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Architecture (MA)

Edward Turner

Edward is a designer working and living in London. In his studies and through practice he has been particularly interested in perceptions of the mundane or everyday, observing and speculating over the relationship of architecture to habit and ritual. Previously working on projects in theatre design and exhibition installation he enjoys engaging in the temporal nature of architecture.

Studying his undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Liverpool, he has since worked on a number of social and cultural projects with Studio MUTT, Turner.Works and Haworth Tompkins.

A bus stop on Weston-Super-Mare's sea front filled with pieces of stored set.

Stemming from a need to accept our premature failures of 2050’s 1.5 degree climate target, ‘rainy days’ considers the role of built space in triggering and enabling urgency, to produce meaningful future modes of action.

“Longtermism calls on us to safeguard humanity’s future in a manner that both diverts attention from current misery and leaves harmful socioeconomic structures critically unexamined.”

-        Alice Crary: ‘The toxic ideology of longtermism’

Arguments of virtue solidify the ideology of longtermism throughout society, engraining its adoption in us all from a young age. This project emerges as an attempt to catalyse a change in mindset through our built spaces, identifying a psychological shift as the most essential ecological move in approaching crisis. The project looks to reconsider the irrationality and irresponsibility that is assigned short-termism, speculating on its productive adoption as our most suitable behavioural alternative. Foresight and expectation is to be dramatically scaled back, causing a state of short-termism that enables a close expression of a catastrophist mindset. Here, change is understood as large, frequent shifts, increasing our sensitivity and action in time.

Long-exposure image revealing the continuous adaptation of build space in a post-prediction society.
Metalwork models: (1) 'extro-science fiction' sign, (2) 115cm ruler signifying the velocity of climate change

The last few centuries show our ever-growing reliance on the idea that more information produces better decisions. From our climate crisis to our economic one, advancement through machine learning and predictive modelling has positioned them at the forefront, yet current situation suggests we are now beyond the predictive capacity for them to help.

Despite an increasing sophistication of the tools that we use to model the world, the accuracy with which we can predict future events has remained unchanged. In the context of this post-prediction world, where dense information gathering and reliance has started to diminish our effectiveness in prediction, the project looks to short-termism as the only rational (and responsible) strategy.

object [1]: extro-science fiction

Philosopher Quentin Meillassoux makes the point that every science fiction implicitly maintains the following truism: “in the anticipated future it will still be possible to subject the world to a scientific knowledge.” In this, he addresses the inherent issue of induction. Experience, by definition, is an attribute that can only exist in the present and the past. There is no experience of future, yet we maintain and ground through experience (i.e. induction) that tomorrow’s nature will follow the known consistencies it follows today. Coming from this, a mild steel sign of the projects world reminds us of the potential a pool shot has in doing what we expect to be impossible.

object [2]: 115cm ruler

We know climate change is occurring but for a long time it has felt like an abstraction. Its effects have not always been visible in our personal environment, however, that has started to change more dramatically. Currently, the global mean velocity of climate change stands at 0.42km/year. Meaning per day the environment shifts 115cm up/north. In this rate of change can we still rely on systems rooted in long-term projection/prediction?

A view down Weston-Super-Mare's disused runway, now scattered with fragments of set that is moving on.

The project uses Weston-Super-Mare to exemplify a location where a behavioural adoption of short-termism is organic in response to current and near future flooding. The sea side town of Weston has the largest amount of households at risk of abandonment in the UK due to rising sea levels by 2050. This emerging form of short-termist architecture is implemented on Weston-Super-Mare’s disused airport, where a new orthodox housing development has already started to be constructed despite the sites inevitable flooding

a window view down the street of New Weston.
A still from within the development of New Weston's short-termist society.
A view up, through the dense timber structure of New Weston's life-boat station tower.
Approaching the New Weston development.

There has always been 2 distinct sides to anybody’s approach to environmental strategy within architecture.

1.    To build it out of concrete where it will last hundreds of years, resulting in an incredibly low ‘whole life carbon’.

2.    To resemble a tent where it won’t last long but will carry such a low embodied carbon that there is a minimal impact.

Nowadays, we find ourselves in a situation where the former is no longer acceptable. The only thing we can do rationally is to build for the incredibly short-term, where there are structures with such little environmental impact that we are not furthering erosion. If our architectures were thought about in this manner could our everyday behaviours be encouraged also?

A dusk view, showing the remains of a previous rehearsal.

Expectation levels vary based on event types and impacts, because of this, certain timescales are associated with particular events. What we consider to be ‘large events’ are associated with greater time periods, as is the same with smaller ones. In the adoption of consistent acts of rehearsal, inevitable overlapping of a 1:1 event (i.e. that which we expect to happen at least once a day) with an occurrence of a 1:365 (i.e. that which we expect to happen once a year) brings about a change in perspective on “one-off” events. 

Speculating on rehearsal as a new means of existing, no longer viewed as an exceptional behaviour, the project is a study in how a psychological shift might be enabled and persuaded. Where mitigation of our uncertainties and anxieties through alternatives to long-term projections are scaled back, accepting that only the immediate short-term can be viewed as predictable in any situation. 

To facilitate the construction of events, an architectural language of rehearsal provokes a short-term, provisional approach. Temporary by nature, it promotes a way of being more suited to our lack of carbon budget, minimising carbon impact and actively facilitating disassembly and reuse to stimulate more immediate change.