Dip 13’s collection of experimental ornament for the twenty-first century takes off from Owen Jones’s seminal The Grammar of Ornament (1856). Each student developed a catalogue of iconographic, naturalist, geometric and materialist ornament for a new embassy in central London.
Their Reformed Grammar of Ornament was developed into architectural details pertaining to structure, circulation, surfaces, joints, openings and services. From these established loci of ornamental performance a new ornate architecture emerged. Idiosyncratic ornamental languages were tested against a highly charged site, the complexities of national identity, contemporary political and cultural desires of representation, aesthetic traditions and functional requirements for beauty, meaningful expression and material sophistication.
In Regent’s Park, David convoluted the territory into a neo-art-nouveau whiplash for a divided post-colonial Belgium. Chen amalgamated Chinese ornamental with English picturesque landscape traditions to create a mountainous twenty-first-century chinoiserie. Eli’s Brazilian embassy redeems the material failure of white wall modernism through indigenous ornamental figuration, whereas Fredrik’s manga-architecture confronts the obsessive Japanese manipulations of nature with western metamorphic prototypes such as rustication and arboreal structural metaphors. On Belgrave Square, Aram adopted a neo-orientalist approach in designing a sexually charged veil projecting the Turkish habit of nomadic assimilation. Joy’s embassy for Thailand reconfigures the neoclassical site by means of Thai ceramic craft and marries it to the western cultivar of the billboard. Alma’s system of ornament oscillates between Egypt’s ancient fantasy and Islamic presence as it combines figuration based on the lotus with abstract arabesques, while Kai’s Chinese embassy employs Semperian concepts to weave an architectural cloak of visual censorship into the site. At New Zealand House on Pall Mall, Eyal created iterations of Dutch hydrophobia in the form of rippling brick curtain walls. Hyun-Young sliced cracked voids through the building, upon which ornamental motifs project the desires of a split Korean nation. Jaime conquered the building’s mid-century purity with lavish Mexican neo-churrigueresque ornament in an exemplary process of constructional occupation. Behold the rise of a new world of ornament!