Text by Lizzy Dixon & Jaya Modi
Memories settle on me like fine dust. They fill my lungs.
Then they harden.
A surface so fraught with tension, it cracks.
I groan under the weight of things I am not ready to talk about.
Unsettled. Unstructured. Inarticulate.
Familiarity, she toys with me; lingering on my fingertips like a soft residue.
It smells of the rust on my wrought iron window I held onto as I watched the rain.
It tastes of the sweet basil leaves from my mum’s potted tulsi plant.
I remember, I miss, I reminisce.
A final silence holds me, I break it as I walk away, leaving the shrieks of plastic tape
and the thudding of my own heavy footsteps.
I can only hear myself breathe.

7th April, Kingston.

Word is getting out. “Where are you moving to?”. We don’t know.

I don’t want to explain any more. “We might travel”.“Where?”

“We don't know”.

… Then their faces consider the latest news updates on countries, lockdowns, closing ports & movement restrictions.

19th May.

I’m already mourning my bed. Maybe I’ll find a real cave to sit and rock in instead.

11th June.

3 in the morning, I’m awake - this is insomnia, with anxiety as my only companion here. 3 weeks until I leave this house for good, and we all live in a hot tin can.

29th June.

Later, I drove past our empty house. There was no sign of anyone. But I couldn't go back inside anymore.

4th July. Hampshire.

I take a deep breath.

8th July. Dartmoor.

I kayaked the river Dart today. It took all the adrenaline and stress that has been collected and stored and fed it into white water rapids, dissolving it.

10th July. Bodmin.

An almighty shriek. Sadie stubs her toe. Followed by another bigger screeeammm - Sadie stubs her other toe. I go to see her and bang my head on the overhead compartment. If there’s anything that can set you off crying, it’s that kind of pain coupled with the rain. William blasts out ‘football’s coming home’.

“What have we done?” I ask Anthony. “You never assess after the first day”, he says.

20th July. Helford.

Been following a bunch of van accounts online. Why are they all so bloody smug? Young couples all in love looking hot and slim, manicured? Hair done? Filtered, edited, slick TikToks. Selling their life as living the dream. Like they don’t empty out their own shit everyday.

5th August. Tintagel

Anna places her cup down and says, “There’s water there if anyone wants it”. Sadie has made a car today. I realise I don't feel obliged to text anymore. It feels noisy. Our habits are changing in this space.

10th August. The Lizard.

..a woman sits on the shore line. She's wearing clothes that are not intended to get damp and sandy. She poses kneeling towards the sea, but looking back to the camera, holding a glass of prosecco. I watch how unnatural this looks in real life, juxtaposed with kids running in and out of waves, pouring buckets of sloppy sand, bodyboarders, paddle boarders, wet suits, drippy ringlet hair and water running off noses. What are we doing to our places of peace and recreation?

These places we come to escape. Is nowhere sacred anymore?

3rd September. Buttermere

We spent the whole day hiking up to a waterfall. We got lost, had lunch and dangled upside down from tree branches. We eventually found the waterfall, we climbed up to its base and swam in its freezing cold waters. Some of us got naked. When we came down, we sunk our faces into a hot pub meal. Off grid.

12th October. Estepona.

I love climbing into bed next to my kids.

I love their soft sedated bodies, their floppy squishy mouths. Lips kinda pouting without effort or intent.

The site is quiet.

Full of retired people. I judge them harshly. I judge all of them. Their lives of working hard paid off. I tell Anthony I am jealous of them and I can't wait for retirement. He reminds me “we should be so lucky”.

3rd November. Elche.

I want to send something to my neighbour and I find myself on satellite maps virtually outside her house and I miss sitting on her wall with a cuppa through lockdowns. I ‘walk’ round to my house, all the signs of us still living there, our cargo bike, my plant pots and geraniums. I ‘stand’ at my front door and imagine going home. I turn my phone off. And lie in the quiet next to my kids’ breath.

19th November. Murcia

I asked Anthony to pull over. It had been raining and I walked through the lemon orchard. As I walk I am aware that I grew up in Liverpool, and walking through a lemon orchard after rain feels like a fairy tale to the senses.

7th December - Esponella

It’s funny how the van feels like an adequate amount of space for 6. I need the toilet. Being made to walk to the toilets under the stars has become one of my favourite inconveniences.

11th January - Budapest 2022

Traveling is a demanding relationship. Logistically, it demands your full undivided attention. Romantically, it rewards with sunrises and sunsets unimagined. Every now and then we get in a fight, traveling and I. But it forgives me.

Home. A cultivated ease.
Now measured in the number of memories filling a new space.
But how much of what I remember will stay the same?
Perhaps I will return to my tree. And dig with my hands down to its roots.
Through the wet mud, and fruits left ripened, fallen, unclaimed and rotting.
Each rain, a palimpsest. Each storm, a rebirthing.
Subsumed in both joy and grief, will my home still stand in ceremony?
How much of what I remember will still stay the same?

Illustration by Ziyan Wu

On the Other Side:

The Work of Simon Wheatley and the Problem with the Brutalist Renaissance

Text by Tobias Korner

On a cold, grey January morning Simon Wheatley invites me to his flat in Bethnal Green. The short 10-minute walk from the station acts like a kind of teleportation into his work. The gastro-pubs and £3 cappuccinos – tentacles of nearby Shoreditch - recede into the graffitied shutters of closed newsagents, Bangladeshi supermarkets, and the stalls of Globe Town Market, framed by Cranbrook Estate and Sulkin Tower, fortresses of mid-century social housing.

A legendary figure in the grime scene, a result of documenting its infancy in the early to mid 2000s (his seminal book Don’t Call Me Urban: The Time of Grime has become scripture for the era), Wheatley is no stranger to East London, nor its concrete council estates. He has spent the past twenty years capturing inner city life, and the structures that bind it.

While finishing some last edits to a proposal for a new book, he details the origins of his interest that go back to his first encounter with brutalism as a student in London, a late-night date taking him to Heygate Estate. Though, his original reaction of fear and intimidation to its dark tunnels and walkways would come to be replaced by curiosity as a photographer on early assignments to Lambeth Walk. His intimate shots of youths and their friends, families, wax and wane between adolescent exuberance and a deeper disaffection – a tension that would come to be the foundation of Don’t Call Me Urban, and his practice as a whole. He takes on an air of deference about the right-place-right-time mantle “I didn’t have an intention. I just record. I document. I never wanted to portray someone as banal or aggressive or anything that society might have deemed them, but my camera couldn’t help but record the accuracy of what I saw”.

“That’s where I feel most comfortable: on the margins of society”, says Wheatley. Four years spent in Amsterdam capturing its dark underbelly beyond the tourist-friendly coffee shops and Red-Light District on the elevated avenues of the colossal Bijlmermeer estate, and a further two in Blois, reveal a concern beyond the UK. The latter, on one of France’s largest housing projects, proved to be his hardest.

First sent on assignment for Time to cover the riots that had spread from Paris, Wheatley would return another seven times between 2005 and 2006. What he found was “dark, hopeless”, a microcosm of North African immigrants that had been marginalised and shut off from larger society, unable to find work, meaning or acceptance in France. Despite their relegation to the confines of the Corbusier-hangover that is the Quartier Nord, Wheatley highlights the attachment that youths had to their blocks here, and in contrast to the postcode warfare in the UK, a sense of togetherness – mon frère, on est tous ensemble.

Wheatley doesn’t only focus on capturing life on these estates; he turns his lens to their architecture - shots of walkways, tunnels, Gursky-esque grids of balconies and nocturnal pans of sodium-drenched concrete. His photos of the crumbling North Peckham Estate burn the retina, offering a dystopian counterweight to the 60s promotional photography for the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield, or the Smithsons’ Golden Lane collages.
While brutalism experiences a revival in the public eye (an installation taken from the demolished Robin Hood Estate featured at the 2018 Venice Biennale, figures like Jonathan Meades showering high praise on once loathed buildings) this new-found attraction/fascination/fetishisation has its flaws. As its superstructures are adored, with petitions drawn to save those condemned, their occupants are largely neglected, relegated to staffage for these monuments of a bygone architecture. The flip side of social rejuvenation is something that has repeatedly been looked over as the ‘movement’s’ original ideals of post-war utopia and social utility have been disremembered – what the academic Oli Mould has called ‘generational amnesia’.

The social dynamics of urban renewal were stitched into Wheatley’s tapestry of a modern-day London when he made the short film M-Town: The Hidden Olympic Village, a portrait of Maryland in the East End that fell through the cracks of the area’s makeover in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics, as told through the eyes of Chronik. “Gritty, people trying to survive out here. It’s the part that people try to block out, show Stratford and Westfield but they forget about Maryland…secretly they are trying to say it’s for the local people…I think it’s just a stunt” says veteran grime MC’s cousin. Wheatley is similarly dubious when he talks about the regeneration of Lambeth Walk, which he documented between ’98 and 2004. “I’m always sceptical. Money talks loud…there was nothing left of it when I got there. It had become a desolate place; the lifeblood of the area had been sucked away. You still had a community but it had been ripped apart”.

Although some may reason that brutalism’s resurgence is a reaction against gentrification
(re: Barnabas Calder in his book Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism), when one sees the eye-watering prices for flats in Trellick Tower, the argument quickly becomes undone. Too often has gentrification been put on blast through meta-narratives like capitalist interest, rather than understanding its implications on a human level. Wheatley’s photos go some way to remedy that, lending a voice to the forgotten. He describes this as an obligation, “One I’ve felt to the people who’ve given me trust, that I feel that I need to represent them, to show a more human side than the mainstream media”. For all the debate over whether they are architectural heirlooms or hotbeds for crime and violence, we might remember that these brutalist council estates are not inanimate sculptures (or ogled Instagram content), but homes for generations of people and families who deserve to be included in the conversation – one that could easily start here in Globe Town

Illustration by Anna Bonsignorio

Sustainability through the looking glass

Chris Stewart, RIAS President 2022

‘Those who control the past control the future, those who control the present control the past’ George Orwell 1948

Sustainability looks to the future, focuses on the present and learns from the past. With the present starting to show extreme signs of concern, the past has become a source of excuse while the future continues to change rapidly.

25 years from now, 70% of the global population will be living in cities. This should be viewed in the context that over 1 billion people will be displaced, a result of rapid population growth, increased exposure to natural disasters and ecological threats. Importantly though, there will be a disparity in the way in which these changes are felt with the consequences being less in wealthier North American and European countries. As a result, it is hard to imagine what future cities will be like, with the possibility of them resembling the utopian photo montage dreams we admire in architectural magazines being unlikely

The eleventh United Nations Sustainable Development Goal calls on all governments to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable by 2030. They are by far the biggest source of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions globally. How we manage our cities then, will either be a force for environmental destruction or a source of inclusive sustainable development. We will face enormous health challenges, in particular pollution, and must shift from the current high carbon infrastructure to one which improves the quality of life. There is space for opportunity; we need to promote cities with sustainable low carbon lifestyles for all. Urban Planning will become the most important role for Architects and as such, we must invest quickly in developing our understanding in this area and support the depleting professional resource which already exists.

In the twentieth century similar urban growth was witnessed; however, the agenda was different. Cities were either built to accommodate personal car transport or adapted to do so. Glasgow is a good example of this and illustrates the great cultural cost of doing so. It is interesting that 50 years after the construction of the M8 and as it nears its end of life, there are calls for its removal.

As we learn to live in a post pandemic world, significant interest has garnered around the planning concept of ‘Cities of Short Distances’ or rather the ’20-minute neighbourhood’. A compact city which keeps homes near everything they need for daily living. Commute times are reduced, cycling, and walking with their health benefits multiplied, fossil fuel usage and pollution decreased. Opportunities for social interaction are encouraged creating a feeling of safety. Over the past year I have been working closely with several inner-city communities in Glasgow to help develop Liveable Neighbourhoods, Glasgow City Council’s version of the 20-minute neighbourhood. The focus has been to promote grass root ideas which can bolster local town centres and encourage everyday journeys.

When asked what I think sustainability looks like now, I look back to Jane Jacobs and her book the Death and Life of American Cities. Jacobs fought to save Greenwich Village, a vibrant dense urban New York quarter from the developer Robert Moses and his freeway. Her book was published in 1961, construction of the M8 through Central Glasgow commenced in 1968 and was completed in 1972. We are still learning from the past.

Chris Stewart is the newly elected RIAS President. He is passionate about sustainable, inclusive architecture for all. Chris is a Director and founder of the employee-owned practice Collective Architecture. Chris is also a Director of the Scottish Ecological Design Association, former Convenor of the Glasgow Institute of Architects (GIA) Sustainability Committee and helped establish the RIAS Sustainable Working Group which he currently Chairs.

Review: House of Joy

‘House of Joy, by Elli Stuhler is an invitation to reawaken a childlike curiosity and rekindle the joy that adulthood can try to bury. This colourful book, full of vivid imagery and calming proportions provides a necessary replacement to the mantra that grey and angular is sophisticated, and anything else is risky. Instead, this text advocates the need for our spaces to inspire joy. It comes at a fitting time, gracing our shelves in the wake of the pandemic, a time during which we were confined to our homes. The book brings together buildings and interiors with a plethora of different functions, all of which are doing something that goes beyond the prescribed norms. Whilst the places given space in this volume will not suit everyone’s taste, they are all bound to provide inspiration and contemplation. As stated in the book ‘Sometimes [joy] is highly personal, sometimes it’s universal. Most of the time it’s somewhere in-between.’ It is important to explore what brings you joy and the ways we can use our spaces to do this. This book helps you do just that. 

The publication comprises of seven sections, spreading a variety of topics and sometimes focusing on the discipline of interior design as opposed to architecture. Each space is introduced via a paragraph of contextual information, with subsequent resplendent images which speak for themselves. The selection of places herald from all over the world, and entries such as ‘A Distinctly and Vivicly Walala resort’, a hotel in Mauritius, highlights how being inspired by joy instead of pre-ingrained architectural convention, can allow designers to create spaces which reflect a broader place-based identity and culture.  ‘A Walk-In Collage of Reclaimed Materials’ is again exemplary, illustrating how joy can still be found in times of unforeseen disappointment, as this space had been renovated during a financial crisis. The home incorporates second-hand materials, which helped keep costs low whilst also creating a space which reflects the city it is in, both historically and in the present moment. It also allows us a glimpse at how architecture can work within a circular economy framework, something which is undoubtably necessary in the current environmental crisis.

Many of the entries focus on the use of shape and line to create joy, articulating how consciously abiding by the laws of proportion can allow us to feel joy inadvertently through the act of subconscious looking. ‘A Midcentury Refurb in Sunny California’ is a good example of this, juxtaposing the building’s angular design with curvaceous interior decoration, creating a space which highlights both the curved and linear shapes. Juxtaposition is used further as a tool to create joy, as it is through contrast that we are invited to notice and enjoy facets of a space which might have otherwise gone unseen. ‘Classical Venice with a Memphis Twist’ does this through its mixture of modern and ancient emblems, combining the wiggles and colours of the Memphis movement with classical venetian details. It is an example of how architecturally sophisticated spaces which span across time can be created, spaces which perhaps motion towards a future which is synthesised and connected to the past. These spaces are a wonder to be hold, and the joy they give can be represented in the merging of concepts and breadth they represent.

This book is a sumptuous and immersive experience in colour and form. The spaces collated in the volume comment on the aesthetic past, present and future, resulting in a timeless architectural window. It is a manual about how to enamour life with the joy, wonder and creativity whilst simultaneously creating refined spaces that are calming and worthy of reflection.

Review: Radical Paedogiges

Branded as “experiments in architectural education in the post-World War II era that challenged and transformed architectural discourse and practice”, Radical Pedagogies, documents such endeavours in a well put together dossier. Collated by academics Beatriz Colomina, Ignacio Galán, Evagelos Kotsioris, and Anna-Maria Meister, this text acts as an encyclopaedic reference of the ‘radical’ and as such is to be celebrated.

The introduction from the compendium of authors asserts a substantive presence. By documenting “a sustained call to revolutionise architecture”, through to affirming the radical (from Latin radix; meaning root), a deliberate effort is made to position this text out with of standard canons of architectural education, academia, and professional discourse. It represents a genuinely bold ambition, feels timely, and appropriate with the literal purpose of the text being to “light a panorama of past attempts to subvert the status quo” and “to collectively reimagine pedagogy toward transformative forms of architectural practice”. This has been achieved through the deployment and support of a plethora of examples.

Considering the copy’s body, one could argue that it is perhaps suited to the contemporary, with each radical educational pedagogy filling no more than a handful of pages. As such, one can approach the publication in its entirety, or rather mimicking the modality and instantaneous nature of current media, flicking through, and settling on a page. Embracing this, one might land on Pedagogies of the Party. Following the rigorous format of the publication, the pedagogy begins with a note of the author; in this case Ivan Munuera, before listing the protagonists; “Gay People at Columbia” student group, the Institution; the University of Columbia, location; New York, and dates; 1967 - 1985. Whilst there is perhaps a monotony to this, the presence at the beginning of each allows clarity, it being a reminder of the need for these events to be remembered and recalled as relevant. Beyond this, the authors launch into copy, with each example including poignant images, a couple of columns of text and a series of references to inform further reading.

In the case of Pedagogies of the Party and most examples, the copy essentially serves as a history, an introduction to a topic probably unbeknown to most readers. Whilst there are cases in which the retracted format results in a copy lacking depth, the majority provide a pithy overview of a movement, an event or literal pedagogy with flare, excitement, and a reason for delight. Although unusual to get excited by the referencing, the presence and quality in this instance should not be discounted. Foremost, the well-placed references articulate the academic credibility of this tome whilst supporting the interested reader. Take for example Nature as Technology by John Blakinger. Like many, this entry is not more than five pages, three being solely images, however, by deploying seven references it is made ‘more'. Blakinger opens the discourse with citations including the work of Jack Burnham, titled Art and Technology: The Panacea that Failed. Through careful positioning, the references form a dialogue with the text and meaningfully extend it.

Radical Pedagogies is a well-written, highly researched and beautifully presented book. Whilst the authors recognise that the use of ‘Radical’ as oxymoronic, the act of doing so neatly affirms the text’s success, a function of the author’s ability to question, probe and magnify the “bounded nature of the field experiments it describes”. Such attempt should be celebrated and in an era in which students, academics and tutors are openly questioning the processes and worth of architectural education this text should prove foundational.

Review: Brick by Brick: Architecture and Interiors Built with Bricks

Echoing the squat form of a traditional soft mud brick, Gestalten’s Brick by Brick Architecture and Interiors Built with Bricks, offers a well curated selection of the simple brick manifested in many creative expressions. Through an interweaving of the contemporary and historic, editors Robert Klanten and Andrea Servert construct a narrative rich in detail and glossy imagery evidencing a material imbued with versatility, resilience, locality and history.

Formatted by Stefan Morgner, the typeset is exemplary, with the hefty physicalised form enabling a dogmatic dive for the coffee table. Imagery sits at the fore, acting perhaps as the principal partner, with the text supporting. The skilful formatting creates a clear rhythm, allowing the reader to flick effortlessly through pages of glossy, engaging images. Whilst there is a relative lack of technical commentary, the authors provide a fitting retort with timely essays bookending the carefully curated sections. Each short essay provides context, enabling an interested reader to expand their understanding and move beyond notions of the volumes purely pictorial focus.

Whilst all essays are well written and add to the understanding of a rich history, several carry notable prominence, including; “Brick Techniques: Historical and Contemporary Craftsmanship”, “The Ever-Changing Shape, Form, and Function of the Humble Brick and “The Versatile, Adaptable, and Sustainable Nature of Bricks”. The former, acts as an apt starting point, grounding the reader with a technical understanding of terminology, ultimately allowing the remainder of the text to hold interest for a varied audience. Further essays support this, each adding to the overall reading experience.

Primarily, this volume is positioned to act as a well-researched reference document, thus the majority of copy is examples of ‘best’ practice. The editors work with a neat format, with each selected work receiving a pithy, well written introduction, a series of glossy images and several supporting captions. Whilst the repetitive nature of the format holds potential to be mundane, the succinct descriptions and high-quality imagery enables a volume which captivates the reader with every turn of the page. Beyond the imagery, the curatorial efforts are commendable, with editors selecting an array of architectural examples ranging from the contemporary to the vernacular, evidencing the versatility of the material, a core tenet of the text. As a function of this publication’s quality, any number of examples could be selected, however, this reviewer’s personal favourites include; The Parchment Works by Will Gamble Architects, Casa Altingo by António Costa Lima Arquitectos and Haus Esters and Haus Lange by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Each commands interest, with the aesthetic and structural prowess of the raw materiality becoming bare in both historic and cotemporary practice.

All in all, Brick by Brick Architecture and Interiors Built with Bricks is a well-produced reference text with a twist. Imagery is defining, allowing one to celebrate the aesthetic value of a material that we are all reliant upon. As stated by the editors, “Brick by Brick offers a substantive guide for the continued use and innovation of the ancient material that keeps on giving” with the text that follows in clear support. Ultimately, brick forms a fundamental component of architectural expression and as such one should commend this effort to catalogue, promote and celebrate its historic and contemporary use.


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Crumble is a collection of spirited, open-minded students and professionals keen to enliven the conversation about architecture. Based in Edinburgh, we’ve set up a bi-annual magazine that aims to promote interdisciplinary understanding of architecture and place. It provides a platform for people of all backgrounds and disciplines to publish articles and artwork that explore concerns about the future of our surroundings from a local to a global scale. The magazine gives those ideas reach within and beyond the university through public distribution. The magazine has an emphasis on engaging architecture with its real-world, wider cultural context and exploring how it can provide answers to current political and social issues. We are keen to involve students and professionals from as many disciplines as possible. The magazine has already involved current and former professionals alongside students of Architecture, Illustration, Product Design, Fine Art, Linguistics, History, Politics, International Development, Conservation, Landscape Architecture, History of Art, Urban Planning and English Literature.
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