Blueprint's Pick of 2016 Graduates\

Blueprint's team of architects, designers and critics scoured the UK for the very best of the graduate work on offer this year and included Oliver Beetschen and Jonathan Piper's; Architectural Assistants at Hawkins\Brown, final Masters thesis project.

I first came across Oliver and Jonathan's work whilst looking through CV's in June. We were keen to recruit part 2's that were able to collaborate with us to deliver the most complex projects the practice is currently working on, Crossrail. It was immediately evident that they had spent the past year engaging with the challenges faced by our teams which was the consideration of the complex interface between various programmes within the Crossrail stations and associated over site development, combining mixed uses that met the need of each community the station served.

As mass urbanisation affects every city in the world, the need for densification around our transport nodes will need to be considered. What will make the design of these places successful is how well they integrate into the city.

Their final Master's thesis project was developed within a studio run by Liam Ross at The University of Edinburgh entitled 'Architecture & Infrastructure iv: Tokyo Hauntology' - which explored the Hauntological character of the city through a specific technical and cultural lense. It considered the ways in which contemporary Japanese building practices have developed in response to the countries past catastrophes. Their proposal, in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo, explores the social and cultural impact of infrastructure, and sought to offer a poignant critique on the dangers of alienation in a system of advanced capitalism.

In the scenario presented by Beetschen, Morjaria and Piper there is a moral tale to the iconic Otemachi tower. A worker might rise from the bottom rung of the tower up through the corporate ladder only to find themselves at the pinnacle in an asylum for those who have failed in attempting suicide — a poignant critique on the dangers of alienation in a system of advanced capitalism.

Recognising that a set of problems in contemporary Japan – technological malfunction, airborne disease and suicide – concentrate spatially around areas of high-rise development, particularly the financial district, the building takes its role in mitigating against these problems as its core architectural concern. Its architecture develops from the detailed resolution of a range of building-engineering concerns – stability, egress, ventilation, edge-protection – and the physical expression - much like the works of Piano and Rogers, Weber and Brand, or Ludwig Leo.

Understanding the phenomena of ‘Moral Hazard’ – the fact that, as we become insured against a specific risk, we behave more hazardously – it seeks to expose the infrastructures of risk mitigation as a means to make us more conscious of the risks that the building is both constructing, and mitigating.

“Awaiting visitors to the degree show in the Matthew Gallery was a striking floor-to-ceiling array of skyscrapers finely drawn in elevation.”

Johnny Tucker, Blueprint Judge

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