Kent School of Architecture in Top Ten of UK Schools (placed 7th in Complete University Guide)

In the year in which Kent School of Architecture (KSA) celebrates its 10th year of existence, it is extremely gratifying to see the school comfortably in the top ten of UK schools of architecture, according to the Complete University Guide 2016 published today.

Such a privileged position is only possible due to the high calibre of staff, and the positive response of students to their experience at KSA. Our strong performance in the recent Research Excellence Framework is an important contributory factor.

That KSA has achieved such a strong showing is particularly satisfying given its performance as joint number one in the UK for employability. This confirms that our focus on the careful amalgamation of creativity, technology and digital competence is a mix which is extremely attractive to practice.

To view the results, please click here.

Parallel Motion: Modernism and Dystopia in European Planning ca. 1935 – 1950

CREAte are pleased to announce that their next symposium will be taking place on Thursday 25th June 2015. The event is being organised by CREAte (Centre for Research in European Architecture) as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Kent School of Architecture, and will be graciously hosted by the Twentieth Century Society.

Parallel Motion: Modernism and Dystopia in European Planning ca. 1935 – 1950

In the 1930s the field of planning in Europe became established at the regional and even national scales, embracing the drive towards modernisation through the creation of new infrastructure such as highway systems and electrification projects. At the same time, countryside planning and related conservation efforts aimed to protect and integrate historic and natural landscapes. The advent of World War II provided a new impetus to planning at all levels, for it demanded the mobilisation of all forces, not only military. European planners continued to look beyond the end of the War, envisioning a new, more orderly world of the future. As the historian Niels Gutschow recently noted, one British planner referred to the destruction of Coventry as a ‘blessing in disguise’, for it provided a blank slate for new plans.

Planning histories of this period are usually read through the lens of the politics of the individual countries involved, focussing on how planners responded to either democratic or dictatorial regimes, both during and after the War. However, is it possible that the drive towards modernisation and totalising modern planning at the regional and even continental scales could have its own innate logic, with attendant political and social consequences? And could this internal dynamic reveal unexpected facets of modernist thinking as a whole?

This symposium considers planning from ca. 1935 – 1950 in Britain, France, and Germany (and tangentially the US), beginning with presentations on the individual countries, and ending with a collective discussion among the symposium participants on historical differences and commonalities. While these topics have been considered broadly before, here the focus will be particularly upon the town and country problematic as manifested in this period.

The symposium will take place in London on Thursday 25th June 2015 from 5pm, KSA staff and students will get in free with their University ID, others can pay through the 20th Century Society either online or at the door.

Schedule:

17:00 – 17:25    Reception

17:25 – 17:30    Introduction to Symposium

David H. Haney, Director of CREAte, Kent School of Architecture

17:30 – 17:50   ‘Preparing for the New World: Planning Education in London 1935 – 1945’

Alan Powers, New York University / London School of Architecture

17:50 – 18:10   ‘Airstrip One: Interchanges between British and American War-Time Planning

Murray Fraser, The Bartlett, UCL, London

18:10 – 18:30   ‘The Fiction of Nazi Architecture’

Hartmut Frank, Hafen City University (emeritus), Hamburg

18:30 – 18:50   ‘Of Garden City Descent: Nazi Community Planning in the New/Old East’

David H. Haney, Kent School of Architecture, Canterbury

18:50 – 19:10   ‘Modernisation and Nostalgia in Vichy France’

Jean-Louis Cohen, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, New York City / Collège de France, Paris

19:10 – 19:30    Roundtable Discussion with Participants

David H. Haney, Moderator

19:30 – 19:45    Questions and Answers

19:45                 Symposium Concludes

To register for the event, please visit the Twentieth Century Society website or contact Dr David. H Haney for further information.

A talk by Professor Simon Pepper about impact for architectural historians will be held at the same venue immediately before-hand. For details, please contact Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin.

Image: Agricultural “village-landscape” plan for the eastern territories, by landscape architect Heinrich Wiepking, early 1940s.

Dr David H. Haney awarded Leverhulme Fellowship

Dr David H. Haney has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship to support the writing of his book, The Gardening State: Landscape Architecture and Horticulture under National Socialism.

The Leverhulme Fellowship will enable him to take the entire academic year 2015-2016 for a writing sabbatical. The scope of the book covers all aspects of landscape architecture and horticulture during the National Socialist period, including the new Autobahn landscapes, the resettlement of the conquered eastern territories, and monumental landscape ensembles. While other authors have focussed on architecture alone, this will be the first study giving an overview of the important fields of landscape architecture and horticulture during this dark historical episode. This book will not only cover the historical material in depth, but will also serve as a warning of the dangers of social exclusion in the cultural landscape.

Publication is planned for 2017.

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt gives talk at Annual SCHOSA Conference

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt has given a talk on Building Performance Evaluation in the context of education, research, and practice at the Annual SCHOSA Conference. This conference was held at the Royal Institute of British Architects on 9 and 10 April 2015.

The talk was entitled ‘Building performance Evaluation – an education endeavour joining practitioners, students and researchers’ and it explores some of the challenges of using Building Performance Evaluations (BPE) as affective learning tools in architectural design, exploring the practical challenges of giving design a true empirical basis or of translating BPE findings into useable design knowledge for architects.

The idea of empirically-based design in practice and education was explored, taking into consideration the role of both the social and physical sciences. Historical prespectives were also be provided to illustrate the role the cultural curriculum could take in illustrating to students the principles and origins of evidence-practice.  Based on the his research on the ventilation of Palace of Westminster and climate control in nineteenth-century glasshouses, Henrik showed some the earliest examples of building performance evaluations in which the recording of measurements, and experimental studies were combined with surveys on user perception.

Using two projects that Henrik has led at the University of Kent as examples, the second part of the talk illustrated the potential of collaboration between academics, clients, practitioners, students and in addressing the some of challenges of performance-led practices of low-energy design in the UK.

Dr Manolo Guerci elected for a Career Fellowship

Dr Manolo Guerci was recently elected to a Paul Mellon Mid Career Fellowship to complete his book on Great Houses of the Strand: The Ruling Elite at Home in Tudor and Jacobean London to be published by Yale University Press.

The book develops from Dr Guerci’s PhD on the so-called ‘Strand palaces’, some eleven major houses built or extended between the 1550s and 1650s along the Strand, the ‘great channel of communication’ between the City in the East and Westminster in the West, respectively England’s economic and political centres. The history of these palaces covers a highly significant if much neglected chapter of London’s architecture. They are the perfect media to analyse the English court and its ties with the Continent during one of the most interesting political, social and artistic periods in British history.

Image: View of the so called ‘Covent Garden Area’ by Wenceslaus Hollar (mid. 17th c – British Library).

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt speaks at the Annual SCHOSA conference

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt will be giving a talk on Building Performance Evaluation in the context of education, research, and practice at the Annual SCHOSA Conference. This conference is held at the Royal Institute of British Architects on 9 and 10 April 2015.

The talk is entitled ‘Building performance Evaluation – an educational endeavour joining practitioners, students and researchers’ and it explores some of the challenges of using Building Performance Evaluations (BPE) as affective learning tools in architectural design, exploring the practical challenges of giving design a true empirical basis or of translating BPE findings into useable design knowledge for architects.

The idea of empirically-based design in practice and education will be explored, taking into consideration the role of both the social and physical sciences. Historical perspectives will also be provided to illustrate the role the cultural curriculum could take in illustrating to students the principles and origins of evidence-practice. Based on the his research on the ventilation of Palace of Westminster and climate control in nineteenth-century glasshouses Henrik will show some the earliest examples of building performance evaluations in which the recording of measurements, and experimental studies were combined with surveys on user perception.

Using two projects that Henrik has led at the University of Kent as examples, the second part of the talk will illustrate the potential of collaboration between academics, clients, practitioners, students and in addressing the some of challenges of performance-led practices of low-energy design in the UK.

For further information on the conference:
http://schosa.org.uk/sites/all/files/conference%20flyer-1.pdf

Pure Form

Pure Form 1The relationship between men and stone dates back to the inception of time itself. Whether through a genesis involving a supreme being or as culmination of an unprecedented explosion, one of the first forms was stone. This unpredictable entity that exists in multiple configurations with volumes and voids, patterns and tones so different that it’s hard to find two that are exactly alike has been our livelihood. From the solid shelter of the cave, the first tools of hunters and gatherers, to primitive agricultural equipment, stone has carved a path for human life to flourish. This hard substance became a canvas for prehistoric artists, teachers and authors to pass information from generation to generation, a practice that would become a continuum. These were the pages for the early Sumerian cuneiform tablets, the scroll for the decree of the Rosetta stone and the material that made construction of the pyramids possible.

Adopted and mastered by the Greeks and Romans the Architecture of antiquity then became the exemplary arrangement of this stone and the temple form was created. At this moment purity of stone was lost in architecture.

What stone wanted to be it could be no more, the natural grotto it wanted to create for the early men was to be no more; the dry stone walls built by the Shona of Southern Africa were to be no more; the balancing Boulders of Neolithic ancestors at Stonehenge were to be no more; the unpredictable architecture created by the insufficient technology was to be no more. The era of uniqueness was over.

Like the artists of the Renaissance and the Baroque playing with the boundaries of the orders, or the leaders of the arts and crafts movement rebelling against low quality mass produced products of the industrial revolution; the Pure Form project at Kent School of Architecture ran by sculptor Patrick Crouch follows this patriotism. True to traditional materials and tools, conceiving form from stone and wood, Patrick is bridging the gap between traditional sculpture and modern architecture.

Patrick Crouch at work Source: https://patrickcrouch.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/room-0331.jpg
Patrick Crouch at work
Source: https://patrickcrouch.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/room-0331.jpg

Michelangelo proclaimed that “every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it” ; Mark Antoine Laugier in his polemical essay on architecture argued that architecture ought to divorce the harmonious proportions of antiquities and look towards the structural clarity embodied in mankind first structures.
Such intertwined ideals are the driving force behind the Pure Form project. Open to all ages or to “those who are alive” in the words of the Patrick crouch the programme aims to bring the craftsmanship lost in the materials of modernity. As contemporary skylines become glazed by the structural gymnastics made possible by steel and glass there is no more room for a chisel; so the project recreates an environment such as that experienced by our forefathers during the construction of our great monuments. The process evokes memories, breeds artisans and inspires a revolt towards today’s architecture that is nothing but a silhouette of form behind a curtain wall.

The sounds of traditional tools chipping away at blocks of stone sound like an ancient song in the night but when mixed with the robotic sounds of laser cutters and 3d printers, it creates a unique melody never heard before. Is this the future of architecture encoded in the notes of this new song?

If a digital camera was carved out of stone would it be a priceless work of art or an ephemeral tool for human enjoyment? In a post oil earth, mankind will have revert to nature- the nature such as that of wood and stone.

Pure form classes in action Photo by Themba Ben Mtwazi
Pure form classes in action
Photo by Themba Ben Mtwazi

By Themba Ben Mtwazi