Mr Oliver Houchell
The Bartlett School of Architecture
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 1st Dec 2016
Founded on the agency of architectural drawing as a process-driven exploratory practice, Oliver developed a series of layered hand-drawings which set out to reveal new architectural possibilities from the familiar territory of the urban map. The drawing series, entitled ‘City of Bits’, began by considering the imaginary lines used in the conventions of general cartography as objects with agency when imagined to coexist within the abstracted, flat space of a 2-dimensional map of the City of London, attempting to expose new relationships between structure and space through the partial destruction of both. His work was the subject of a solo exhibition in Broadway Market in London in 2017.
Oliver is currently collaborating with landscape artist James Hutchinson on a philosophical investigation into the relationship between machine learning and human learning in the context of creative production. The work sets out to interrogate the complex motivations we as humans bring to the process of en plein air landscape painting as a situated practice and considers how a better understanding of these motivations and their agency in the production of creative work might inform developments in the subjective potential of artificial intelligence.
Oliver has been Design Technology II Module Coordinator, Lecturer and Technical Tutor on the BSc Architecture Programme since 2016, during which time he has developed the module significantly through an enhanced, direct technical teaching offering, a new lecture series and the creation of a suite of new course materials which provide continuous student support throughout Year 2. The Design Technology II lecture series is written and delivered in collaboration with Simon Herron and is intended both to inspire and expose the extraordinary breadth of technical possibilities in architectural production. The scope of the lecture series is further extended through the provision of technically oriented lectures on key themes (casting; frames; simulation and modelling; nets and skins) entitled ‘How Ideas Are Made’ which are written and delivered by Nat Chard.
Oliver is also Unit 4 Studio Tutor on the Design Make Live (DML) module in Year 1 of the Masters in Engineering and Architectural Design Programme, an innovative new interdisciplinary 4-year integrated masters delivered in partnership with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) and the UCL Institute of Environmental Design Engineering (IEDE). DML Unit 4 is interested in the space between things, objects with agency, and the effects that performative actions have on familiar environments. The unit explores ideas about making through the related trans-disciplinary fields of art, theatre, film and performance. Oliver also contributes to the admissions process for the programme.
Outside The Bartlett, Oliver is a technical tutor in First Year on the University of Greenwich's BA Architecture Programme and a technical tutor in Third Year of the BA Architecture and Fifth Year Masters in Architecture Programmes at the University of Westminster.
Oliver is a part-time Lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where he works on the BSc Architecture Programme and on the Masters in Engineering & Architectural Design Programme. Making has always been central to Oliver’s work; he has first-hand construction experience in both the workshop and on construction sites working with many different structural systems and materials at a variety of scales. This multi-disciplinary background to the production and practice of architecture combined with an incurable curiosity provides the framework for Oliver's approach to teaching. Before moving to The Bartlett, Oliver was a Studio Tutor at the University of East London on both the BSc Architecture and Diploma and Masters in Architecture Programmes and a Studio Tutor on the BSc Architecture Programme at the University of Bath. He has been a visiting Technical Tutor on the MArch and BSc Architecture Programmes at the University of Westminster since 2012. Oliver has been a guest critic at the Architectural Association, the University of Westminster, the University of East London, the University of Bath, Portsmouth University and Greenwich University, and he has also contributed to the University of Westminster's annual digital fabrication festival – FabFest – initially as a team mentor and subsequently as a judge and award presenter.
Oliver’s work at The Bartlett is informed by 20 years of experience in practice as an architect and bridge designer. He has worked for progressive practices including Wilkinson Eyre, Allies & Morrison and Brookes Stacey Randall, and started his work experience as an RIBA Part 1 graduate working for a multi-disciplinary practice founded on the premise that each commission is an opportunity to re-consider all component parts of a building’s interior, from lighting and furniture to textiles and ironmongery. As a specialist consultant, Oliver has collaborated with world-renowned engineering firms including Buro Happold Engineering, ARUP and Hochtief (UK) on complex, large-scale infrastructure projects, providing design and delivery expertise on a diverse range of projects including stadia, cable-net roofs, cladding systems and structural glass systems and both static and moving bridges. He has also been an advisor to Buro Happold's Design Review Board at their head office in Bath.