LOCATIONGillett Square, Dalston
STORE London Summer School 2016: Course & Event
STORE’s fourth annual London Summer School invited students to explore architecture, art practice, urbanism and performance over two weeks in one of London’s most diverse and vital public spaces. For the second year running, Gillett Square was our site, our classroom and our workshop as we designed and constructed the architecture for an open air screening and evening meal: the TV Dinner.
Students were invited to critically examine what makes people feel “at home” in public spaces. We began by investigating patterns of ownership, influence and movement in the Square. Our observations and prototypes went on to inform the design and choreography of the “TV Dinner:” a one-night event where students’ documentation of the course were be screened alongside several channels of local artists’ films. This year’s uniquely challenging brief was broken down into a sequence of interactive, spatial and structural design problems:
1. REMOTE CONTROL
Students were encouraged to devise playful, interactive mechanisms by which members of the public could change channel to shape the evening’s programme, with an awareness of social and spatial dynamics.
2. DINNER TRAYS
Through the design of bespoke trays for audience members to collect food from local vendors and enjoy a meal on their laps, students were asked to consider intimacy and personal transactions.
The manufacture of new seating for the Square allowed students to consider how the themes of play and interaction – explored through the design of remote control and dinner trays – might outlast the TV Dinner itself, in a collection of outdoor furniture.
4. THE SCREEN
In creating a structure large enough to house a screen visible across the square, students were challenged to work cooperatively while addressing technical and spatial design problems.
Informed by observed patterns of ownership, influence and movement in the Square, students worked in groups to gather and develop multiple concepts for the remote control. They were encouraged to analyse and further refine initial concepts to distill a clear design brief for a remote control system that was:
Working in small groups, our students presented their concepts in a crit session at leading interactive design firm Umbrellium. After collective discussion and further refinement, our students set out to build a remote control tower, activated by a collection of cryptically marked discs – or ‘buttons’ – scattered across the square.
As a further experiment in site recording, students created giant cyanotypes using discarded objects from the Square. Pre- treated with photosensitive solution, sheets of fabric were used to capture sunlight and shadows cast by crates, packaging and tools. The resulting prints were used to enclose the screen structure, embodying a record of our outdoor workshop in the finished piece. The cyanotyped fabric was also used to create 50+ unique dinner-trays to be used at the event.
BUILDING A SCREEN
To ensure our giant TV screen would be visible in the early evening, we resolved on back- projection together with the help of the Lost Picture Show. This required a light-proofed structure of ambitious scale, resistant to wind loads that could be constructed and disassembled on the day of the event. Establishing structural principles through model making and full scale experiments, students built three component timber frames, which were bolted together to create a robust but collapsible structure.
To avoid working at height, the whole structure was safely assembled at ground level and raised into position frame by frame. The screen is now stored away as flat packed components, and is available for future screenings on the square.
THE TV DINNER EVENT
Our final event offered students a unique opportunity to test their ideas on an impartial public, as well as sharing the results of their hard work with family and friends. The giant TV screen was positioned in the southwest corner of the square to address the widest possible audience. Audience members were invited to pick up a meal tray, consult a printed menu and TV guide before collecting dinner from participating local restaurants.
They could then choose to lean back against a backrest or in a rocking deck chair and enjoy one of ten TV channels. Slowly, our audience deciphered the remote control, holding up hula- hoop discs to the remote tower. A change of channel might be met by sighs of relief or cries of outrage as the audience made its feelings known.