Strawberry Table designed by Valentin Bontjes van Beek and Intermediate 10, Bedford Square, 2015. Photo: Byron Blakeley, AA Archives
Strawberries in Summer
Summer has arrived. One or two AA Collections staff cautiously, optimistically make our way back to Bedford Square to prepare for a kind of limited reopening, strangely different from anything we imagined when we left the building 5 months ago. In the middle of a quiet day working in a library empty of students, I eat my lunch in the gardens of Bedford Square and remember the strawberry tables.
Each year a Unit tutor and/or their students are enlisted to design and create (on a tight budget and with a swift turnaround) a suitably impressive receptacle to hold the celebratory buffet of summer fruit at Graduation.
Designs are experimental, ephemeral and ambitious. I’ve heard reports of Tom Heneghan’s 1988 strawberry washing machine, which malfunctioned, mildly spraying the crowds with sugary water. Achim Menges used morphogenetic algorithms to create a pneumatic strawberry bar. In 1998, the strawberry table was formed of two giant troughs in the shape of As. On a hot day like today, the simple wall of ice employed by Stefano Rabolli Pansera in 2008 sounds decidedly appealing.
Strawberry Table designed by Stefano Rabolli Pansera, 2008. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
The AA Photo Library holds photographs of jubilant students, staff, family and guests, standing by (rapidly emptying) strawberry tables, champagne in hand. We have photographs of strawberry tables from the 1980s and 1990s in Chings Yard, where they historically resided during the Projects Review, but we also have photographs of more recent tables from the 2000s onwards looking resplendent in sunny Bedford Square.
We have surprisingly few stories and photographs focusing on individual designs and themes. You’ll notice that some of the pictures in this blog post do not credit the table’s creator – this is often because the information has not been recorded. In lieu of strawberries, champagne and good company this Summer (well – all together, in any case), the AA Archives would like to invite stories and photographs from strawberry tables present and past for the AA collections blog. If you see a picture here and you created the table, or you know who did, please do help us by getting in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are looking for more information about the AA Strawberry Tables, see Henderson Downing’s article in AArchitecture09
Strawberry Table “washing machine” designed by Tom Heneghan, 1988. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Diploma 18, Bedford Square, 2019. Photo: Byron Blakeley, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed and built by Philipp Thomanek, Andreas Lang, Valentin Bontjes van Beek, Chings Yard, Architectural Association, 1998. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives. The As were suspended from the Terrace to allow them to ‘float’ in Chings Yard.
Strawberry Tables designed by Nacho Martin, Manuel Collado and Manijeh Verghese from Intermediate 11, Bedford Square, 2013. Photo: Valerie Bennett. By the time the photo was taken, the strawberries were gone.
Strawberry table (in the rain) designed by Chris Pierce and Chris Mathews, 2011. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Ana Araujo and Takero Shimazaki, Bedford Square, 2012. AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Diploma 5, Bedford Square, 2018. Photo: Byron Blakeley, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Sam Jacob and Tomas Klassink, Intermediate Tutors, Bedford Square 2010. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Miraj Ahmed, Bedford Square, 2009. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
Strawberry Table designed by Tom Woolner and Intermediate 12, Bedford Square, 2016. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives
Strawberry Table, Chings Yard, Architectural Association, 1989. Photo: AA Archives
Ice Boat Strawberry Table, 1990s?. Photo: Valerie Bennett, AA Archives