Sash Scott and Tamsin Hanke, Founders, THISS, share their experiences of exploring projects with a strong grounding in context and place.
“As a studio we are underpinned by a converging set of ideas that build around the theme of ‘techno-landscape’, where we explore in an interdisciplinary manner the material and technological making of objects and buildings and their relationship to a wider contextual hinterland.
The genesis of this is our mutual drive to discover the limits and extremes of the built environment, which we see as a means to better understand our place within it and meaningfully contribute as architects. This has manifest through various research projects over the years, commencing with Sash’s documentation of the devastation of Iwate Prefecture’s fishing community after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, and Tamsin’s exploration of Ernst May’s Magnetigorsk and the isolated mono-industrial cities of Russian Siberia. The project and resulting thesis was later recognised with an RIBA Presidents Medal for Dissertation in 2013.
This research has since expanded to include Sash’s unassisted cycle journey from Western Europe to India, and Tamsin’s residency in Iceland mastering Arctic building methodologies. The learnings from these experiences have contributed greatly to the outlook of the studio, which is driven by the same sense of adventure and curiosity that drove these early endeavours
Our pre-occupation with distant and challenging urban environments is coupled with a strong grounding in technology and material practice. As a result our work is simultaneously driven by a firm belief in the value of making objects and buildings as a means to test formal ideas of place and space, with a select set of materials.
This has humble beginnings in things like rudimentary kite technology or analogue CNC machining of fibreboard, but has expanded into vast avenues of enquiry that explore how materials can be manipulated by both digital and analogue means to create wholly unexpected outcomes.
This is most evident in our recent work which is varied in nature but all tied together by the same underlying themes. With Dorsal House we are attempting to push the boundaries of the Passivhaus sustainable building practice to create something ambitious and unexpected, while being completely grounded in its immediate and wider contextual environment. Our recent Resilient Monument project with Issi Nanabeyin, currently in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, explored the role of monuments in our cities and the materials we use to make them, arguing for a less robust material palette that requires constant care and stewardship. Later this year we are building PoliNations, an immersive community-grown forest installation taking place in Birmingham that combines a real garden forest with engineered tree sculptures to celebrate the diversity of Great Britain through Horticulture.
For us these projects represent the culmination of years exploring ideas of ‘techno-landscape’, and we’re really humbled to have already worked with so many amazing people. Looking ahead we are really excited by the increasing variety of our work, and are looking forward to new collaborations and research projects that will continue to push our ideas and expand our horizons. As architects we often have quite defined territories, but we believe in the power of going beyond any confines in order to discover the absolute limit of what is possible. So far this has only strengthened our own research, and we hope to be continually nourished as we galvanize a healthy crop of ideas and projects.”