t-sa forum

t-sa forum is an architectural workshop run by London practice
Toh Shimazaki Architecture (t-sa.) Its aim is to support students’ academic development in close association with professional practice by providing a platform for research that allows students to carry out critical investigations according to their own interests and ideas.


Con•text
con: together   text: weaving

Architectural design can be a long and complex process. From project inception, through design process, construction and onto building occupation, our involvement in the projects does not really stop, and continues throughout the lives of the buildings in use. Architecture is of course not just a paper exercise and there is a long design and construction process before user occupation.

In the process of architectural design and construction, there are many ‘ingredients’ outside of architectural concepts and technical issues that would influence the course of the design and the finished building. These may include, client brief, construction budget, site constraints, site investigations and discoveries, context, the economic or political climate and statutory regulations.

Through the experience of our practice, we find one of our main challenges during this process is how to retain and realise each architectural aim or vision throughout this long and complex process. We know that the constraints change constantly during the design process influenced by the various ingredients including some of those above.

At Toh Shimazaki Architecture, we are conscious of striving to arrive at an architectural design methodology or a principle that would cope well with these influences. We do this by being inclusive of these ‘ingredients’, rather than to conflict with them in order to arrive at the architectural aims. The architecture is enriched if the principle accommodates and absorbs these ingredients.




The Course

Under the overall theme of ‘Context & Craft - Adaptable Narratives’, participants are encouraged to develop their own architectural proposals.

Elements of the brief are based on t-sa’s projects or other interesting subjects. Sites on which the practice are working are often assigned to the students. The client for the site is asked to be involved with the briefing and the final crit, and consultants including structural engineers and contractors join the debates and assessments.

Students have weekly tutorials with t-sa forum tutors and the staff from Toh Shimazaki Architecture, (t-sa), who support the participants throughout the course.

By the end of the course, students are expected to have produced a final work that summarises their proposal. This work should meet the standard of a fabricated artefact, an installation, a part of a building or a set of drawings that display a high level of material and conceptual refinement. These proposals are to be shaped by the inclusive, adaptable narrative process of the ‘ingredients’ particular to the project. The final work is assessed by the client, t-sa forum tutors, t-sa staff and visiting practitioners in a final presentation and a group review. Final works are published in the t-sa forum book or on the website.

In addition to practical work in the studio and on building sites, the course includes office visits and evening lectures with some of the most exciting talents in the UK, Japan and other countries.