Remembering the Future
Created by Carolyn Defrin with Paul Burgess, Levitt Bernstein architects and older residents housed by Hammersmith United Charities
The London Festival of Architecture's Where do you think you are? exhibition at St. Paul's Centre in Hammersmith, June 2017
Critical Care Symposium, Borough Road Gallery London South Bank University, March 2018
"an opportunity to fuse architectural practice and expression with artistic vision and expression." -Tim Hughes, Chief Executive Director, Hammersmith United Charities
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"It was interesting how the first project we worked on was inherently architectural and not a large step from our usual work – with us helping to present a series of scale plans and models of resident’s current homes. The interesting layer that then brought everything together was the films and ‘memories’ of the residents themselves, which was a much more from the realm of theatre and cinematography.
An architect (who I can’t remember the name of!) once said about his/her generally monochrome buildings that – ‘people provided the colour’. Hearing such interesting stories about resident’s homes... has helped to reinforce this idea, which is very much linked to one of our practice’s key philosophies that buildings should always be designed with people at their heart." -Tom Randle, Senior architect Levitt Bernstein
“I met my wife while we were living in Shepherd’s Bush…actually she picked me up at a dance…that was war time, Acton Town Hall…that was always crowded, big bands- that was our era, big bands” -Bob
"I love cricket and I play a little volleyball, but I love cricket. You know about cricket do you? Good. I like the old players…you know Beefy?... Clive Lloyd. Not them other ones- I’ll watch them, but I’m not too keen on them.
The older you get the way you feel in your way, you know what I mean?"- Peggy
"The exhibit served as a vehicle to give voice to, and revealed the rich and diverse lives and memories of, older Hammersmith residents. People not always heard. The label of age was stripped away, and we saw and heard the fun loving and gregarious youthful selves; people shaped by the locality, work and family life, and by war" .- Tim Hughes, former CEO HUC
I used to be a dancer…and I loved this teacher who taught about ‘labile’- off the straight and narrow where the classical people are- used to go in between
We had a wonderful 14 lines- Used to use the cube- and it went through all structure of straight and…but it went through all the different diagonals – and we used to do lovely movements and I loved that because you felt you were going somewhere- you know…you’re not being stiff....
It’s very movable ‘round here
We’re not on top of each other with our open doors
And we seem to float around quite easy everybody
And Then When you get outside the door- then you’ve get another element into the roads, so you find that when you’re in here you do feel different
You are very contented and You have your own way of moving and feeling and living
And when you go out- you can then get on with the outside world and do your other bits
“My memories of Kenya, Nairobi, Mumbasa- vivid. I don’t know if it’s just my childish imagination. But I can smell it I can taste it…
When I came over here- it was so alien, that I remember spending as a kid, trying to dream of back home... And England was grey…black and white. The noise and the sound and the unpredictability of everything- whereas here everything is linear and straight. Nice and neat.”- Dinesh, Sycamore House resident
“The thing I love most about here is the peace- a couple of years ago we had a pair of disabled hedgehogs here as pets. One of the things I used to do is get up at night and sit outside and watch them milling around in the garden- wondering what the hell they were doing in this garden
You can actually feel the quality of the silence..you can reach out and pull it down over you. It’s just extradordinary silence and then about 6’o clock the birds start chirping” -Clodagh
“I think it’s the people, having company all the time. Always there’s someone here. Even they don’t come, you can see them.”- Elsie
“The specific reason I came here was because I was mugged twice outside the flat where I lived…and I’d lost a lot of confidence about going out…and I also realized that having had, while I was married, a huge garden which I worked in, um…I needed somewhere where I could garden—express myself through a garden.” -Clodagh
My kitchen is a good size which I like- forget about the big room- I like a decent kitchen
I like baking—I have to be in the mood- if I bake it, I’m going to eat it and that is the problem- so it’s best I keep away, you know what I mean? “cause I’m not going to waste it. So sometimes when I bake I call my friends and tell ‘em I’m gonna do some baking, so pass ‘round and take some-‘cause if not, I’m in trouble" -Peggy
Remembering the Future
"A sticky jammy dodger and crocheted places for my hands to sit. I love projection that hits actual things, the physical blueprint of the house, balsa-ed up into spaces - quite cold and alien - and the framing of the residents , their places and their memories. Two disabled hedgehogs and the silence. An intersection of that flimsy construction, the ephemeral projection light and the solid dark furniture seems to activate something of this housing scheme - something of the fragility and solidity of that existence. Nostos and Algia - the reconstruction of the lost home and the longing which delays the homecoming. I move around the space and choose how much time to spend with Bob and how much with Peggy, but what is missed? There is shortbread and a digestive - fake grass too. Where does this spectacle happen? In its arrangements and fragments of encounters. I see the chair, the table and the universal symbol for door placed there. Blueprints leading me back to the building. Flats going up. Section 106 payments not made. Unaffordability. 'There's no strangers, there's no fear'. The aesthetics of housing.
Six people in a semi-circle face each other and watch. Sometimes I watch the person opposite. There is a gentle sense of interaction, a gentle question. the scruff of our neck is not grabbed. Time is in play and the piece settles around us a little more, rather than us being immersed or plunged into an experience. I don't think about my choices as much. This is not time bound. It is an opening in the day to be and distance is allowed." - Jo Scott