Tom Emerson; Stephanie Macdonald; John Ross; Owen Watson
The work of 6a is a litany of disciplined materials, transformations of existing structures, weavings of new and old, always inventive, always sensual. Their South London Gallery exposes structure, controls light, folds space and absorbs landscape. The 18th-century building, which houses the Contemporary Art Exhibition Centre Raven Row, has been awakened through their skillful understanding of history and subsequent layering. Bringing materials to life seems to be a central ingredient of their work: timber in various forms; a green oak staircase of the Belvedere Zollikon enabling views across Lake Zurich; the concrete of Jürgen Teller’s Photographic Studio; the cast-iron facade of Paul Smith’s Albemarle Street store. A sumac and a eucalyptus tree are active participants in their space-making, as a pair of 1830’s cottages are modified. For this Biennale Architettura, 6a focus on their student residence for Churchill College, University Cambridge, where un-treated, reclaimed oak forms the new ‘bark’ of the building, where new oak contrasts with old, adding refinement. The newly-planted birch forest in the courtyard, resonates with the Greek Proverb embedded in the FREESPACE manifesto.