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Thursday24 July 2014

Introducing Polyport (Polyark III)

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The education collaboration project is back with a new brief and a new batch of international participants

In January 2011, eight UK schools met for a SuperMegaCrit in London to discuss their group projects based on the brief: “Now that railways run on different fuels, how can the vacated coal, water and gas-based backland archaeology of the railways be creatively used for new purposes?”

The students were joined by tutors, interested practitioners, ex Cedric Price office staff, critics and journalists to discuss the work produced and to provoke questions about architectural education and the practice in general. This was the first revival of Cedric Price’s original Polyark project.

This year we see the launch of the third Polyark: Polyport.

The teams this year will be made up of students from across the world including the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport in Egypt, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Peru and Ion Mincu in Romani, as well as students from UK universities including Westminster, Brighton and Greenwich.

Their brief, set by the RIBA, will be to propose a visionary, adaptive future architecture particular to, and responsive to, the activities of ports and the edge conditions found between land and water.

Price’s own proposal for the redevelopment of the Hamburg Docks was to make a significant proportion of it into wetland for the migrating birds that were known to stop off there to feed.

The RIBA published brief outlines the role of the port in the architectural imagination: “The port is a powerful catalyst for urbanisation irrespective of geography, topography, or culture. Ports are developed from the accident of deep water found near to land - water that allows the draught of mighty ships to come close to the land, and load or unload valuable cargo. Found both on the sea and at the river’s edge, and operating at all scales from the containerised megaports of Ningbo, Shanghai and Singapore to the intimately charming havens of Hoi-An, Kotor and Port Grimaud, the port is a special functional and architectural type.”

Each school will write its own interpretation of the Polyport brief and specify a site. These will then be passed on to another school, so no school will work on its own brief or on its own site. The schools will then be divided into teams made up of two UK schools and one international school. In September 2013, all the schools will meet in Rome for the final SuperMegaCrit.

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