LISTEN:

“With our exhibit, it’s not just about the physicality of design, but also how socially and mentally the place sits within our societies. It’s about how design and art and pubs knit together both physically within communities but also societally, and how it taps into different sides of our psyche. ” 

Madeleine Kessler

This episode:

The Stuart Semple Show delves into different industries to bring you the latest insights from leading creative minds. In episode 8, host Stuart Semple invites socially driven architect Maddie Kessler to talk about her recent British Pavilion project.

Kessler is the founder of Unscene Architecture, a creative endeavour that seeks to ‘reveal the unseen forces that shape our cities’. In this thought-provoking hour, Kessler and Semple discuss the relationship between the self and public spaces and the battle to make architecture a vessel for social change. 

This episode covers

  • The British Pavilion
  • Ownership of data
  • Rethinking social spaces for the 21st century
  • Land ownership in England
  • Value system shifts 
  • Loneliness and infrastructure

Links & references

Madeleine Kessler Website:

https://www.madeleinekessler.com/

Unseen Architecture:

https://www.unscenearchitecture.com/

Maddie Kessler Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/maddie_kessler_/

Stuart Semple Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/stuartsemple/

Stuart Semple Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/MrStuartSemple/

Stuart Semple Website: 

http://stuartsemple.com/

Culture Hustle: 

https://culturehustle.com/

 

Episode highlights:

“It’s a crazy project. You’ve got all these countries around the world being represented by different architects. I always think of it more like Eurovision or something with all these different countries coming together. Essentially, we were commissioned by the British Council through a competition that we entered an open call for, that they put out every other year and we won. We have been working with the British Council to realise the Pavilion ever since. ” – Maddie Kessler – 01:16

“With our exhibit, it’s not just about the physicality of design, but also how socially and mentally the place sits within our societies. It’s about how design and art and pubs knit together both physically within communities but also societally, and how it taps into different sides of our psyche. ” – Maddie Kessler – 09:21

“What really freaks me out is the fact that moving through public space generates a data footprint that someone I don’t know has access to and can use in ways that I have no say about. That’s fundamentally and morally wrong.” – Stuart Semple – 16:19

“There is a big risk aversion in society. I’m not as convinced as I was a few months ago that it’s just a generational thing. It’s been seeping in since the 80s, the fear of the other, fear of the stranger. The radius that kids move around freely has reduced over time. We’re scared of the other. When you really look at risk from a cultural point of view, it’s the strongest commodity we’ve got.” – Stuart Semple – 20:20

“How can we have bottom-up approaches to land ownership? How can we come together as communities to decide what’s going to happen with land in our communities and collectively transform it?” – Maddie Kessler – 44:05

“So instead we’ve put them on display. So you can poke through a window and see the toilets, but you can’t actually use them. In a way, I think that makes a point.” – Maddie Kessler – 46:08

“Something I love about architecture is that it’s a conversation about the city at every scale, from the most strategic master planning scales right down to the detail of a toilet seat. All of that makes a difference in the way that people experience their public space. I do a lot of work with the National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Group, where we try to get people who are strategic-decision makers and politicians to think about design from the earliest stages.” – Maddie Kessler – 47:43

“I think that then the value system changes because it moves from commerce to people and you put people before profit. As soon as you do that, you create a different outcome. So you say it’s beautiful to have a park, it makes people feel great. We don’t have to have a mucky water plant, we can have something beautiful. But there needs to be a certain shift in perspective to see the value in that.” – Stuart Semple – 57:55

“At the NIC, I was looking at researching the relationship between loneliness and infrastructure. So, how can we use design to create meeting places and combat loneliness within our cities? Because our cities are designed with more and more lonely spaces.” – Maddie Kessler – 59:52

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