The first issue of Crumble begins, ‘this is not a magazine about architecture’. It is instead a magazine that seeks to engage architecture in a wider cultural context, and to consider how it can provide answers to current political and social issues.
Based in Edinburgh, Crumble unites students and professionals who are keen to enliven the conversation about architecture. Cue a diverse first issue that covers a range of topics, from looking at the future of architects in Scotland, to why there are so few female landscape architects, landing it the title of Student Magazine of the Year at the Stack Awards last week. We caught up with editor-in-chief Theodore Shack, to find out more about Crumble.
Tell us a bit about the magazine.
Imagine that we are living in a place where, if you want to critique a piece of theatre you have to create your own piece of theatre in response, where commenting on a topic means engaging with it, where thinking requires doing. A group of us from various disciplines started talking. We used a lens of architecture to ask ‘what is urgent?’ The articles and magazine that followed were a result of this conversation. The articles are hugely varied and often directly opposed. The act of writing and making the magazine, spreading the initial question provokes more conversation and provides a base for us to ask the next question, ‘So what is the plan?’ We hope that the magazine will be a stepping stone to enable further dialogue and then active engagement with current problems ranging from the refugee crisis to sustainability.
Why did you decide to make a magazine about architecture?
We wanted to make a magazine that was not so much about architecture (which might conjure images of glossy buildings), as a magazine which uses architecture as a lens to look at, and provide insight into social issues. This connection between theory and practice is essential. As students submerged in deadlines and theory there can be a dislocation from how our learning links to real issues. We wanted to change this, to recognise that architectural thinking has the capacity to enact real valuable insight into the issues that the world is facing, and offers tools to meet pressing societal issues.
However, we also know that (as with any discipline) architecture has its own specialised jargon that can remove it from a topic that can be discussed with everyone. Recognising this, we created a platform for students of all subjects and backgrounds to get together and talk. The lens of architecture allowed focus for our conversations, but it did not restrict those who could participate. The thing about architecture is that you can’t escape from it; it’s surrounding everybody all the time, so it’s something that everybody has something valuable to say about.
What were the biggest challenges that came with making issue one?
The parameters of the magazine. Once the first question had been asked, it became clear that there were many many more, so we will need to make more issues.
The first issue considers ‘what is urgent’, why did you choose to address this topic in the inaugural issue?
We are faced with so many tabloid headings of ‘crises’; the housing crisis, the refugee crisis, the environmental crisis, a crisis of individuality, of imagination (and more). So having stopped to breathe, where do we begin? What is most pressing and how do we address these headlines, break them down and consider them?
It became clear through the process that ‘urgency’ and immediate action, does not necessarily mean speed, and does not mean a quick fix solution but often a slowing down and rethinking of the problem. This first issue broke down the questions in a way that sought to be critical and propositional at the same time. The upcoming issue, ‘What’s the plan?’ seeks to further the propositional aspect of this, and will be launching in January.
How did it feel to win the Stack Award for Best Student Magazine?
A real honour and a huge boost to the potential of the magazine – which is now stocked in the Tate Modern and at magCulture! Hopefully it just means that the fantastically rich collection of ideas contained within it gets out to even more people and sparks more discussion and action. Crumble was praised for its fantastic design, originality and relevance. As well as the focus on content, we put a lot of thought into the form of the magazine using wonderful Risograph printing and lots of illustrations. Each page is formatted differently so that the magazine is as much a beautiful object as it is a fiery debate and conversation starter.
Since we were creating a physical object, we wanted it to have a weight and aesthetic quality that necessitated it existing offline. The award is confirmation of the success of this aim.
What can we expect from the next issue?
Variety! We are in the process of collating ‘What’s the Plan’. Following the success of Issue one, and we have some fantastic articles and illustrations. It will be bright and exciting.
Editor: Theodore Shack
Design: Angus Henderson