top of page

Disillusioned: Welcome to the FSA (and life)

June 2017


The Free School of architecture started with a long walk through downtown LA, the Arts District untangling itself in a colourful mess;

A brick wall graffitied with “I’m sad but I can’t talk about it, sorry.”

We stood around outside for a while, each new person expanding our little circle of unknowing, wondering if this was the test, if we were to discover ourselves and the school through total abandonment in the city. But now I think about it, this could have been a good idea, perhaps you just get a note, at the time, saying welcome, here you are, make of it what you will, talk to each other, decide what you want, and see you at the first lecture.

It was a grey day and I noticed that a lot of the girls were wearing black and white and grey to match, or to contrast the wild walls of the container yard.

The best parts of the Container Yard are the aquaponic farm and the old freezer. The whole place feels like it’s been pumped full of hot air, made bigger slowly, carefully, and then hurriedly at the last minute, something exploding and full of colour and madness. The farm has these blue and red lights that hang down the walls like lines of flowers and fill it up with purple so everyone looked a little bruised almost, like blood had rushed in and darkened. The old freezer was the biggest, stillest place you could imagine, all the air in there just hung. The silver panels licked up the walls. You could fit a giraffe in there, it was that tall.

There was another events hall and there was a pavilion in there where they’d taken a piece of the street, replicated it and built a display around it. Kerb, road lines, a little ramp down, all of it, just cut up and placed, all edges.


Sitting around in a circle and someone saying how they feel disillusioned and that little wave of recognition as a buzzword forms.

The more I think about it the more I think we feel disillusioned because we expect (or hope) things will happen to us or for us rather than making them happen ourselves and because we’re young and we haven’t given up yet.

We spent six hours killing time, remembering people not by name but by where they come from (why is that so much easier?) What happened to ahhh… Austria? Where did Sweden go? Chile? Lithuania?

SciArc was quiet and long, Patrice who went there and watched its steady downfall said the school was basically dead. She did 80 all nighters in first year. I’d like to say you could feel it, the anxiousness, and the slow building insomnia, all wired in the air. But if you bring an idea to a space that idea will find a way to expand and infiltrate everything. It was summer break so there weren’t many people around, or much work, and there was a sign on one of the pillars saying you couldn’t skateboard. The long corridor joining all the spaces trapped all the heat in and made us feel smaller.

There was a book store full of temptation and student accommodation that looked good for what it was, or at least how much money was spent on it (like somebody tried!), with these little fins for window shades and red cut outs chewing away at bits of it, and a cafe with a hipster font and a sign which claimed it was “instagrammable” and should that have two m’s? (we discussed that for some time, I think it needs two m’s or a hyphen and nothing else) and then a public garden in a new complex with herbs and chickens and a gallery and an overpriced restaurant which I guess helps pay for the public bits, and Ruta lying down to read the thin neon sign, white in the daytime:

U  A I  O
S  S S S

Which makes a lot more sense if you read it that way (if you make yourself horizontal) and the rest of us dismissing it as random letters, perhaps some other unknowable language.

And then a lecture in the format the content of the lecture is trying to resist

(a bit of reshuffling)

Lots of talking, god we can talk! And congratulate ourselves because no one understands us!

(Maybe if we were so great people would know?)

A slow wander to a big brewery (everything gets to be big here because no one walks)

Girl talk and cider and more tipping drama and the blue dim light of a bar and Miriam seeing an actor she likes who was in Charlie’s Angels and Ruta being the one to bring up being tall (even though i’m the tallest by far of course) and getting to know each other in little snippets and eventually slipping out into the dark streets into a dark uber and finding my way ‘home.’

bottom of page