Tate Britain Course

Living Space: Defining and Designing the City

Rachel Whiteread, ‘Untitled (Stairs)’ 2001
Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Stairs) 2001. Tate. © Rachel Whiteread

This four-week course will draw on the architectural and spatial aspects of Rachel Whiteread’s work as inspiration and starting point to explore the spaces we inhabit, how our towns and cities are designed, who has a say in what gets built and goes where. 

From the small-scale detail of a door-way to the voids contained within a terrace house, Whiteread’s casting concretizes these absences and makes them visible, allowing us to observe spaces we are used to inhabiting. Her work provides us a with an alternative perspective to ask what these spaces mean to us, how they came to be made and how they have been lived in.

We will use creative methods of drawing and model making to share our experiences of the city and equip ourselves with a working knowledge of architectural design. This will allow us to develop our own ideas about the built environment, and learn how to voice our own opinions about its future. 

Living Space is for adults who are interested in the built environment, who have a fascination with architecture or urban design, or are driven by a desire to influence how the city develops.  No prior knowledge or experience is required.

We are in the process of updating our website and are currently unable to offer online bookings for this event. Please give us a call to book on 020 7887 8888 (9.45 – 18.00 daily)


Scale / Home

Our homes are architecture at its most familiar, we know these buildings intimately and as we inhabit them we make hundreds of tiny changes so that they better reflect who we are and what we need. In this session we will look closely at the domestic space of Whiteread’s work and make measured drawings and large scale models to explore notions of scale. We will use these to discuss the architectural history of housing and the changing guidance which governs domestic design, asking whether these guidelines reflect an ideal home.


Mass / Memory

The material of a building expresses its personal history; it reflects the aesthetics of its specific time and place and it wears the stains of its years of occupation. In this session we will use the space of Tate Modern to explore ideas of mass and memory by looking closely at concrete. We will map the traces of construction processes visible in the original Turbine Hall building and the new Switch House, engaging with the space through drawing and model making. We will use these artefacts to discuss our own experiences of history in the city, and ask how buildings can be designed to respond to different perceptions of a place.


Site / Context

A building in a city like London is rarely seen from a single perspective; rather than seeing the building as a whole we collect an impression of it from views down streets and around corners. In this session we will be using the space of the Whiteread exhibition to explore these ideas of site and context through composite drawings of views and conceptual model making. We will use these to understand how guidelines like ‘the right to light’ govern architectural designs, and reflect on how these have affected the design of our own homes.


Access / Representation

Before construction begins, buildings exist as a series of architectural representations: ranging from technical plans and sections to artistic visualisations and perspectives. In this final session we will use collage and computer drawing methods to explore ideas of representation, looking at how an image is generated and how it can be distorted. We will use these images to discuss the process that a design goes through before it is approved for construction, and most importantly, how to ensure that our own voices are represented in that process.


Course tutor Amy Butt is an architect, architectural design tutor and writer. She teaches architectural design at Brighton University and Newcastle University where she asks students to consider architecture as a social art. 

Her concern for the future of the city has also led her to explore science fiction and architecture, reflecting on what the imagined cities of the future can tell us about our social relationships to the cities we currently inhabit, with publication in academic journals including Critical Quarterly, and Emotion Space and Society.

This event has been provided by Tate Gallery on behalf of Tate Enterprises LTD

Tate Britain

Sessions will take place in the Clore Studio at Tate Britain apart from on Friday 6th October when the session will be held at Tate Modern

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit


Every Friday at 18.45–20.45

29 September – 20 October 2017