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.
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.
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.
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.
Public TV Dinner
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 hulahoop 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;
“Down in front!”
“Hey, I was watching that!”
“Isn’t there anything else on?”