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More with Less: Reimagining Architecture for a Changing World at the Farrell Centre

February 11–June 18, 2023

The Farrell Centre, Newcastle, UK, presents its inaugural exhibition, More with Less: Reimagining Architecture for a Changing World, opening on February 11, 2023.

Four architectural practices and collaborators—Dress for the Weather, McCloy + Muchemwa, Office S&M, and Newcastle University’s Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment—have created installations in the new, light-filled galleries that challenge the ways we conceive, make, and experience architecture in response to the seismic challenges of the climate emergency.

Sustainability is now considered in practically every building project, yet this is insufficient. We must develop new ways to substantially reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment while maintaining – and even enhancing – architecture’s ability to effect critical social, cultural, and technical transformation. Whereas Mies van der Rohe’s adage “less is more” dominated architecture in the mid-twentieth century, we must now find ways to do “more with less.”

Insulation is the starting point for Glasgow studio Dress for the Weather‘s installation: a critical substance that, while concealed from view, plays a significant role in making new and existing buildings more energy efficient. They built a series of scenarios for More with Less to let visitors to investigate insulation’s thermal and experiential performance, providing a poetic yet realistic depiction of the possibilities of this prosaic yet transformational substance.

Presenting McCloy + Muchemwa A seat at the table that investigates our relationship with nature and the role of architecture in mediating it. A spectacular span of landscape emerges from a meeting table around which people are invited to sit and discuss in the installation. By giving nature a tangible seat at the table, this installation urges us to consider architecture and nature as complementary rather than antagonistic, as they so often appear to be.

Office S&M argue in their work Luxurious Thrift that in order to construct pleasant buildings, we must learn to love difficult architecture. A series of interventions within the gallery add a veneer to basic room characteristics such as doors, walls, and windows, calling into question the assumptions that control how we think about and use architectural spaces. The concept presents a colorful and provocative perspective of how energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings may be both functional and enjoyable.

Newcastle University’s Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE) is developing The Living Room, a soft, pleasant, cozy indoor room with thick sculpted walls made of fungal mycelium, sawdust, and wool. This innovative technique employs organic, locally available waste materials and microbial processes to drastically reduce construction’s environmental impact while raising fundamental questions about the nature of architectural forms, structures, and materials, as well as the underlying relationship between built and natural environments.

More with Less’ four installations offer open, experimental, inclusive, and, most all, optimistic ideas of architecture, highlighting architecture’s power to help us adapt in a quickly changing world.

The architects, exhibition curators, Farrell Centre director Owen Hopkins, and assistant curator Lorna Burn, together with Newcastle-based fabricators Raskl and Glasgow-based graphic designers Studio Ilka, collaborated to create the exhibition.

About the Farrell Centre

The Farrell Centre, a new architecture and cities center in Newcastle, UK, will open to the public on February 11, 2023. The Farrell Centre, founded by renowned architect-planner Sir Terry Farrell and part of Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape, is housed in a four-story Victorian structure in central Newcastle that has been converted in a 4.6 million GBP building project. The objective of the center is to broaden the debate about the critical responsibilities that architecture and planning play in the modern world in interesting, inventive, and challenging ways.

The Farrell Centre, which combines a public gallery, research centre, and community space, will be free to the public and will provide a variety of experiences for visitors of all ages. Temporary exhibitions, public lectures and debates, seminars and activities for schools, young people, and community organizations, events for built environment experts, and publications, podcasts, and other digital projects will all be part of the center’s agenda.

Farrell Centre
The Sir Terry Farrell Building
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RD

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