KSA ranked 3rd best school of architecture in the UK in most recent league table

The most recent Gardian university league table has seen the Kent School of Architecture (KSA) rise to 3rd position in the UK, up 11 places from last year. It is particularly worth noting that KSA, which only celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is positioned above some of the longest standing architecture schools in the country such as Cambridge and Bath. A highly contributing factor to KSA’s success is the high employability standards it provides students with, ranked joint 1st for graduating student employment prospects in the 2016 Complete University Guide. As well as this, recent expansions to KSA mean that it now boast some of the most up to date facilities available to its Architectural students.

It is quite clear that for such a young school, KSA is punching above its weight when it comes to providing exceptional architectural education and is now perfectly positioned to maintain its position as a frontrunner in the Architectural field.

Eliot Cloister Garden Design Competition

With its 50th Anniversary approaching, the University of Kent decided to undergo a number of prestigious refurbishments; one was to improve the Cloister Garden in Eliot College. The Eliot College department and School of Architecture therefore agreed to set up a competition open to all students. The announcement caught our interest and so we decided to submit a design proposal to the competition.

Since its opening in 1965, the College has been strongly associated with the School of Arts.There are drama studios in the building yet students still make extensive use of the Great Hall for rehearsals. Therefore, the competition brief urged us to foster a feeling of history by linking its uses to the past and to create a multifunctional space for drama and dance practices and productions. The garden is also intended to create a tranquil and delightful spot for studying and relaxing for everyone.

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The context was a substantial factor when designing as to ensure the garden worked with the context rather than against it. Since the context reminded us of art-nouveau architecture style from its curvy organic-shaped bottom windows, we decided that the design should incorporate a similar language and not be geometrically designed. The context affected our material palette as well; it needed to brighten up the harsh Eliot concrete façade. Hence on one side we chose bright gravel for the ground, and kept the existing greenery on the rest to still encourage wildlife into the area. The benches and mini amphitheatre consolidated to produce level changes, which brings volume to the space.

Having been shortlisted to the final four, we began work on developing our design taking in to account the feedback given. With being shortlisted there was also a £75 prize money given to each team or individual to go towards the costs of creating a 1:100 scale model of our designs.

Accounting for the main point on our feedback we decided to remove the sculpture area.  This then became the pergola walkway where we incorporated flower boxes to add brightness and colour. Originally the pergola was larger but this therefore would be more costly, causing further revisions to our design and we settled on the smaller but more suited final pergola design.
Additionally we addressed disabled access. The original design involved steps to the sunken amphitheatre. Hence we changed to a ramp which curved down so aesthetically it merged in with the benches. Lastly we worked on the finishing touches of the materials and lighting for ambience at night time.

Design finalised we had a race against time. Besides participating in the Eliot Cloister competition we were approaching our intercrit in the same week. The challenge would now be communicating our idea to the judging panel and juggling two projects at once. Therefore our main focus for the week leading up to the final submission was the model and we spent the next week in the workshop. We debated on many aspects of how we wished for the model to look, and what would be the best materials to communicate the design choosing a graphic design approach. Whilst we spent our days in the workshop, we spent evenings drawing and rendering our design in to a presentable booklet. We split work evenly between us and ensured our work matched for a cohesive final outcome.

Since winning we have met with the Eliot Master and discussed a few small changes which we are working on now. The design is scheduled to begin work in the next few months and to be finished for September and the Universities 50th anniversary celebrations.

By Tracy Hulley and Prinka Anandawardhani – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture

Work Experience

Instead of spending my Easter holidays relaxing on a beach in South Devon with a cream tea at my side, I used this time as an opportunity to undertake some work experience with an architectural firm who specialise in the design of tourist attractions. Although at first reluctant to give up the only free time I had after a very busy term, I soon came to realise the benefits of my decision.

University learning is a vital part of the process to becoming a good architect, but it has its limitations, the first being the disconnection between students and active building projects. This means that while learning at university you may think that what you are doing is worthwhile, but it is not until you enter the industry that you realise what the most important processes are and therefore which skill areas are most worthwhile to develop. It’s like trying to paint someone’s portrait before ever seeing them. If it were up to me to decide, I believe that a degree in architecture should start with compulsory work in practice before theoretical learning begins, this however for obvious reasons is not the case in our current system. Now having spend time studying the profession I am in a better position to judge which skills are require and which are less so. This also means that I can now relate the projects I undertake at university to the real world subsequently giving my university work more depth and realism.

Another benefit to getting into the industry early is what is known as getting your ‘foot in the door.’ It is basic business that dictates it is more cost effective to keep an employee on than to train a new one, therefore as soon as you begin to learn company specific processes, you are making yourself very attractive when it comes to longer term planning. What I mean by this is that by getting into a firm early, knowingly or not, you are making the search for a year out position much easier when it comes to that time. While others are having the last minute panic as third year comes to an end, you can relax knowing that yours is already sorted.

Although I have not developed my design skills very much, I believe that I have learnt more about the processes involved in the architectural profession in those 3 weeks than I have done this year at university, and I would encourage everyone to do the same.

By Edward Powe – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture

 

The Render Paradigm

As architecture students, we are entering into an extremely competitive working profession, one which is benefiting, or some would say suffering, from an increasing variety of channels through which architectural designs can be represented. The days of pencil and drawing board are numbered, and are being replaced instead by photo-realistic, idealised renders which in some cases deceive the client to buy into a proposal based on the quality of the graphic, rather than the quality of the design. So are these renders good or bad for the profession, or should we go back to the days of the pencil?

At university, speaking from personal experience, I have found that in order to get attention from other students and visitors to the school, your designs must stand out, either through striking visuals and colour or through quirky presentation techniques, ie video etc. Even the most exquisitely designed proposals can easily be lost under a smokescreen of artistic flair when students work is displayed together, as it usually is. This paradigm is worrying as it forces young architects to focus on graphic design and architectural design is often neglected. Time and time again, there is always a student who spend days producing exquisite presentation sheets and is reassured by other students that they are guaranteed a good grade. The issue comes when the student receives a lower design mark than a student whose presentation sheets were not quite as exquisite but were backed up by a solid design process. This student is then left feeling confused due to a misunderstanding of where his presentation lacked, after all, how could such a beautifully presented design receive such a low grade?

This student, like so many clients in the profession, has fallen prey to the deceptive nature of architectural renders, the only difference in the industry is that many clients are unable to see through this artistic smokescreen.

Many students look towards resources like precedents medals and top architectural universities for design inspiration, however many students, including myself, unknowingly find themselves taking away only graphic design inspiration rather than what we were searching for in the first place. I’m sure you can see how this vicious circle, encouraged by the current architecture education system and the industry itself can have a detrimental effect on the quality of building produced in the modern day.

Don’t get me wrong, artistic, realistic renders can be extremely useful in explaining complex concepts using only a few images, so long as they accurately represent the design which is to be built. As well as this, the emergence of sophisticated augmented reality software can greatly benefit firms trying to conveying a design to a client who is not likely to be able to interpret traditions orthographic drawings. What clients want to know is what the design is like to be in, and with this new software, they can be physically immersed into a realistic version of such a design.

Clearly there are major advantages which come with the use of realistic renders to convey a design, however, I feel that in order for their successful application, raw architectural design must be given greater attention, and not come as a byproduct of a graphic designers piece of art.

Please leave your opinion using the comments button below.

By Edward Powe – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture

 

Dr Luciano Cardellicchio launches new book in Perugia

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Dr Luciano Cardellicchio will present a paper entitled “Sophisticated craftsmanship: the new Hertziana Library in Rome by Juan Navarro Baldeweg” at the second international conference “AID Monuments” organised by the City of Perugia and the School of Civil Engineering of University of Perugia, from the 13th to the 16th of May.

The paper will highlight the research outcomes of Dr Cardellicchio’s new book “La nuova Bibliotheca Hertziana. L’architettura e la sua costruzione”.

For more information on the conference, please click here.

SAHGB offer PhD scholarships

The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain are providing scholarships to fund postgraduates studying for a PhD in architectural history at a United Kingdom university.

The scholarship is currently £13,500 per academic year and is available for a maximum of three years, renewable subject to satisfactory academic performance and to the Society’s finances.

This year, there are two places available and applicants must apply by June 15, 2015.

The Terms & Conditions of the PhD Scholarships can be found on the SAHGB website.

Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou and Dr Richard Watkins to give the GreenBRIDGE seminar in Cambridge

Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou, KSA Director of Research, and Dr Richard Watkins from CASE (Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment) will give the GreenBRIDGE seminar at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, on Tuesday 12th May.

GreenBRIDGE is a society of graduate researchers at the University of Cambridge with an interest in the sustainability of the built environment.

Their seminar is entitled “Low energy buildings – reality vs. expectation.  It is going to discuss the results of the building performance evaluation of a recently completed TSB-funded project, the Jarman School of Arts, recipient of a RIBA-2010 award.

Further details can be found here or visit the GreenBRIDGE website.

Dr Luciano Cardellicchio has new book published

Dr Luciano Cardellicchio’s book entitled La nuova Bibliotheca Hertziana. L’architettura e la sua costruzione has just been published by Aracne.

Since 2013, Juan Navarro Baldeweg’s new Bibliotheca Hertziana has been placed on the site of the garden of Federico Zuccari’s house in the urban centre of Rome. This book presents the design of this example of contemporary architecture and, in detail, its bold construction process.

Given the certainty that no contemporary structure would ever have seen the light in a place so full of  archaeological ruins, and whose sediments are scattered throughout every existing element, the architectural project has deferred to the cause of archaeology. This is the reason why the whole building sits on a transfer slab three metres high, with pre-stressed ribs, comprised the beams of a bridge system resting on just two strips of land outside the building. Under this sophisticated structural element  the archaeology lies undisturbed. The environmental constraints of the site, sandwiched between busy roads and monumental buildings; the unusual technical difficulties; the original and cutting-edge structural solutions; the creative contribution of the professionals and of the building workers involved all contribute to a fascinating story about how an architectural challenge has enriched Rome with a new masterpiece.

The book is published by Aracne for the series ‘AID Monuments’ directed by Claudia Conforti and Vittorio Gusella.

Image: The new Hertziana library. Digital model of the structural system. (Author: Luciano Cardellicchio)

Two new prestigious fellowships awarded as KSA has reached 7th position in the Complete University Guide for Architecture

We are delighted that two of our academic members have been awarded prestigious fellowships. Dr Manolo Guerci was recently elected to a Paul Mellon Mid-Career Fellowship and Dr David H. Haney was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship.  Both of them will be on a writing sabbatical for the academic year 2015-16. This highlights the School’s environment that is conducive to research of international excellence, placing us firmly along with the best schools of architecture in the country.