BA Architecture – Student Profile – Nic Stamford

After finishing my final critique for the last project of my Bachelors at Kent School of Architecture in May 2013 I began to pull together my full portfolio of work. I spent about a month getting my work to a level I was happy with before I started to send out applications. This is usually very late to get this ready as many positions in the UK are already being filled earlier in the year, however I had my sights set further abroad in Japan. This worked out well for me since the educational scheduling in Japan differs from the UK meaning that my applications were well-timed.

Working abroad, particularly in Japan, was something that I had been preparing for in my last two years at University. I had always had a great interest in Japanese culture and decided that my Part 1 year out would be the perfect opportunity to both gain experience towards my career and explore this cultural interest of mine. At the start of my second year I began language classes at the University, which I then went on to continue right up until I finished my degree.

I sent out around 20 applications to practices in Japan and within one week had only received three replies. Two of these replies were in full Japanese, which meant that it took me a while to decipher these messages only to find out that they were not accepting interns. The final reply I received was from a small but fairly successful practice based in Hiroshima – Suppose Design Office. I was presented with a 6 month offer to work as an intern, with one catch – interns are not paid. I was extremely excited to receive the offer and they even reassured me that my very basic language capabilities were sufficient which was perfect. The money situation however was something which was a huge decision for me. I had saved money working in a restaurant during my degree but I knew that the costs of living in Japan with no income would take its toll on my savings. In the end, I decided that this was a rare opportunity that would hopefully pay off in the future and took the job.

I began my work in Japan on September 23rd 2013. On my first day I was briefed about the job and it wasn’t until then that I really grasped just how different their culture is. My working hours, which I had neglected to ask before, were 8.45am – 10pm Monday to Saturday. I could not believe this, however before long I realised that in Japanese working culture, the first person to leave the office is essentially deemed the worst worker so I actually ended up working from 8.45am to around 1am, even working Sunday’s every now and then. I resolved to push through it with the mind-set that if I could survive these hours for six months I could survive anything in the UK.

The language was a great struggle at first as it was much faster than I had ever experience in the classes back home, but I knew that I would pick it up as I went along, which I did. I had always been told by others that working in large practices meant you have very little design input and effectively become a CAD-monkey. Pushed by this, when it came down to applying for practices, I approached mainly small to medium sized companies. Suppose Design Office had around 25 staff, so a fairly small office. The claims about working in small practices providing more design input were not true. I was effectively a dogsbody for 6 months. I started off making lots of physical models and then when they found out that I could 3D model and render well, I became the modelling and visualisation minion. All the skills I had learnt in University were definitely put to good use and the hours spent in Japan developing these skills were absolutely not a waste. I had to really push to be involved in a wider range of the design process, such as conceptual work, development and construction-related tasks. In Japan they are not aware of the requirements of the PEDR forms so in a way it made sense that it was down to me to make sure I was covering the range of experience I needed.

In the end I was put on a team with one of the more experienced members of staff on a new project based in Tokyo. My software capabilities meant that I was able to model and develop the complex scheme which no-one else in the office could do. This was great for me and meant that I was forced into a position where I had design input and great amounts of responsibility. I followed this project right up until I left and it gave me a huge amount of experience. The project is now being constructed which I am updated on every now and then by my colleagues.

Approaching the end of my time in Japan, I decided that it would be wise to start looking for jobs before I left, so that I didn’t have much wasted time between working. Working crazy hours for such a long time had really made me proactive about work, so about a month before my last day at Suppose on 25th March I sent 15 applications to English practices. I received only two replies, both of which led to interviews for when I returned. This time I had applied for a range of practices, from large to small, however I targeted ones that were involved in public and cultural projects which I am particularly interested in. I arrived back in England on the 5th April and had my first interview at Make Architects on the 14th. I started work at Make the next day.

Having now been at Make for a month and a half I can see just how contrasting practices can be. My hours are much more regular, which seem a breeze in comparison, I’m being paid and I actually have much more design input and responsibility. My experience working abroad cannot be knocked however because it made me stand out from other applicants and also gave me some interesting things to talk about in my interview. Aside from the career benefits gained from my time in Japan, I had an incredible time in a fascinating and beautiful culture which I will remember forever. It has expanded my understanding of the vastness of the world, which I feel has pushed me as a designer and greatly prepared me for my future in architecture.

I am now looking to either start my Masters course this year, or stay working at Make Architects until September 2015 before going back to my studies.

Academic Peer Mentor – Rebekah Tien

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

I signed up for the mentoring scheme mainly out of curiosity, and did not expect to gain a lot from the experience. However, I did learn a lot from it, and really enjoyed the whole process. For me, being a mentor not only allowed me to help my mentees, but also to learn from the process and to learn from the mentees. It is very interesting to me to see how other people cope with the same problems I have experienced when I was in first or second year; and very rewarding to see my advice being taken on board and to learn from the solution finding process. I am very happy and very proud to see my mentees enjoying the course and I am very thankful for this amazing experience that helped me grow so much. Overall I think the mentoring scheme is a perfect opportunity for students in KSA to connect, to support, and to learn from each other.

Mentee: Gugulethu Moyo

Having a mentor is something I would encourage students to do, especially architecture students. Often it is hard to strike the right balance between school life and social life and having the guidance from someone who has been through it, makes a massive difference. Rebekah has been an awesome influence to be around. She has always encouraged reading ahead and also ran some CAD classes to help us to stay on track with this fast paced course. Having a mentor is something I would encourage but also something that shouldn’t be taken for granted!

Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou to give talk at ARCC event

Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou will talk at the ARCC event “Sensing the place – experiences & wayfinding in a changing climate” hosted by BuroHappold Engineering on Wednesday 27th April.

Drawing from research and practice, this event explores how urban environment design can affect our experiences and how we orientate ourselves. Speakers will examine the impact of urban design on how we sense, perceive and subsequently behave in city environments.

Marialena’s talk is entitled “Microclimate, thermal experience and urban design: increasing our adaptive capacity under climate change”

For more information, please click here.

Dr Carolina Vasilikou launches new Sensory Walks in Canterbury

Dr. Carolina Vasilikou launches a new series of sensory walks through Canterbury during April and May. The project is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK, and aims to engage participants in an interactive exploration of city spaces through the senses (visual, acoustic, olfactory, thermal and haptic). Walks run during weekdays and Saturdays, afternoon and early evening. To book a place and time, sign up at K.Vasilikou@kent.ac.uk.

 

Academic Peer Mentor – Daniel Atkinson

Stage 2 – BA (Hons) Architecture

Just feeling gratitude for the advice you’re giving and seeing that you are impacting someone else’s work is very rewarding. It was also refreshing to get away from my own work for a small amount of time to look at a completely different project and to take my personal experience from when I was in the exact same position to help them.

I would advise everyone to get involved in the scheme, especially in the first year, as you are put in the deep end and it’s always good to have someone that has already made the mistakes that you can avoid. It’s also good to get a bit of advice from a student rather than a tutor as sometimes the advice is about pleasing the tutors as best as possible. This has given me first-hand experience of tutoring, and has made me really consider this as a career option following my degree.

Mentee: Tilisha Franklin

I found the whole experience beneficial, the knowledge that there was someone that had experienced the same things as me and completed the same modules reassured me and I found it was a great support system. Also the fact that I could email them any questions or ask for advice and know that they might offer an alternative solution from the tutors was very helpful. Because this course is a design course and everyone has different options on architecture it was nice to know that option was available, especially when preparing for crits as feedback during that time is especially important.

One of the reasons I want to be a mentor next year is because I’ve really appreciated having a mentor this year.

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt awarded Faculty of Humanities ECR Prize for Early Career Research

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt was awarded the University of Kent ECR Humanities Research Prize for the research he has undertaken at the Kent School of Architecture over the past four years, including his ongoing work on the Houses of Parliament. In his acceptance speech, which is reproduced below, he highlighted how supportive the School had been in his development as a researcher and educator. In June 2016 he will start working full on a large AHRC funded research project ‘Between Heritage and Sustainability,’ which will feed into the Palace of Westminster restoration programme.

Acceptance speech by Dr. Schoenefeldt, given at the award ceremony at Darwin College, University of Kent, on 1 April 2016:

When I arrived at the University of Kent in September 2011 the school of architecture has only been in existence for six years. It was originally founded as a school for the eduction of professional architects and the primary focus was on teaching. Efforts to establish research as a second pillar, however, began only two years after its foundation. It began with the appointment of a new chair, Professor Gordana Fontana-Guisti in 2007, who coordinated first efforts to establish research and postgraduate studies. The focus at this point was in the humanities, primarily in the history and theory of architecture and urbanism. The Centre for Research in European Architecture was founded to provide a forum for these activities. The former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Karl Leydecker, had been driving initiatives to broaden the scope of the research, entering the fields of science and engineering. In Spring 2011 Marialena Nikolopoulou, who had nominated me for the university research prize and has been important mentor to me since arriving at Kent, was appointed as a second research chair to head this new strand, under the umbrella of a second research centre: Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment. I was one of three academics appointed to staff the new centre. Therefore I am very delighted to have been awarded this prize. Charles Snow’s two cultures, the arts and sciences, were now represented within one school. 

I studied at the University of Cambridge, in a department of architecture with a strong research ethos, and vision of Kent to become a place of teaching and research made highly attractive. In my own post-doctoral research over the past four years I have been able to bridge the gap between the sciences and arts as well as chasm between academic scholarship and architectural practice. My research over the past four years focused on the environmental design of the Houses of Parliament, an area that required a a technical analysis, historical research and architectural practice. I recently received an AHRC grant and over the next two years I will directly work with various parties involved in the Palace of Westminster refurbishment and renewal programme. It is the freedom offered by the KSA to develop ones own visions and the continual encouragement and support of Don Gray, Gordana and Marialena that enabled me to achieve this.

In the search for sustainable solutions and partnerships amongst different communities at Kent

Last week Enactus members Yusuf Radhi and Lewis Tisdall, KSA student Luisa Pires and Emma Dimond from Estates partnered up to build the Enactus Recycled Bottled Pavillion in order to promote Enactus most recent projects on self-sustained ideas for communities. Enactus Kent is a student led organisation, where students are encouraged to create their own projects following the Enactus criterion using “entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve their livelihoods in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.” They have projects that are going on internationally you can check more about them here: http://www.enactuskent.org/

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By Luisa Pereira Pires, Stage 3

Tale of The Swan Bridge

Oluwaseyi Sobogun_Erasmus Bridge

What terrified me most was not the grand scale of you
In fact I stood in awe of you
But you blew me away, you let the winds of the oceans nearly carry me away
Oh Erasmus bridge I wish it wasn’t true
Now I’m not sure to cross you
Unaware of what was to come
I stared blindly at your elegant form
Structurally confusing, you’re not the norm
The imbalance of your struts/ties makes me question how tensed you are
Were you in equilibrium or was there an unknown pull on one side
I’m really asking how do you stand
Nonetheless you caught my eye, so I couldn’t just pass you by
I never knew this about you before
But you’re 802 metres long and 139 high
I could have travelled the shard more than twice and still hadn’t reached your length
I suppose you had to be twice that size to connect the rather huge divide
Between the north and south side
But why didn’t Van Berkel, your creator consider
That spans as long as yours, wouldn’t be kind to little tourists, mere passer by
Making a journey on the winds side
Frankly, you left us utterly exposed
Our clothes blew, our hair flews and some couldn’t even move
You let the sea throw its best gales our way and guess what?
You won. You stole the day,
It started so peacefully as your path led the way, blissfully unaware we stormed ahead
Until that moment the very ground on which I stood,
You shook, you moved
As before I was never sure of your structural capability, now honestly I fear
You’re not as stable as your cables appear
I trusted you to carry me, can you carry the self-weight of you?
That deflected shape must not have looked pleasant
If the internal forces I was feeling from inside were relevant
Did you know it was possible? That the winds of your very Rotterdam were fiery
Potentially dangerous? I doubt you do, because something about you
Your sheer construction, history and fame pronounce you never knew
I apologise for my attack of you, first time experiences are never as easy as it seems
I judged you before I knew you,
I won’t lie I’ll definitely never cross you a second time, but you’re worth the thought
Oh swan, remain elegant graceful and architecturally beautiful

By Oluwaseyi Sobogun, Stage 2

Oluwaseyi Sobogun_Erasmus Bridge 02

KSA Foundation Chair Crit

The students involved in our Foundation programme had their crits on Thursday 31st March in the KSA Digital Crit Space. Our students were asked to design and create a chair made entirely out of cardboard. There were two design clauses: students were not allowed to use glue, and the chair couldn’t be at a 90o angle. Students tackled the brief using different approaches such as folding, slotting and rolling all to produce a variety of interestingly designed chairs. It was great to see other students from the school getting involved in testing out the different chairs to see if they held their weight and tested out the comfort level. Great work from all our foundation students!

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