Advanced Design Studio: Fat Studio: Griffiths / Holland / Jacob

FAT: London


Design and Visualization



Coordinating Faculty

The 2014 FAT studio at Yale will be the practice’s last joint work. As such we thought it would be appropriate to engage in a little revisionist history and base the starting point for the studio on the work of FAT, its methods, techniques, influences and philosophy. The scheduled lecture will be a primer for these exercises.


On the Thursday 27th and Friday 28th August we will undertake a workshop/ seminar with some key examples of London architecture that have been important influences on the work of FAT (Soane, Hawksmoor, Wren, Stirling, The Smithsons/Independent Group, Archigram). Issues such as the philosophical ideas and historical background underpinning these buildings will me discussed along with an analysis of their formal, spatial and technological characteristics. In particular we will be looking at how techniques such as copying, sampling, superimposition, repetition, re-scaling and so are found in these examples. Students will later visit these buildings on their study tour to London.

Week 1

Students will be given one of FAT’s projects. Each student will redraw this in plan / elevation and section and make a model in order to gain an understanding of, and familiarity with, the project in question, hopefully gaining an understanding of the formal and conceptual techniques that form part of each project’s development.

Week 2 and 3

Students will be asked to produce an investigative and speculative piece of work that unravels the techniques, references, and tactics of the above project from their own point of view. They will explore the architectural, artistic and cultural references involved but also bring something of themselves to the process. They will be tasked as translators, psychoanalysts, detectives and architectural historians in the production of this piece.
The idea is not that they will merely faithfully reproduce the narrative of the project as it happened, but rather that they will speculate on other possible narratives, stories, sources and possibilities as a psychoanalyst or detective would in their attempts to diagnose a condition or solve a crime.
The outcome of this process will be a beautifully produced, multi-media mind map (like a detective’s mind map) of the process as they see it. This might include elements of research, 3D elements, video and sound as well as 2D images drawn or otherwise. This will form an important part of the presentation at the mid term jury.
It will serve also as a pro-active design tool for later stages of the project.

Week 4: Study Tour

The proposed site is Nine Elms/Vauxhall Embankment in London. This is one of the large sites currently being developed - the new home of the American Embassy as well as the refurbished Battersea Power Station (with associated projects by Gehry, Foster and many more). Students will visit and record, as well as receive talks by a selection of architects and clients and local authority planners involved in the transformation.
In addition, students will be asked to produce a study of one of the London buildings discussed in the first workshop. Outputs from this are expected to be drawings that explain architectural form, language, reference and tactics in each.

Week 5-8 (to Midterm)

Students will use their ‘Mind Map’ of a FAT project as a starting point to develop three physical architectural models to be sited in Vauxhall. These are intended to be formal studies, exploring the possibilities of re-writing FAT projects through the criteria the students have developed themselves. Emphasis will be on the transformative design process displayed by the students on the original reference. The students will also develop a programme for their sites. These pieces of work, along with the mind map installation will be presented at the mid term jury.

Post Mid Term

Students will choose one of the on-site studies or maybe a combination of all three, to create a parti, which will be the basis of an architectural proposition on the site. The development of the piece of work into a fully resolved architectural proposition will continue until the final jury.
Overall, we intend for the studio to explore what we might call the psychology of FAT’s work, to both refer to the office’s body of work, but also to develop techniques and design approaches that extend the original language.