Mass & Memory


Part of 'Living Space: Defining and Designing the City'

In response to the Rachael Whiteread retrospective at Tate Britain



Mass / Memory

The material of a building expresses its personal history; it reflects the aesthetics of its specific time and place and it wears the stains of its years of occupation. In this session we will use the space of Tate Modern to explore ideas of mass and memory by looking closely at concrete. We will map the traces of construction processes visible in the original Turbine Hall building and the new Switch House, engaging with the space through drawing and model making. We will use these artefacts to discuss our own experiences of history in the city, and ask how buildings can be designed to respond to different perceptions of a place.

Link to an overview of the full programme:

Concrete Casting Marks

Rubbings taken from the surface of cast in-situ concrete in Tate Modern, looking at how the patterns of formwork and shuttering carry a memory of their construction.

Casting from the structures of Tate Modern

A process of casting similar to the paper mache techniques used by Whiteread in her sculptural works. This was applied to the structural frame of the Turbine Hall to capture the traces of construction processes and the memory of making captured in the material, used as a way to critique the architectural practice of 'retained facades'.

Textures of Home

Impressions taken from the surfaces of programme participant's homes, recast in paper mache. The techniques of casting echo those employed by Whiteread, used as a way to discuss material memory and emotional association, the layers of personal history apparent in an architectural surface fragment. 

Link to the Week 3 programme