EXPO(SÉ)! - Bartlett BSc Architecture Unit 4 - Luke Pearson and Ana Monrabal-Cook



'Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.' - George Orwell

In 2020 Silicon Valley hopes to hold an International Exposition, which will be the third such event in the San Francisco area's lifetime. The Exposition as an architectural construction exists in a dichotomy, at once sprawling, colourful, wilfully silly, yet carefully promoting the interests and investments of nation states and multinational corporations.

Architects have an inextricable link to those who wield power in society. Now more than ever, the production of visualisations, masterplans, sketches and films are tightly controlled to appeal to the senses of those who hold political or financial capital. It is through physical manifestations of these desires that the architects of the many follies and pavilions of International Expos have played with their audience's visual, consumerist and symbolic appetites.

The Expo provides a forum for nations to export themselves and their culture. Constructs of the power, attitude and philosophies of nations are sent across the globe for the consumption of other cultures. Crystal Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Barcelona Pavilion and many more, have become architectures far beyond the Expo itself, becoming cultural icons that define the city they reside in.

San Francisco as a city embodies the counter-culture of the United States, yet this "free thinking" has led to it becoming the world's capital of the digital industries, where new models of control weave their way into our lives at an ever-increasing pace. With this comes unlimited access to information, the new commodity, our global gateway. But just as World's Fairs paint a controlled picture of international culture - the Olympic games of the economy, science and industry - so our remote personal perception of the world is affected by information brokering.

Winning the bid to host an International Expo involves a highly competitive selection process. An idealised version of the city is exported to the selection panel far in advance of the public event. The perceived benefits for a city and immediate international attention can act as catalyst for growth or as a distraction from societies real problems. Is it all bread and circus?

We ask you to consider an Architectural Exposé as a counterpoint to the tightly controlled dissemination of cultural ideas in the Exposition. Exposé implies the reveal of something secret, (un)desirable, a hard truth or grotty titillation. It is the opposite to the masquerade of the World's Fair.


We ask you to develop your year through investigations into the intertwining modes of architectural representation, and how this directly relates to the contradiction that San Francisco often represents. The play between digital and physical drawing and modelling. The boundaries between freedom and control. The shifting relationship between different communities and their histories. The topography and climate. The permanent and the pop-up. We anticipate studies into the production of:

- Hybridised drawings and models, that express architectures in the context of the narrative they reveal about the city around them. You will investigate how 2D and 3D techniques intertwine, and how the technologies of digital fabrication, meet the traditional tools of the architect. Do you hand paint 3D prints like a digitised Grayson Perry, produce drawings at multiple angles and perspectives like Bryan Cantley, or storyboard your architecture into a three dimensional cartoon?

- You will editorialise your portfolio into bespoke publications. Your counterpunch to the glossy corporate brochure. Does your portfolio scream excess, showing the clashes and friction of your design process as if it were a grubby tabloid spread, or do you hold a refined aesthetic, creating a sleek, sophisticated publication or the mad professor trying to reconcile ideas through scribbled notes in the margin? How does your portfolio become entirely appropriate to the project it represents, and how does the way you articulate your portfolio feed back into your architecture.