Restore Talks: Architecture
Programmed to celebrate the Design Researchers in Residence: Restore exhibition, this event features two conversations on architecture and the city in the age of environmental crises.
First, we hear from acclaimed writer and curator Ekow Eshun and Thomas Aquilina, a Design Researcher in Residence at the museum. Building on Ekow's mentorship of Thomas during his residency, the discussion will centre on themes of environmental justice, diasporic identities and the urban landscape of London that have been percolating in both their work over recent years. In addition, the pair will discuss 'In the Black Fantastic', a new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery curated by Ekow.
Next, Nicholas Lobo Brennan and Astrid Smitham of Apparata Architects will join Researcher in Residence Delfina Fantini van Ditmar to discuss ways of designing buildings using fewer materials and the limits of the net zero agenda. The conversation will draw on Apparata's celebrated House for Artists project in Barking, East London, and Delfina's research into domestic heating and materiality in a speculative future.
APPARATA is a studio for architecture, design and research. They design and construct buildings, furniture and books: tools for everyday life that open up unknown possibilities. They work with how things are put together: materials, structures, identities, communities, landscapes. The studio has recently completed A House for Artists, a new form of low rent co-housing combined with community arts centre in Barking, London. It is one of the Observer’s best 5 buildings of 2021.
Delfina is a researcher and lecturer at the RCA's Design Products + Futures Programme. She has a transdisciplinary background linking design research, critical algorithmic studies, architecture and ecology. She holds a BA in Biology and completed a PhD at the RCA. Responding to environmental crisis from a systemic perspective, her research examines dematerialisation – an act of removing unecological behaviours and materiality from the world as a necessary paradigm shift for the design sector.
Ekow is a writer, curator, journalist and broadcaster. He is the Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group overseeing London’s most significant public art programme, Creative Director of Calvert 22 Foundation, and former Director of the ICA. He is the author of Black Gold of the Sun: Searching for Home in England and Africa, nominated for the Orwell prize, and the editor of Africa Modern: Creating the Contemporary Art of a Continent.
Thomas is an architect and academic dedicated to building communities of radical thought and progressive practice. He is a co-director of the New Architecture Writers programme and is a co-founder of publishing collective Afterparti. He holds the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation Fellowship at the London School of Architecture and is an associate lecturer at London Metropolitan University.
Future Observatory is coordinated by the Design Museum in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) which is part of UK Research and Innovation, funding independent researchers in a wide range of subjects from history and archaeology to philosophy and languages, design and effectiveness of digital content and the impact of artificial intelligence.
Background image by Thomas Aquilina; Ekow Eshun portrait by Antonio Olmos.