Experimental Architectural Design Lab

Part of the School of Architecture

Subject classification: this is an art and design resource.
Completion status: Deliberately incomplete for educational purposes.
Type classification: this resource is a collection of other resources.

Please help by expanding on this leading article and Resource Collection.

Experimental Architecture is as old as building itself and broadly characterises any studies of architecture, theoretical or practical/built, that diverge from the norm of the day. Many think of work by the group Archigram in the 1960's as the initial defining paradigm of Experimental Architecture. Some practitioners, patrons and critics hold that architecture can be considered experimental by nature.

Fundamental drivers in the public, university and private contexts seem to require at least some level of experimentation; as the adage has it, 'stagnate or die'. This is certainly the case in the current university context, where research (which many use as a thin veil for experimentation) is a core requirement imposed by the degree assessment bodies (RIBA/ARB).

Experimental Architecture in the university context is isolated but not entirely divorced from the endeavour in the context of practice (i.e. the architect's practice as it is traditionally known for taking on paid commissions from clients to design, sometimes procure and oftentimes oversee the construction of a building project).

Whilst this isolation of higher education's experimentation initially sounds problematic, it is effective and ultimately essential to remove some element of the research and experimentation gamut from the commercial pressures of traditional architecture practice. In this way, Experimental Architecture in the university context can be seen as a manifestation of the 'laboratory' metaphor in its truest sense, such that the output is an advancement of the field but not one that is necessarily commercially driven or marketable.

Commercial practice can be seen as the melting pot of inspiration, aspiration, research, experimentation, reality and the end user (either owners, tenants or simply 'beings' of one form or another - think of a zoo or aviary).

Current Experimental Design Resources include:

- Lunar Boom Town Lunar Boom Town
- AA (Architectural Association)
- MIT EDG (Emergent Design Group - MIT)