How We Live Now
Edit was commissioned by the Barbican to design the 2021 exhibition, How We Live Now, and accompanying alternative exhibition catalogue, to display the work of Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative.
How We Live Now is not a conventional architecture exhibition. The work displayed does not only show a few final, refined pieces, but rather reveals the full process of what it takes to realise an architectural project. The behind the scenes process work — ranging from construction details to emails — has been treated as equally important as final drawings, photos, and models. This is a feminist architecture archive, shown within a structure which strives to make its display accessible and enjoyable to all.
Inspired by political and community groups’ appropriation of informal spaces, the exhibition is arranged to reflect interactions such as meeting in someone’s living room or gathering around a kitchen table. The installation is designed to feel domestic, in contrast to its institutional context. These themes have been expressed in the design through three key moves:
Firstly: scale. Within the vast, Barbican foyer, the exhibition structure creates a smaller space with smaller rooms inside of it. This produces an intimate and comfortable space, made up of domestically-proportioned nooks and rooms.
Secondly: the ‘walls’. Matrix sought to make architecture accessible to those without a formal architectural education. This transparency is reflected in the construction of the ‘walls’, made out of timber studwork, which reference the construction technique typically used to create internal partitions in homes. The exposed bolts, weights and curtain rail help hold this structure together, in the same spirit of honesty.
Thirdly: a metal curtain rail weaves continuously in and out of the walls - much like plumbing might - with a curtain wrapping individual spaces. The curtains bring a feeling of intimacy and allow visitors to interact with and alter the design. By moving the curtains around, one can open up or enclose spaces to create different levels of privacy.