Henrik Schoenefeldt presents at the Higher Education Academy

Henrik Schoenefeldt is giving a talk on the findings of his current research into sustainable education at the Higher Education Academy in York. The talk is entitled Engaging with new practices for sustainability through collaborative research and design, which form part of the Research, Impact, Pedagogy & Engagement series organized by the HEA. A link to the event can be found here.

Last year Dr. Schoenefeldt conducted a series of interviews with practitioners and educators of architecture, which explored the relationship between architectural practice, research and education in sustainable development. The findings of these interviews has led to the development of the pedagogical concept behind his current research project Interrogating the technical, economic and cultural challenges of delivering the PassivHaus standard in the UK. This project explores ways of involving students directly in primary research through larger collaborative research projects. Acting as an alternative to the traditional dissertation, a group of third and fifth year students was invited to from part of a research team working on one large project comprising fifteen in-depth case-studies of PassivHaus schemes certified between 2009 and 2013. In this project the team investigated how architectural practices and the building industry more widely is adapting for sustainability. Over the twelve month period of the project, students were supervised by the author, but also received regular feedback from the industry partners during project workshops and reviews. Through interviews with the architects, contractors, consultants, suppliers, developers students were able to engaged directly with various professions within the building industry that were directly involved in the design, construction post-occupancy evaluation of the PassivHaus case-studies. This enabled students to develop an understanding of the challenges of low energy design not only from point of the architectural profession but also from a cross-industry perspective. The objective behind this project was to bridge the gap between academic research, architectural practice (and the industry more widely) and university-based teaching through a collaboration between academics, students and practitioners. As such it addresses issues raised in the Farrell Report and studies of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Academy of Engineering and SCHOSA, which highlight that teaching, research and practice suffer from too much separation. This project, which will be completed in July 2014, has demonstrated different ways in which university-based education and research can directly engage with and contribute to addressing the practical challenges of introducing sustainable models of practice.


 

Student Profile – Jade Simm

Jade Simm

BA (Hons) Architecture

What attracted you to studying  at Kent?

Fundamental to my choice of university was my determination to study at an  institution that would allow me to maximise my creative talents to achieve the  very highest standards. Having taken the  opportunity to visit many universities, I knew that I preferred a campus  lifestyle and Kent truly is a very pleasant learning environment with its  careful balance between open green space and learning facilities. The warm welcome I received on the open days  from both staff and students made me feel at home from the very first moment I  stepped on campus. Kent’s reputation and  standing in the university league tables highlighted the fact that whilst the  university felt like home it was indeed a well run and well organised centre of  learning that strives to ensure that all students achieve their very best.  The huge choice of sports clubs and societies  was also very attractive as I was keen to fully immerse myself in university  life.

Why did you choose to study architecture?

Nothing in life touches people’s lives as much as architecture. Walk down any street or sit in any  environment and you cannot help to form a view of the architectural environment  that has been created. Good architecture  can lift the spirit and impact positively on how people live and work.  Architecture can enrich lives, create mood and alter people’s state of mind. My passion is clear and my determination to make a meaningful difference is  resolute. For me architecture as a profession  was the only natural choice where I would be able to have such an impact.

What skills have you already learnt whilst studying architecture?

First year in particular allowed me to develop technical skills as well as conceptual and creative skills. During Stage 1 allocated sessions were used  to explore creativity through a variety of techniques including life drawing,  model making and sketching. The subject matter was not always architectural but  this allowed me to broaden my skills and then apply it to my architectural  designs. I also began to develop some very subtle skills in speaking the  language of architecture and being able to describe a physical environment to  demonstrate its form and the space that was created. Second year we were introduced to 3Ds Max, weekly tasks were set to gain  knowledge of the software so that we could produce a final piece. Up until this  point of the year I had only used SketchUp for 3D design purposes, but the  involvement of this software on the course has made me much more confident in producing  photorealistic models. During the course it is made clear that it is not just conceptual design  that is important. You need to know how a building stands up and its  environmental factors. Along with this you need to be able to present clearly  your own ideas visually and verbally. Lectures are given on presentation, but  the best way for these skills to develop is by looking at the work of others  and taking part in Inter-Crits to understand the most successful techniques.

What are you enjoying most about university?

The Architecture course at the University of Kent is well run and the combination of lectures seminars and tutorials allows a varied study approach that keeps you in contact with a variety of staff and students. Many of the  staff specialise in different areas so it is almost certain that there will be a  member of staff you have common interest with and can aid your design. The  Architecture studio is always buzzing and everyone is willing to help each  other out. Joining the Kent Architectural Student associated allowed me to become  part of team of students organising activities for architecture students. I  personally took the role of Merchandise Rep where I created a hoodie for all  students to purchase and was part of the social team organising social events  that weren’t architecture related. As a member of the Rowing Team, I find it a good way to keep active as  well as a friendship group outside of rowing. Sport gives you time to get away  from your work and relax, something that is needed when studying architecture.

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?

Tutors are the best form of support in  architecture, they encourage you to achieve your goals and give you both  positive and negative feedback in order for you to develop your project as well  as your own personal style. Tutors are there to help you; they are willing to  meet with you outside tutorial hours or to discuss minor issues via email.  Tutors  have a range of expertise and all are happy for you to tap into their knowledge  and offer advice. There are staff within the department of  architecture that are there to provide general help and guidance throughout the  course as well as the University providing a support service, available to  anyone who requires it.

For more student profiles, please visit our website.

Spring Term crits end on a high

The final week of the Spring term in the Kent School of Architecture was in full swing with both intercrit and final crit assessments. Students from different year groups were scattered across the studio spaces in Marlowe building with either pinned up sheets, models or digitally presented drawings, in order to get useful feedback on the work they had produced so far.

The week began with the BA (Hons) Stage 1 final crits for the module ‘Building Design’. For their brief, the students designed an art gallery based in Barcelona, and it was a culmination of the basic skills they picked up over the first year of their architectural journeys. From using pencils and drawing boards to present their ‘shelter’ projects at the very beginning of the year, it has been a fantastic progression to see students going out of their comfort zone to use mixed media, colour and textures to ultimately give them extra sufficient material for their portfolio assessment in the summer term.

At the same time, MArch Part II Stage 4 students received intercrit feedback on their ‘Design 4’ projects. The four Units spread out over Monday and Tuesday, and each Unit got the opportunity to not only explain their up-to-date schemes with their own tutors, but tutors from other Units contributed to the crit panel too. This enabled fresh new perspectives, especially for other tutors who were curious to see what the other Units have been up to. There was even an appearance from the Head of School, Don Gray, who assessed Unit 3’s project based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Thursday proved to be a buzzing day for crits with both Stage 5 Technology intercrits and Stage 2 final crits for the module ‘Collective Dwelling’. Stage 5 were expected to have drilled down the technical aspects of their design projects and all received specialist input from technology and structural tutors, as well as being given an indication by Unit design tutors on what they need to push for before their final assessments in the summer term. Stage 2, on the other hand, had completed their schemes to design student housing blocks aimed for an urban development site near the River Stour in Canterbury. Design tutors collaborated with volunteering MArch students as crit panellists in the Digital Crit Room, and then pinpointed the potential in the projects and see whether the students started to get to grips with construction details and considerations given to lighting, views or other contextual analysis.

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KSA would like to wish everyone a well-deserved break during Easter and all the best to students preparing for final marked submissions in the summer term.

Srimathi Aiyer (MArch)

British Council selects students for Venice Fellowship

Kent School of Architecture is pleased to announce that two of its MArch Part II students have been selected for a work-study fellowship at this year’s Venice Biennale.

Jasmine Davey (4th Year) and Jessica Ringrose (5th Year) will each spend a month in the beautiful city of Venice and right in the heart of the 2014 Biennale, directed by Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas. This year’s theme is ‘Absorbing Modernity: 1914 – 2014’, which will be subject to much debate, discussion and create a fresh understanding of the world’s take on the development of Modernist ideas. The British Pavilion will host ‘A Clockwork Jerusalem’: how international influences of Modernism have mixed with long-standing British sensibilities. From around the UK and beyond, a total of 50 students from 12 architecture schools and institutions will each be supported by a financial grant to take on this work-study opportunity in the world’s most important architectural festival that will run from June to November this year.

Jasmine (who will be in Venice in September) and Jessica (who will be going in June) will spend four days a week invigilating the exhibition in the British Pavilion. Both have proved through the application process that they are reliable, organised and competent for the task of overseeing the day-to-day running of the pavilion and, in essence, become the public faces of the exhibition. In addition, Jasmine and Jessica will spend three days a week undertaking a research project focusing on ‘Absorbing Modernity’ and can stretch their investigations to cover a number of core sub-themes and evolving ideas. They will ultimately be producing a written piece that centres on individual conclusions, which will then be published.

Jasmine says: It is a rare, fortunate opportunity to get a chance to be a part of the Biennale. I am really grateful KSA have made this a possibility. The application had quite specific questions that got you thinking about the theme for the Biennale this year, so it will be interesting to see how the study I take on will develop from the interests I have about architectural developments from 1914-2014. At the moment, I think I would like to research what cultural gems we choose preserve (I see preservation as something that only became important after 1914 and is interesting to look at alongside the modernisation of design) or something to do with the avant guarde movement.”

Jessica says: “Almost every architecture CV has the same information; whether a person has done Part I, II, III etc. so this experience will add something else to my CV. I am very much interested in the National Identity of Architecture, but as I will be in Venice, I would probably look into the identities of other countries featured. I think Absorbing Modernity is how we present ourselves to others, how Britain is distinguished and do we actually export anything influential to other countries?”

This week, the two students will be attending a three day residential induction school in London, in order to network with other Biennale Fellows, staff and receive pre-departure information and advice. We at KSA wish Jessica and Jasmine the very best of luck in their preparations leading up to their fellowships and, of course, congratulate them in becoming suitable ambassadors for this unique event.

For more information about the Venice Biennale, click here.

-Srimathi Aiyer (Stage 4)

Community College Whitstable win the Stage Makers Competition

Students from Whitstable Community College have won the Stage Makers inter-school competition. The competition ran for three months and included teams from Abbey School, St Anselms and Community College Whitstable. The participating students were given a brief to design a building within their school site which could be used for performances.

Ambassadors from Kent School of Architecture led 5 workshops within each school and provided the students with materials for designing and model making. After introducing students to plans, sections and elevations, it was over to each group to decide what space they wanted to make for their school. There were certain things that the space had to include: a green room, WC and shower, storage, a stage and a space in which the audience would sit or stand.

On Thursday 3rd April, students, parents and staff were invited to Kent School of Architecture for an afternoon of activities and a presentation of prizes. Fine artist Patrick Crouch and the KSA ambassadors took the visiting students outside in the sunshine to design and build towers with some very impressive results.

The competition models were displayed in the Digital Crit Space which is where the judging took place. All the judges agreed that the Year 9 students from Community College Whitstable were the winners with their model – The Oyster.

Academic lead Rebecca Hobbs said: ‘All the pupils from the participating schools showed a great level of commitment and each group came up with some lovely ideas. The winning team used the oyster shell to generate the form of their stage. They encouraged and supported each other throughout the five workshop sessions. They worked together to produce a simple and elegant scheme illustrating their thought process in a very mature way’.

All students were presented with a Stage Makers sketch book and have been offered a place on the Architecture Summer School which is happening in July. The winners each received a copy of Phyllis Richardson’s influential book Big Ideas, Small Buildings and the afternoon ended with refreshments and a tour of the school.

Sonya Connell from Community College Whitstable commented: ‘The students thoroughly enjoyed the process working alongside the University staff and the student ambassadors and are thrilled to have won the competition. It was very interesting to see the University in action and the students really enjoyed seeing the work of the architects that they had been working with. The students are really looking forward to the Summer School and we are happy to support the project again next year’.

Mary Woodfine from Abbey School said: ‘Our students really enjoyed the workshops and meeting the ambassadors. Problem solving and team working skills came to the fore but over everything else the students really enjoyed the experience and as a result, are considering both the Summer School and Architecture as an option’.

We are looking forward to seeing the students again in July for the Summer School and would like to thank them again for taking part in our first Stage Makers competition.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin launches new book

Bleak Houses – The Book Launch

Tonight : 01.04.14

Architectural Association School Life 2013-2014

AA Bookshop, 32 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES at 6.30pm

Thursday: 03.04.14

The Department of Art History, New York University

The talk is entitled: Towards a theory of failure: architectural history and its losers.

Read more on Timothy Brittain-Catlin and Bleak Houses by visiting the Times Higher Education website where Bleak Houses made book of the week.

Dr Luciano Cardellicchio to present at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge

Dr Luciano Cardellicchio will present a paper entitled Pier Luigi Nervi vs Fazlur Khan: the developing of the outrigger system for skyscrapers at the First Construction History Society Conference which will be held the 11th and 12th of April at the Queens’ College, University of Cambridge. The paper focuses on how the particular structural system called “outrigger” was first developed, trying to link the experience of two outstanding engineers who worked after the Second World War, the Italian Pierluigi Nervi (1891–1979) and the Bangledeshi-American Fazlur Rahman Khan (1929–1982). In detail, the paper will highlight how the system invented by Nervi for the Stock Exchange Tower in Montreal (designed by Luigi Moretti and completed in 1965) has been developed by Khan in the Belt-Truss system for the Tower at 140 William Street (formerly BHP House) in Melbourne (1972).

For the entire program of the conference please click here.

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Luigi Moretti, Pier Luigi Nervi, Stock Exchange Tower, Montreal, 1965. (Photo by the author)