Third Natures: London Pleasure Gardens

Cristina Díaz Moreno & Efrén Garcia Grinda (The Consortium of Fantastic Ideas)

The notion of the building as a Third Nature explores the possibility of artificially modifying our environments to form complex assemblies or ecologies in which living and inert materials, different social groups and technological objects are brought together in a state of constant interaction. Integrating strange subcultures, classical temples, natural ecologies, rituals, parties and contemporary culture into architectural proposals, the studio will redefine the notion of publicness offering a countermodel to the ever-present spaces of spectacle and consumption, being creative and at the same time critical of, while exploring alternative forms of being together.

Conceived as distinct enclaves within the city dedicated to pleasure along the banks of the Thames, Pleasure Gardens were inwalled worlds of small wonders where social classes and hierarchies were put under discussion and flattened. Shifting programs and types from the private realm to the public, they became fertile grounds for extravagance, alternative activities and social constructs. During their two hundred year existence beginning in the 17th century, they redefined leisure and pleasure publicly by putting together and reinventing menageries, rotundas, music halls, supper-boxes, kitchen gardens, pavilions, lighting and fireworks, public houses, lay temples, fountains, panoramas, immersive world maps and conservatories to recreate a series of alternative counter-microcosms opposed to the daily routines and miseries of the big city.

By revisiting the notion of Pleasure Gardens, the studio (named The Consortium of Fantastic Ideas) will develop a set of medium-scale interiorized public buildings. Students will test the relevance of programs, typologies, languages, organizations and spatial conditions to create a family of rare new species of public artefacts in the form of a renewed Pleasure Gardens. To be located in London, it will subvert the idea of the spectacular banal that has dominated most of the recent examples of public space by understanding and exploring the cultural and political nature of public space and studying relevant public interiors along history. Each student will project one of the wonders of this small public paradise developing precise, accurate and delicate drawings and models to be collected at the end of the term in a big format book that will revisit idea of Third Natures.

Irregular Schedule:
Cristina Diaz Moreno and Efren Garcia Grinda will be in residence on the following dates: January 22 and 23, February 5, 6, 19 and 20, March 12 and 13, and April 2, 3, 9, 10, 23 and 24.

They will be available for optional desk crits/meetings on January 24, 26 and 27, February 7 and 21, March 14, and April 4, 11, 22 and 25, and hours outside of studio time as arranged with the instructors.