When Architecture met Performance and Film

FTT students Nozomi Tolworthy and Yvonne Newton recently took their creative thinking beyond Minghella Studios, and worked with architecture staff and students on an exciting outdoor performance space – PER[form].

The Department of Film, Theatre & Television became the School of Architecture’s newest client, as undergraduate students from each worked together to design and build a temporary outdoor performance space. They initially met for a workshop led by artists from both disciplines, including theatre maker Judita Vivas and architect/TV personality Piers Taylor. The students worked together to come up with a basic structural design that would accommodate a performance and an audience, but one which would also work within the practical constraints of the project – time and materials were limited and precious!

Day 2
per[FORM] takes shape on the Reading campus (photo Nozomi Tolworthy)
The Architecture students had a week to build the structure on site, using timber wood as their only material. The students understood that their challenge was to work together to construct a space that had not been intricately planned out on paper. This allowed them to learn about the material as they shaped it, how to adapt to change and how to work effectively as a large team. In short, it was improvised architecture! As Piers Taylor emphasised, this allows the actual building process to become the art of the project, so it’s not just about the end product.

Yvonne, a third-year Theatre student here at FTT, explains how she collaborated with Nozomi (BA Film) and Danny Molyneux (BA Business and Management) to devise an installation called Hear, I Build, about the literal and metaphorical meanings of ‘building’.

“We filmed the architecture students building the structure for a week and made a short video that played in the space. We also recorded the sounds they made using their tools and Danny used them to construct a rhythmic soundscape, which we played through the wood using speakers.”

Day 3 (2)
Nozomi Tolworthy and Yvonne Newton (photo Danny Molyneux)

Elsewhere in their studies, both Yvonne and Nozomi had engaged with ideas of home and belonging, and they were able to incorporate this, too. “We had our final-year film and theatre pieces on display, using iPads, so could introduce those questions of mixed race and cross-cultural experience which are really important to our work.”

The PER[form] stage won’t be around for long, but if you’re heading to Reading for the June Open Days, come and have a look!