The Portsmouth Corset: Collaborative Working

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


Aims: Continuing our practice of which considered the role of the architect as a physical novelist who weaves together past, present and future and explores the making and materiality of a spatial practice. Portsmouth Corset Dialogue is one of a series of spatial stories.

We have been working in collaboration with Vollers, the last remaining corset makers in Portsmouth to uncover the links through drawing; of the city, corset and body (water). We found many parallels and analogies between architecture, city, structures and fashion.

This work explores the gendered nature of a city. Portsmouth has multiple identities, its Naval history and masculinity of the defended city and hidden history of Corset Making. Through drawing out the Island City of Portsmouth the corset becomes entwined with a City of Makers and combines the masculinity of the defended city and corset making naval wives.

Methodology: Researching and mapping the locations of the corset makers in Portsmouth we found workshops within homes scattered around the city, with the main design houses in London. We contrasted this to the ravelins and bastions, the satellite of defences that protect the harbour. Military and masculine, these structures in both form and scale contrast the domestic and the body - scale shift from city to house to body.

We use Storytelling to enrich place reading, co-drawing and layering ideas. A forensic theme developed which mimicked the xray of the INFORMED body within the corset. We started modelling and stitching going from 2D to 3D, from Globe to Corset, from Harbour to Body, from Terrace to zip. De-constructing, re-assembling layering and re-layering, inverting and unravelling shapes to make patterns for both corset and ravelin.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021


  • architecture
  • structure
  • corset


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