Thorwald Ter Kulve and Robert McIntyre
Royal College of Art
CanopyStair, sponsored by Haworth Tompkins Architects, was a modular system of steps that could be attached without tools to form a spiral staircase around a tree trunk. Lightweight and quick to assemble, it comprised a cast aluminium tripod frame, birch-plywood treads, a handrail and an adjustable ratchet strap that fastened each step into place.
It was also designed to have as minimal impact on the tree surface as possible, with neoprene pads mounted at the end of each step. Says Ter Kulve and McIntyre: 'The forest canopy is the least explored ecosystem on earth, a cloud of life that we can now access unobtrusively. There is something deeply nostalgic about the experience of ascending the stairs - tapping into childhood memories of exploring, climbing, trespassing, of tree houses and summer days.' CSH
University of Greenwich
This speculative piece came out of Unit 16's sober combination of brilliant draftsmanship and the imagined near future. It demonstrated warmth towards Thamesmead and a sense of nostalgia about the existing architecture. The current moment's interest in brutalism was explored more deeply by this project, looking into the ethics and optimistic mood along with the surface style.
Unit 16 has a two-year project cycle, meaning ideas can gestate for a long time. This project's maturity perhaps resulted from that. It had a subtle satire in it, which comes from longer thought. The (ironic) meta-drawing of the lonely architect's desk overlooking the architect's creation below was a standout favourite. EB
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
In a context of visually frenetic and at times cacophonous effort, Scott's near monochromatic models of 'an alternative civic archetype' acted as a moment of calm control.
These assemblages of stairs, podiums, arches and mirrors amalgamated the activation of a Popova stage set with the symbology of Soane's curiosities, by way of an optical physicist's light bench.
We were invited to contemplate their role as subversive civic apparatus wherein 'stone monoliths are mobilised by crowds and apparently mobile objects are fixed in position'; the aim being to dissolve strictly delineated rituals of governance, action and occupation.
The potential of such intent will likely remain untested in reality but these delightful instruments were no less sophisticated or aspirational as a result. SMcE
Adam Blencowe and Yu-Lin Chen
Royal College of Art
Blencowe and Chen's project used the unpredictability of melting ice to produce a plaster stool that would be completely different each time it was made.
Instead of traditionally mixing dry plaster powder with water and setting it in a mould, they froze water into the shape of a stool and packed dry plaster around it, holding it together with a wooden box.
The ice melts and hardens the plaster in its place, creating a strange, bumpy, three-legged structure that looked like something straight from the moon.
I'm not sure how practical it would be to actually sit on, but the material process, magically revealed in a short timelapse video, was fascinating. CSH
Johnson's colourful project, titled Public Nuisance, focused on the 'popular' crimes and illegalities around Elephant & Castle, such as busking, guerrilla gardening and graffiti, and suggested that these crimes needed a separate legal system to the current courts. Johnson designed a new court system around four of these crimes, while also creating a training ground for the four groups to practise their activity legally.
There are four court rooms for each crime, as well as a crown and magistrates courts. He says: 'In the future my proposal for a new court system will cast the old into an obsolete state, changing the programs of the crown and magistrate courts into storage rooms for case law.' More whimsical additions to his seemingly Archigram-inspired visions included a guerrilla garden that used train movement to send seeds grown on the platform into the air to pollinate greater London. CSH