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Prof Mark Smout

Prof Mark Smout

Professor of Architecture and Landscape Futures

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
23rd Sep 2002

Research summary

My Architectural Design Research practice Smout Allen (with Laura Allen) scrutinises and interprets the fluxing urban and rural landscape and its reaction and adaptation to natural environmental events and the ‘artificial’ influence of man. It proposes that the built environment can develop a reading of and synergy with its (changing) surroundings informed by understanding the complex interaction of living and artificial systems, environmental processes and emerging technologies. 

We practice a design-based approach to architecture, landscape and climate change via political, technological and artistic disciplines on the basis of what architecture can do with them and for them.

The work takes two routes. (1) Architectural competitions, where the particular rigour of the competition brief, site and program provide the basis for new investigations and to an extent control the theme of the work. (2) Conceptual and theoretical design projects test out the agenda and methodology of the design research practice. Interpretations of context, site, narrative and programme are developed during the iterative process of collaborative design.

Envirographic Architecture
Architectural design and critical design investigations testing the proposition that architecture and structured environments behave as envirographic entities – that is to say that they can make visible and demonstrate embodied complex environmental processes. Site River Severn and the Severn Barrage proposals. Installation pieces for the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno NV, USA.

'Modelling': negotiations of simulacra and exemplar constructions.
More specifically and in response to environmental themes this work follows strategies brought together by the term modelling for which there are essentially three definitions that are taken up and utilised by art and science disciplines; the replica – the architectural model, the prototype – the architectural model, the science framework, the social paradigm, the ideal – science specimens, design solutions.

Neo-Nature
This responds to the term neo-nature to which numerous definitions can be applied. It at once could suggest an evolutionary development as well as a synthesis of the natural and the technological. It suggests an artificial scene which either in fact, or at least in our perception develops from the capriciousness of man, nature and culture. Site Lanzarote UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Teaching summary

I started teaching Architecture at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in 1999 at both UCL, UNL and City University. Since then I have taught a number of design units, been a co-ordinator of an undergraduate technology module, Director of Computing and co-ordinator of a postgraduate technology module. I currently teach in MArch Unit 11 with Laura Allen and am co-ordinator of the Year 5 Thesis course.
 
My teaching of site specific and context driven design projects are worked in a polemic that corresponds and contributes to my current research practice interests and which promotes the design unit as an architectural laboratory for the invention of counter-programmes, where students can synthesise alternative propositions and where new architectural landscapes can emerge. A didactic approach to the delivery of normative technical information and architectural skill sets is avoided. Students are assisted in developing an individual architectural, cultural and theoretical preoccupations which can inform and direct their studies. 

I focus on the design and investigation of architectural landscapes and anthropogenic environments scrutinizing man’s role in the historical and contemporary development of landscapes.

The Unit develops new techniques for drawing, modelling and narrative construction by which architectural space and conceptual themes are worked and represented. We challenge normative methods with modified compositions, multiple exposures and panoramic viewpoints that can allow, tangible recordings, ephemeral states and fictional events to coexist to produce correspondingly multivalent architectural proposals

Themes and pedagogy developed via the Bartlett teaching programmes are explored via international workshops with very disparate student groups and using unfamiliar and sometimes ‘live’ sites. These events broaden and adapt ones approach to design teaching and allow a cross over of techniques and attitudes through intercultural exchange. Recent workshops have been in Oslo, Australia and Canada (attended by my research and teaching partner Mark Smout) and the ‘LA Super-Workshop’ in January 2011 involving teaching groups from North America and the UK, journalists and landscape writers and curators.

Education

University College London
DipArch, Architecture | 1997
University of North London
BA Hons, Architecture | 1994
Publications