ‘devices’ is an unnecessarily architectural term for what the group are trying to do. The first ‘device’ was a play in which King Bertiys magical treasure had disappeared, and the children needed to find it! By looking for the treasure and then describing where they found it, the children could begin to think about the spaces around them. The treasure was then used in a variety of other games to help think about what changes could be made to the play areas to make them better.


The intention of the groups work is to empower the children to take a propositional role in the re-designing of their play spaces, which will encourage a futuer sense of ownership within the space.

Please see the comments section for updates to how the project progresses, and please feel free to add your own comments on what the group are up to…

what is alternative practice trying to achieve?

13 October, 2006

I was wondering yesterday whether alternative practice may be defined by what it is trying to acheive… IYO have spoken about techniques and whether a certain methodology or trait is alternative… and perhaps as kenji points out this is fluid, but maybe there is some continuous thread within the aims of alternative practice…
When I was ‘infiltrating’ the Accrington Live project group yesterday, I discovered that like us they were using a number of devices/ situations to interact with all of the people whom they had made contact with or were yet to make contact with in Accrington… (they were hoping to be in the paper, speak on the radio, attend the plasterers’ college prize giving, have a holloween market stall etc etc) and perhaps if we named these methodologies and what they were hoping to achieve from each one we may get an idea of what alternative practice was interested in as a subject and what it was trying to do… Carolyn (Butterworth, their tutor) spoke of making the richness of Accy visible to itself, not to outside investors like the grand regeneration development plans… each student in the live project meeting had stories of Accy to tell and discoveries about triumphs and humourous interactions that they were delighted by… it is perhaps finding a forum to ‘make things public’ as Bruno Latour may say…
But in doing this the contradictions between each of these aspects of a town must be explored…. Julia Thorne and Anne Dwyer point out in their evaluation of Matirx (a feminist collective, consisting of architects, builders, artists and designers) that it was always unhappy with terms such as ‘equlity’. They sought to explore ‘difference’ as a reality and a creative force rather than form an unhappy consensus that attempted to make eveyone the same. Perhaps alternative practice may be attemtping to make public invisible people’s concerns and desires and rather than solve pragmatic problems…

Can the roles for participants involved in a live-project ever be changed?

12 October, 2006


The client’s role would seem to be pretty much fixed when it comes to live-projects. It is the role that is highlighted by most as making the live-project different from a studio project. But what happens when this is challenged? What happens if…

  • the student/students become the client?
  • the tutor/tutors become the client?
  • the client becomes a student?
  • the client becomes a tutor?

IYO are exploring this condition by using ‘office hats’ which are switched throughout the project’s duration. Will this end in complete chaos? or perhaps something else?> Watch this space…

Re-Launch 121006

12 October, 2006



FREE YELLOW food & drinks

Thurs 12/10 after studio intro. 17th IYO Office


… please fill in the feedback slip attached to the flyer and put into the YELLOW post box in our office. REMEMBER to keep your eyes on our blog, FREE for any comments. More events are coming …

I.Y.O. is coming soon…

9 October, 2006


Practice in General

9 October, 2006

It would be a starting point to look practice in general to divide into (Alternative/ Traditional):


In General Practice is an action or performance, but the term also implies a method of action, in the sense of habitual, customary, or routine. A professional practice, then, is the customary performance of professional activities.

Architectural Practice emerges through complex interactions among interested parties, from which the documents for a future building emerge.

Page 4 Chapter 1Architecture: The story of PracticeDana Cuff.

Mapping & DNA

8 October, 2006


1. We divided these previous projects into a set of objective categories:

  • Tutors
  • Clients
  • Date
  • Size/ Location
  • Types

Read the rest of this entry »


8 October, 2006


We tried to define some terms for Alternative Practice. Please feel free to fill up the board for “What is Typical Practice?

Location: Studio, 17th Floor Art Tower

Traditional/Alternative:Character defined/undefined

6 October, 2006

In any project, whether it is ‘traditional’ or ‘alternative’ there are characters: architect, client, user, etc. etc…  Traditional practice retains strict, rigid definitions of each character and what falls under their remit.  In some cases this develops into a hierarchy, recognising positions of ‘professional’ and ‘lay-person’.  Alternative practice allows these stereotypes to be dissolved.  Quite often client is or becomes architect or vice versa leading to a more diverse discourse between characters.

Meeting: 5 October

5 October, 2006


Name the interdisciplinary architectural event

5 October, 2006

Use the comment facility to propose names for the three day event in Sheffield 23 – 25 October.

Alternative Practice – Feminism

5 October, 2006

Traditional <-> Radical

This would be an alternative thought influencing the traditional practice. Before feminism has been concerned and developed, should we consider this is an alternative practice during this period?So perhaps alternative practice is a process of development or investigation of new thoughts:

in organizing the material is the tracing of a number of different historical trajectories: the development of feminism over time, the shifting role of feminists in architectural history and the changes taking place in women’s role as architects, while at the same time aiming to charify the key conceptual points and theoretical concerns which define the paths of each trajectory and form the areas of their overlap. Another difficulty has been to create a framework which is simple yet complex enough to relate the different forms of architectural practice – history, theory and design.

Gender, Space and Architecture Chapter 26 Page 225endell, J., B. Penner, et al., Eds. (2000).
London, Routledge.
P.S. there are more questions and discussions about feminism and architecture in this resources.

Architecture and sex (yawn)

5 October, 2006

Although the analogies between architecture and sexuality have now been explored to their tenuous limits, this extract from the essay Making Love / Making Architecture by Adis Didaskalou in Desiring Practices (ed. Rüedi, Wigglesworth and McCorquodale) is still remarkably apposite to our discussion. Surely a characteristic of all alternative architectural practice is that they employ an alternative method of practising architecture (you get my drift?).

Could this approach to questioning architectural practice be appropriate for our study of alternative practices, in that a relevant (and even contraversial) comparison or interpretation can be utilised to question what we take for granted?

Why is it that the stable building has to be the only ‘raison d’être of architectural practice, the only origin and recognised end?

Why, in architectural education, is such an emphasis given to the final product? Why is such pressure exerted on the students to produce (ejaculate) visible, even spectacular, completed projects?

Why do all students have to reach, after a carefully monitored process, a male-like orgasm (only one will be accepted) by the end of each studio?

How many successful, male-like architectural orgasms must a student be able to exhibit in his/her portfolio before he/she can possibly be recognised as a (male) architect?

Why are we inclined to attribute so little (if any) meaning and value to all the preliminary investigations and design ‘foreplay’, and this only to the extent we think they will lead us safely (though, not prematurely) to the predefined and prescribed final climax? Where might such students’ pleasure (if there is any left) come from? Will such pleasure spring from a labyrinthine design process, from some apparently insignificant details or singular moments, or will it result from its final achievement and absolute physical exhaustion?

ed. Rüedi K., Wigglesworth S. and McCorquodale D. (1996) Desiring Practices: Architecture, Gender and the Interdisciplinary. London, Black Dog Publishing