Dafni Filippa: "What if Drawings are Provocations?"

Dafni Filippa: "What if Drawings are Provocations?"

Entries to the annual Architecture Drawing Prize are judged in three categories, hand-drawn, digital and hybrid. Last year, Dafni Filippa, a post-graduate student studying for a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) at the Bartlett School of Architecture, won in the hybrid category and was also judged overall winner of the Prize with her Flood-responsive landscape performance, a virtuoso drawing created through a variety of rendering and modelling techniques produced by hand, in plaster and through and across multiple software platforms.

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A thing of compelling, elegant complexity, depth and strange beauty, Filippa’s drawing represents, in her words, “a multi-scale territory operating under the constant influence of ever-changing ecosystem dynamics. Focused on dense urban habitats and responding to future sea-level rise, my project proposes the deployment of London’s ‘Hidden Rivers’ as a responsive flood defence agent to absorb tidal water accumulations which endanger the city.”

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© Dafni Filippa

Her drawing plunges deep into the London terrain, exploring and explaining geological and artificial strata including escalators and Underground tunnels, stretches of brick, concrete and clay, a hidden river and exquisitely drawn pipes and ducts. This multi-layered drawing is just one of a ‘choreography’ (Filippa’s word) of compelling images the young, Greek-born landscape architect has made to convey the nature of her “Deep Ground” hidden river project. These include a fluid riverine plan depicting the long-buried River Tyburn emerging into the light of Westminster and coursing through imaginative, organically layered parkland beside Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster on its way to join the Thames. 

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© Dafni Filippa

While such a project is unlikely to be realised at any time in the future, Filippa’s drawings command attention. What if? If only! “They are provocations”, she says, “a form of controlled released energy. My concern is with drawings that explore and engage, provoke discussion; drawings to think with and through and to design from. The ‘Deep Ground’ drawings show architecture coming into line with landscape.”

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© Dafni Filippa

Filippa describes them as ‘melancholy’ which might sound odd at first, but when her drawing was put on show, with other prize winning and shortlisted Architectural Drawing Prize entries, at Sir John Soane’s Museum, she looked at the pensively sad yet beguiling paintings of Joseph Gandy, Soane’s supremely talented draughtsman, or “imagineer”, and immediately felt an affinity. Famously, Gandy - an artist in his own right - painted Soane’s latest projects as multi-layered romantic ruins. 

“I could see Gandy pushing his technique, depicting architecture in the process of change, just as I try to in my own way today using any number of overlapping techniques to create . . .” Haunting, I suggest. “Drawings that explore what could be possible.”

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© Dafni Filippa

Sir John Soane’s Museum, with its intricate layering and interweaving of models, paintings, objects, curios, unexpected domes and mirrors, walls opening into unexpected rooms and vistas beyond was a perfect setting for Filippa’s prize-winning drawing. Soane’s collection of models, drawings and paintings of Greek temples were also close to Filippa’s imagination. “Yes, somehow in drawings you can find something of the Greek landscape - architecture choreographed with nature - of ancient history and of my childhood. At school we used to go out and sketch the landscape and these carefully placed buildings. At the Technical University of Munich where I studied for my Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, I learned to draw straight lines and to think rationally and technically.”

At the Bartlett, Filippa’s work demonstrates the two approaches to seeing and drawing coincide, morph and grow. She revels in hand-drawing and model-making as she does in making digital visual programming languages like Grasshopper - popular with architects - dance to her tune. Together these techniques, as her Architecture Drawing Prize entry proved, have allowed her to imagine and give impressive shape to the “Fluid Strata” that are the core of her Bartlett “Deep Ground” project.

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© Dafni Filippa

Significantly, all last year’s Architecture Drawing Prize winners were students. Architectural drawing is far, far from dead. It has, rather, been transmuting on one level into something fresh and exploratory. In doing so, it can, like Dafni Filippa’s work draw us into new ways of thinking about architecture, landscapes and the possibilities of architectural representation itself. Her Master’s degree completed, Filippa now plans to work for an established landscape architecture practice before setting up her own studio. Her participation in The Architecture Drawing Prize has been, she feels, a valuable agency along the way.

The Architecture Drawing Prize is co-curated by Make Architects, Sir John Soane’s Museum and the World Architecture Festival and sponsored by the Iris Ceremica Group with ArchDaily as the headline media partner.

To enter The Architecture Drawing Prize 2022 visit: https://worldarchitecturefestival.com/live/en/page/drawing-prize

The deadline is Friday 9 September 2022

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Cite: Jonathan Glancey. "Dafni Filippa: "What if Drawings are Provocations?"" 26 Aug 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/987875/dafni-filippa-what-if-drawings-are-provocations> ISSN 0719-8884

© Dafni Filippa

2021 建筑绘图奖得主:Dafni Filippa, 如果绘图是一种挑衅?”

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