Students collaborate to re-imagine public and private space


Over a series of ten weeks a collection of students and staff from Birmingham School of Architecture and Design and Birmingham School of Art worked together on a collaborative project. Under the name of the ‘Agency for Speculative Landscapes’, the multidisciplinary group were asked to rethink an idea of utopia.

The process of ‘Conc(re)te.RIP’ was to propose questions for how we might reconsider brutalist architecture and a radical form of politics that attempted to make the world a better place for everyone.

The Agency provided a space to speculate on alternative scenarios from which to re-imagine our relationship to the materials of our urban landscape and issues around public and private space, developing ideas around the ‘archive’ as a site of production and questions of ownership in the age of digital-piracy. Starting with digitised ruins of the Birmingham Central Library, the Agency investigated the potential of concrete as a digital .obj file - to be manipulated and reformed, providing a space to experiment, think about a diverse range of topics.

The exhibition, which took place at Eastside Projects in Digbeth, presented everything from experimental hip hop, Instagram displays and film work, to alternative cladding systems and artificial intelligence.

“Exhibiting the student work in an internationally reputable art gallery demonstrated the level of work produced” project leaders and event curators Gareth Proskourine-Barnett and Alessandro Columbano said afterwards. “Curating the content was a challenge and a real joy to review the transformation of really complex ideas the students conveyed through creative and experimental visual formats.”

Speaking afterwards, BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design student Robyn Emery said:

The students explored publication in digital form, developing knowledge and practical skills over a series of workshops for the Duplicate: Artist Publishing Fair which ran alongside the exhibition. The fair brought together independent publishers from across the UK, celebrated printed matter and aimed to explore what duplication means in a digital age. Over 50 exhibitors attended the fair, selling zines, comics and artists’ books. There was also a programme of free artist led workshops and talks exploring themes surrounding self-publishing.

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