Architectural Imaginaries: Architectural design and science fiction

This project will produce an ‘architecture and science fiction’ publication, containing science fiction research and design activities for young people to explore imagined futures through architectural design. It will involve working with science fiction scholars and the social enterprise STORE to inspire young designers interested in shaping our built future.

Department: Architecture

Supervised by: Amy Butt

The Placement Project

Before construction all architectural projects are works of science fiction (sf), speculative proposals for an imagined future. This project draws upon increasing interest in architectural imaginaries by considering the built environment in sf, to reflect on urban design and engage with futures under construction. It is part of a longer-term research project being undertaken by Amy Butt that explores the potential of sf as a critical tool within architectural design and pedagogy. This UROP project will develop a learning resource publication and online resource for school students aged 15-18 with an interest in architecture or design futures. It will contain a rich visual reference of architecture and science fiction urban futures, and design activities which can be done by young people. This publication will build on work gathered during an architecture summer school run in 2020 with STORE, a social enterprise which aims to broaden participation in design education, for young people interested in studying architecture. An exciting group of young sf scholars worked Amy Butt to produce this summer school: Sing Yun Lee, Katie Stone, Avery Delany and Rachel Hill. The successful student will work closely with these scholars to gather materials across literature, anthropology, art, architecture and games design. This research will be combined with example drawing and model making activities, and the successful student will suggest and develop activities to supplement the summer school activities. In supporting this work, the student will be using the imaginary spaces of sf to engage young people in architectural design.


Supervised by the PI, the successful candidate will: undertake online bibliographical and archival research to supplement the academic and architectural project materials which are already gathered – creating an extended resource of architectural and science fiction materials, interview contributing sf scholars to formalise the scope of scholarship addressed, develop a bibliography, format the primary design materials which have already been produced by young people, develop methods for representing design activities as part of the learning resource, develop suggestions for additional design activities or workshops to be included in the publication, develop layouts and design strategies for the print publication, undertake the layout and formatting of the print publication, assist in the development of an online resource.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Good written communication skills; Interest in architecture, science fiction, genre fiction and graphic design; Excellent graphic design skills (essential); Competence with Adobe Suite (Photoshop, InDesign); Attention to detail; Knowledge of how to use libraries and online resources for research purposes; The ability to work independently and as part of a team; Organizational and time management skills. This project will be of particular interest to students enrolled in architecture, typography, literature, film or art programmes, and to students in arts and humanities programmes more widely.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will gain first-hand experience in the production of collaborative inter-disciplinary research by working alongside scholars in the fields of architecture, anthropology, illustration and literature. Through these discussions they will gain an enhanced knowledge of imagined futures as an exciting emerging research field, as well as gaining a broader understanding of the fields of game design, graphic design, film, and architectural design. They will develop: Academic research skills in the development of the references and reading list for the publication; Analytical skills in evaluating the materials to include into the publication, Interview skills in discussing the work with the specialist scholars, Research communication and presentation skills in developing a design for the learning resource which is accessible to young people; Design and creative skills in graphic design through formatting and laying out the publication, as well as a hands-on experience of making a publication. In addition, the UROP student will have the opportunity to gain an insight into teaching and learning processes through the development of design workshop activities for the publication. The student will be recognised as a research contributor.

Place of Work

This work can be undertaken remotely. There will be workspace available at the School of Architecture London Road Campus upon arrangement.

Hours of Work

The successful student will arrange a flexible working schedule with Amy Butt.

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 14 June 2021 - Friday 30 July 2021

How to Apply

The post will be advertised centrally on the UROP website between 22nd February and 9th April 2021. Interested students should submit a 2 page cv (listing key skills and including samples of design, art or graphic works), and a cover letter explaining their interest in the project to Amy Butt ( Applications will be assessed based on skills and experience as well as enthusiasm for the project. Successful candidates will be invited to interview.

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