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London South Bank University: Department of Architecture and Design

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A strong mixture of approaches, but the LSBU show’s curatorship lacks attention to detail, writes Kaye Alexander

London South Bank is undoubtedly the quietest of the London summer shows. The show, at the Keyworth building near Elephant and Castle, has much more the feel of an educational institution than of an annual cultural bash, which some of the other London shows have become.

Most striking is the diversity of work; rather than a ‘house style’, we find instead a collection of approaches which (at diploma level) were roughly aligned by studio. It left the exhibition as a whole slightly lacking in identity, message or critical thrust. Most frustratingly, the studios and individual projects were not clearly introduced nor labelled. Many of the projects were sufficiently well-drawn to be guessed-at, but it felt like there were lots of ideas on the walls that were being overlooked simply for the lack of a short synopsis.

Thankfully much of the work survived this oversight. Helped along by a consistent use of models, there were strong individual performances at Part 1 level, and studio-wide successes at Part 2. Studio 6 abandoned architecture’s pursuit of the unimpeachably cool and gave it a good kicking in the form of proposals for ‘Hotel Babylon’. The sharpest of these dystopian, pop-cultural critiques was a proposal for a neo-fascist block, on the top corner of which stands a solid-gold effigy of Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua - shades of Mies’ original sketches for the Barcelona pavilion.

The highlight of the show was the work of Studio 8, intensive explorations of data analysis and scripting software. The result was a sequence of beautiful models and intriguing structures which weren’t driven purely by their own virtue as sculptural objects, but had the feel of investigations.

Kaye Alexander is the AJ’s technical editor

Resume: A strong mixture of approaches, but curatorship lacks attention to detail

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