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ADS4: Plots, Props & Paranoia – How Architecture Stages Conspiracy

Ayesha Silburn

Ayesha Silburn’s work navigates research into themes of language, new normals, hyper-consumerism and surrealist design techniques. Through the creation of new worlds and stories that help to provoke an engagement with an ever-changing society, her work adopts a speculative and critical design approach in order to evoke new design philosophies. Ayesha's production of work often questions relationships between contemporary technology, culture, and environment to imagine new ways of living, seeing and acting.  

Having previously studied at Camberwell College of Art & Design and Central St. Martins, Ayesha’s work and design practice has pursued architecture through multiple scales and an interdisciplinary approach. Prior to the RCA, her design experience has ranged from working in architectural practice, exhibitions and concept store design, where Ayesha's work was shortlisted for the design of a new retail store part of LVMH. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, Ayesha intends to continue to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to her work, amongst practices with a similar focus on speculative and critical design.


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Degree Details

School of Architecture

ADS4: Plots, Props & Paranoia – How Architecture Stages Conspiracy

Today the world is polluted by the aftermath of overconsumption. We have reached a point in time where we are witnessing the effects of living in a society of ‘excess’, where conspicuous consumption, rapid urbanisation and growing populations are now the main contributors to our global waste crisis.

In response to these issues, the project sets itself in a near-future, imagining the UK after 2030. It poses a scenario in which the UK has enforced a new ‘Waste-Ban Legislation’, urging a series of societal paradigm shifts to encourage a renewal of conventional behaviours. The scheme is designed through the eyes of a newly developed society of Hoarders and "Rugged Consumers", postulating patterns and connections between unrelated things.

Set within a new post-consumer society, the project aims to make the complexity of a hyper-object like the global waste crisis more tangible, by making perceptible its effects on the future at three varying scales: the Home, the City and the Landfill. At the scale of the home, the characters rely on ‘The Unlearning Machine’ as a vital apophenic prop. Mass produced as the last essential household product necessary for living in a new zero-waste world, the intention of the machine is to place familiar objects in unfamiliar scenarios through (mis)using digital object and image recognition tools to assign alternative uses for existing objects.

At the city scale, the scheme explores misuse through the lens of architectural practice, speculating on how one might derive a new architectural language that plays on scale, form and legibility, producing a form of architectural hoarding. The result is a surrealist cityscape that reimagines the morphology of the town centre, using the juxtaposition of re-appropriated cultural objects and existing architecture, with alternative programmes cater to a new post-consumer society. The design intention within these scales is to merge the macabre and the mundane, as the social and economic consequences of a post-consumer society begin to infiltrate the city.

The Aesthetics of Misuse aims to show people that more tangible, alternative narratives are possible for us to live together in a post-anthropocentric society. Intending to kindle a sense of actionable hope, the project proposes a necessity for misuse by exposing language as a fundamental tool for thriving amongst the new zero-waste agenda. Together, the domestic props, the surrealist-city views, and the landfill artefacts tell a narrative of the adaption and adoption of extreme measures that society will have to make in order to survive and prosper amongst the detritus of this new world.

The Aesthetics of Misuse | Mitigating Excess

The Aesthetics of Misuse | Mitigating Excess

The Power of the Hoard | Jane Bennett's Theory of Increasing Strength's of Bond Between Human & Non-Human Bodies

The Power of the Hoard | Jane Bennett's Theory of Increasing Strength's of Bond Between Human & Non-Human Bodies

A Methodology for Unlearning

A Methodology for Unlearning

Scalable landscapes 01 — Noticing the future agency of assemblages, the architect constructs an alternative vision for Bedford in order to fulfil the requirements of the local plan. The result is an architectural language that plays on scale, form and legibility, producing a form of architectural hoarding.

Scalable landscapes 02 — Witnessing the agency of the architect’s model in the design of the local plan, landscape elements are enlarged and experienced as forms of public sculpture. The moment explores an enjoyable ambiguity in which the human interferes and manipulates the real world.

Scalable landscapes 03 — Designing in the context of the hoard, the architect responds to requirements for the relocation of Marston Vale’s Forest throughout the city. Landscape elements become experienced through the adaptation of scale, form and materiality, altering the perception of its historic features.

Scalable landscapes 04 — Existing amongst a consumer-heavy context, programmatic functions are designed to provide spaces of leisure and civic activities to cater to issues of mass consumerism and excess within a post-retail landscape.

Re-imagining the Landfill; A scenario for a third transformation of the site — The final scale looks at Bedford’s Elstow Landfill site, which is similarly expected to reach full capacity by 2022. With the intention to reduce the overall capacity by 80% the landfill uses similar processes of the unlearning machine to re-classify objects into new categories of use. The landfill site is thereby transformed as objects are categorised by these classifications and place into their designated allotments.

Re-imagining the Landfill; A scenario for a third transformation of the site — The intention of the landfill is to act as a landscape for re-designated objects, which will be later located and used in the construction of new forms and elements that may begin to emerge throughout the city. The ambition is to establish a new productive cyclical relationship between each of these investigated scales in order to imagine what it may feel like to inhabit a new city that follows the impacts of a zero-waste society.

Bedford's Elstow Landfill | Pre-2030

Bedford's Elstow Landfill | Post-2030

A Proposal for Bedford's Elstow Landfill Site
The Aesthetics of Misuse
ADS4AssemblageConspiracyCritical DesignLanguageMisuseNew NormalsOver ConsumptionSpeculative DesignSurrealism

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