APM Student Profile: Bahnnisikha Misra

As a mature international student in my first year, I was keen to accept help in any form to ease the transition into life as a student at Kent School of Architecture, and my peer mentor, a Stage 3 student was the most valuable point of contact at the time. From him I learned about the myriad resources that have since helped my design process, efficient work habits, how to make the best of the School’s workshop and IT labs, and which skills to develop to increase employability. Apart from helping me get the most out of life at University, he inspired me to tap into my creativity and be unafraid of experimenting in my projects.

Subsequently in Stages 2 and 3, I have continued to engage in the Academic Peer Mentoring Scheme, both as a mentee and a mentor. While my mentors continue to open my eyes to the world of possibilities in architecture, I have had great satisfaction in passing it on to my mentees.

Being a mentor involves time, investment and the will to expend energy on another student’s project, sometimes in the midst of one’s own tight deadlines. However, through the exchange of views and in understanding the design process of each of my mentees, I believe that I have learned as much from them as they have from me. It is exciting to be part of another designer’s progression of ideas, and to appreciate first-hand how concepts emerge and progress in somebody else’s mind.

Through the mentoring experience, I have developed the ability to critically analyse each scheme t and find creative solutions to various problems; to provide my views in a way that compels and inspires my mentees to find efficient solutions without handing them a definitive answer. I have learned to create a comfortable environment in which someone initially unfamiliar to me can feel comfortable discussing their academic uncertainties. I have also learned to communicate constructive feedback in a way that stimulates thought rather than ridicule.

Despite the Academic Peer Mentoring being a professional programme, I have been fortunate enough to form friendships that go beyond the scheme, and grown to care for my mentees on a more personal level.

I am confident that the skills I have acquired will prove valuable in my career after university and help me get the best out of life at practice.

By Bahnnisikha Misra
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

PhD Seminar Series: Howard Griffin

The next PhD Seminar will be given by Howard Griffin, MA Architectural Visualisation programme director, on Wednesday 14th March at 4pm in the Digital Crit Space.

Moving the immovable: projection-mapping and the changing face of architecture

The ‘lumière’ festival has, in recent years, become an established form of public festival, with many cities and heritage sites seizing the opportunity to attract large audiences and increase tourism revenues.  Lumière festivals now benefit from the advance in digital technology, which allows light to be mapped to specific surfaces and spaces through projection.  This form of light installation, known as projection-mapping, delivers an added sense of spectacle, with onlookers taking the chance to witness momentary changes to the urban canvas, engaging with buildings in new ways.

At night, artificial light shapes the space around us, highlighting routes, exposing features, forming shadows, and provides architecture an altered, arguably dynamic, identity. Whether by candle, fire, gas or electricity, light has the capacity to change the way we see the space about us.  Projection mapping amplifies this, allowing artists to explore notions of altered façade, and changes to character, style and materiality.

The visual sense dominates particularly when judging scale, distance, texture and so on.  Experience informs us that most buildings are inanimate; solid objects designed for strength and security.  Yet, albeit briefly, our eyes disagree.  Projection-mapping can create illusions that change the very nature of architecture, causing the viewer to subconsciously question and review the alterations that seem to occur.  Windows can spin.  Walls can wobble.  Buildings can move.  Torre (2015) argues that buildings ‘concretize’ animation, giving depth to two-dimensional image.  However, it could be argued that projection-mapping liberates the built environment, animating the inanimate, moving the immovable.

This presentation will explore the methods used in projection mapping to deceive and skew perception of architectural form and space, and argues that this form of light show installation not only conjures and deceives, but develops new relationships between people and the cities and buildings around us.

CASE Open Lecture: Professor Sue Roaf, Heriot-Watt University

The next CASE Open Lecture will be given by Professor Sue Roaf, from Heriot-Watt University on Tuesday 20 March at 6pm in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.

How to Design a Comfortable Building

Comfort is a very costly business. Around 40% of global GDP is spent on buildings, for their construction, operation and demolition and most goes in keeping buildings cool or warm enough to occupy – using air-conditioning and central heating systems. That was fine in the age of cheap 20th century energy but as fossil fuels become less affordable – how will we afford to stay comfortable in the increasingly unstable and extreme weather, political and economic systems we occupy?  We need now to re-learn how to design buildings that can keep people thermally and economically safe in difficult times, not least in a warming world when so many modern buildings are over heating badly. This talk covers issues related to how and why many modern buildings fail to do so and describes a range basic Comfort Design Tools.  It proposes a three step method for designing comfortable buildings, based on lessons learnt while developing the adaptive approach to thermal comfort and describes a range of fundamental opportunities and planning methods for use during early comfortable buildings design stages.  It then outlines a few useful mind-set mantras that might help the designer in the process.

Sue Roaf gained her first degree in Architecture in 1975 at Manchester University. She subsequently went on to gain her Diploma in Architecture at the Architectural Association in London where she also took her Part 3 professional exam in 1978. In 1989 she was awarded a PhD for her study of the Windcatches of the Central Persian Desert from Oxford Brookes University where she taught from 1989 to 2005 both in professional studies, technology and design. She has practiced for a number of years on the design of housing, schools, hospitals and town planning.

She is best known as a designer for her Oxford Ecohouse which was the first UK building with an integrated photovoltaic roof. She is an award winning designer, teacher and author and is Co-Chair of TIA, the International Teachers in Architecture organisation and Co-Chair of the Westminster Carbon Counting Group. She began teaching at Heriot Watt in 2007 in the School of the Built Environment.

APM Student Profile: Jameela Ahmed

Having been a part of the mentoring scheme as a mentor for two years and a mentee for three, I have been able to appreciate first-hand how valuable mentoring sessions can be. These sessions, whether one-on-one or in the form of group discussions, are a great way to bounce ideas off each other outside a classroom environment and get exposed to a wider range of viewpoints and perspectives. It was very interesting for me to see through the eyes of my mentees and uncover radically different concepts and responses to the same design brief. At the same time, discovering their personal aspirations and visions for their projects led me to find different ways of expressing myself while giving advice. It pushed me to present my suggestions and opinions to them in a way that they identified with rather than sticking to one standard method of communication. I can now convey my thoughts with greater clarity, whether through sketches and drawings, in conversation or while providing explanations to questions over email.

Mentoring has affected how I view my own ideas and projects as well. Showing my previous work to the mentees has not only been a method of providing them with an overview of their upcoming project, but also an opportunity to look back at my own work. Revisiting past work at a later date has allowed me reflect more maturely on what worked and didn’t work in my projects. In helping them tackle similar difficulties, it has offered me a chance to find out which methods worked best for me and apply what I learned to my current work.

Although mentoring offers many additional advantages and opportunities for both the mentor and the mentee, at its core, I find that the scheme has always been about encouraging students to support and learn from each other as they make their way through this challenging course.

By Jameela Ahmed
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

Timothy Brittain-Catlin to speak at Gresham College

Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be presenting his latest research in a lecture at Gresham College on the evening of Tuesday 13th March. This talk will propose the theory that Edwardian domestic architecture was based on a new concept of remodelling or imitating the remodelling of old buildings, especially ones with Elizabethan or Jacobean features. This idea emerges from a study of Country Life magazine and of a series of houses from the period. The lecture suggests that three houses should enter the canon of significant early twentieth-century architecture: Kingsgate Castle, near Broadstairs in Kent; Daws Hill, in High Wycombe; and Vann, near Hambledon in Surrey.

Gresham College is one of the most prestigious academic venues in the country, and the lecture will be attended by leading architectural historians. Admission to Barnard’s Inn Hall, off High Holborn, where the lecture will take place will be on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis, with entry from 5.30pm for a 6pm, start. Further information can be found on the College’s website: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/architecture-and-the-edwardian-era

The lecture will be available to downloads or watch online after it has taken place.

Outreach workshops at Community College Whitstable

As part of the Outreach programme which the Kent School of Architecture runs, we made four trips to Community College Whitstable where we introduced the subject of architecture to a class of Year 9 Art students.

In our first two sessions we discussed the principles behind architectural drawing to the students, before introducing them to their brief – to design a café with a view on the Whitstable Harbour Arm.  Working in groups of 3 to 4, the students quickly started playing with ideas by sketching them and by exploring existing precedents.  By looking at projects such as underwater hotels and roof-top gardens, the students soon realised that the possibilities of architecture went beyond what they had originally thought.

In the third session, we introduced the students to the idea of working to scale and with this in mind, tasked them with making a 1:100 scale model which would showcase their designs.  We provided them with white card, acetate, foam board and paper and the designs soon came to life which the students all seemed to really enjoy.  Although some of the students needed encouragement in their abilities to design and model-make, they all pushed through and produced a variety of exciting and unique proposals.  The model making continued into our final session, at the end of which, we asked them to present their work to the rest of the class, which they all felt confident in doing.

During our time there it was great to also talk to the students about studying architecture.  Although they were only 13 years old, they were curious about the route to becoming an architect, as well as our current MArch work.  They spoke to us about their personal experiences and interests in the field, and there were a few students who were genuinely interested in pursuing it in the future.

Overall, we were truly impressed with the students’ creativity, outcomes, and interest in the subject. We both agree that we would have enjoyed a workshop like this at their age, as neither of us had the opportunity.  We hope the students have not only learned about architecture as a potential career path, but also about group-work, the design process and confidence in their abilities and ideas.

By Monica Win and Edward Hobbs
Stage 4, MArch

Design process of a KSA architecture student

So you’ve been handed your design brief, now what?

Step 1

You dig right in! Start reading the brief and dissecting and understanding the demands of the ‘Client’. After understanding what your ‘client’ wants, you jump right into finding finding inspiration and precedents to help in explaining and developing your ideas. The default platforms for finding such inspirations are Pinterest, Archidaily and Dezeen. A personal favourite of Architecture students is Pinterest, with its ‘mood board’ set up and has the ability to create as many boards as you like. It’s easy to really understand what aesthetic you begin to work with on your design and helps to hold your ideas in once place.

Step 2

The next step to the design process involves a simple pen and your sketchbook. Drawing as your ideas run through your head is the easiest way to make sure nothing is missed out. Whereas Using computer programmes are helpful in creating ‘realistic’ designs, they are often harder to interpret your ideas through and limit your ideas to being realistic or not as crazy as you want them, when you first begin.

Step 3

Usually this is where the process in developing your ideas can differ, as some students will move on to Auto-cad in order to create Orthographic drawings. This can also be used in creating ISO/AXO drawings as well as any construction details you are required to produce.

Some will move on to using Sketchup Pro, to create models of their designs, which can be helpful to understand what the overall building will look like and if the overall design works, as well as providing you with the opportunity to capture perspectives and Isometric projection of your structure, as well as Sections and elevations.

Some students will use both programmes at the same time, which can be beneficial in creating plans and models that work together. You can also use Sketchup to capture different projections and translating it into Auto-cad can help to produce drawings that appear more professional.

Step 4

The next step is to render the final drawings. There are plenty of platforms available that produce good results, but the go-to is always Photoshop. It is crucial to render your drawings; this can take a simple design and completely change the way your client experiences it. Although there are many platforms to help in rendering your designs, Photoshop is the safest and most popular.

Step 5

Putting the drawings together for your Critique; the go-to can either be Photoshop or InDesign, followed by Adobe Acrobat to complete the presentation. There is not a lot of difference when it comes to choosing a platform to create your presentation. However, InDesign is specific in creating layouts, titles and presentations and therefore can offer a little more than Photoshop.

By Kirn Karn
Stage 2, BA (Hons) Architecture

Stage 3 students take part in ‘Client Feedback’ for Urban Intervention project

Six of our BA (Hons) Architecture Stage 3 students took part in a ‘Client Feedback’ session for their ‘Urban Intervention’ design projects, organised by Stage 3 Coordinator Chloe Street Tarbatt on 20th February.

Urban Intervention is a design project which takes place in the Autumn term of Stage 3. The module engages students in the re-design of an existing urban centre or locality in two parts, beginning with a master-plan and public realm study, and moving on to the design of a detailed building design adapting and/or extending the existing building fabric. Urban design is the practice of designing towns and cities. This is architecture approached at an urban scale, ranging from a neighbourhood to an entire city. The adaptation and extension of existing buildings for new uses is also a staple of architectural design practice, ranging from unobtrusive to the complete visual overhaul and updating of an existing building.

The brief for this year’s project was based at the University of Kent’s Medway Campus, which straddles the Pembroke site (shared with Greenwich and Canterbury Christchurch Universities), and The Historic Dockyard, Chatham. The School of Architecture was approached by the Dean for the University of Kent Medway campus, Professor Nick Grief, who showed interest in collaborating with KSA on developing proposals for improving circulation links between the two sites, and upgrading the quality of public realm.

Several students signed up for the design charette in Spring 2017, which kick-started the School’s involvement with the project, introducing the unusual qualities of the area, and the potential to be involved in developing ideas for the future development of Chatham Historic Dockyard. The advantages of working on this type of ‘Live Project’ are significant in providing students with a network of real clients, an insight into the complexities of development, and the ways in which society at large, shapes our role and agency as architects / designers.

Six students were asked to present their final design projects for ‘Urban Intervention’ in a ‘Client Feedback’ session at the Sail and Colour Loft on the Chatham Historic Dockyard site to Professor Nick Grief, Bill Ferris, CEO of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Duncan Berntsen from Medway Council. The ‘clients’ involved expressed great enthusiasm for the work presented, and noted that the professionalism and confidence exhibited was outstanding, and their presentations both inspiring and hugely impressive in all respects.

Image credit: Urban Intervention; ‘Existing Site’ by Andrew Caws

PhD Seminar Series: Michael Hall

The next PhD Seminar will be given by PhD student Michael Hall on Wednesday 28th February at 4pm in E.Barlowe (Eliot College).

The Stately Home Industry: The English country house and heritage tourism 1950-1975

In post-war Britain, the country’s relationship to its heritage changed irrevocably. Shifts in political, economic, and societal structures meant that long-accepted attitudes towards national identity were forever altered. At the epicentre of these changes was the English country house, which following this period became the prevalent symbol of English national heritage. Today, large country estates have claimed a secure place in the heritage landscape, however throughout the early to mid 20th century their fate was not so certain. This presentation will explore the ways in which seismic societal changes following the second world war were leveraged by a handful of aristocratic landowners to market their ancestral homes as tourist destinations, and begin to run them as commercial enterprises. It will trace this trend as it became more accepted and ultimately helped to form the heritage tourism industry that is so vital today.

Academic Peer Mentor Student Profile: Mary Villaluz

I was first introduced to the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme in my first year at the Kent School of Architecture, and was assigned a third year student to be my mentor. As a first year student, new to the school, my mentor helped me gain confidence in design by going through his own techniques and by talking to me about his own experiences as a student.

After learning so much from my mentor in my first year, I then decided to pass on what I had learned to the next year’s intake, so I applied to become a mentor myself. As a mentor, I would arrange to meet up with my mentees to discuss any issues and problems they would have regarding the course. The mentee-mentor relationship works well as mentors can advise and guide the lower years on their projects since they studied the modules previously.

Mentors are on hand to offer assistance throughout the entire design process from initial conception to final presentation and help with project management techniques like time management, computer program literacy and presentation techniques. Being able to explain the whole project and design to an external person not involved in the module can be very helpful to bounce ideas off and to see the project and design with a fresh set of eyes which can lead to the discovery of a flaw in their design or areas of potential improvement.

Being both a ‘mentee’ and a ‘mentor’ for the past two years has allowed me to build connections in the studio with students from years above and below, as well as enabling me to improve my own critical analysis skills which I subsequently use on my own designs to further improve them.

The mentoring program is an invaluable resource that shouldn’t be underestimated by students in all years and should be fully utilised as a resource that the Kent School of Architecture offers.

Mary Villaluz
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture