New Order: Unit 3 at Kingston School of Art
12 January, 2022
This collection has been compiled from a larger reading list used by Professor Andrew Clancy and Laura Evans in their teaching of Unit 3 at Kingston School of Art in London in 2020-21. A parallel unit with a different reading list was run by Catherine Blaney and Colm Moore at Queens University Belfast.
Faced with the difficulty of teaching remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, the unit set sites within fiction; places that were real, yet ones to which we could not travel. Before a building can be constructed in the world it is constructed in our minds, and we recognised in this understanding a parallel both with the process of writing a novel but also with our experience as readers. We picture the buildings and spaces described in the light of our own stories, our own histories; we bring our own intuitive, tacit knowledge to the places described in these novels, filling in the (often extensive) gaps in the fictional construction(s) with our own memories and imagination.
From their reading of these novels, the students built design proposals. Sometimes, these cleaved to the framework described by the author, and in other cases, the project inhabited the world of the book but its scale and ambition grew far beyond it.
Often, the spaces described were domestic – a reflection perhaps of the cumulative importance of the settings in which the mundane parts of our lives play out on a daily basis, but which took on an almost unprecedented importance for our students as we navigated national lockdowns and other restrictions on our movement. Landscape and climate too figure heavily, and these evocative descriptions of different realities allowed both for a greater degree of imaginative projection into the experiences of others as well as a focus on the environmental qualities of the resultant buildings.
This collection contains four novels written by women, and corresponding fragments of the student work arising from the spaces and places described within each:
Drucilla Boakye began from descriptions of the Cornish moors in Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Jamaica Inn’ (1936)
Catarina de Abreu began from descriptions of Sokcho on the border between North and South Korea in Elisa Shua Dusapin’s ‘Winter in Sokcho’ (2020)
Finian Reece-Thomas began from descriptions of Nsukka, Abba and Enugu, Nigeria in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Purple Hibiscus’ (2004)
Hiyala Shafeeq began from descriptions of Kerala, India in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ (1997)