MArch Unit 3 Field Trip to Istanbul

In November 2013, Unit 3 MArch students were given the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey as part of their Design 4A project. The objective was to study this vibrant city as an ‘emergent urbanism’ and focus on the culture, activities and history that define the city today. The chosen site was located in Tophane; a location that has been subject to rapid social and urban changes, resulting in conflicting perceptions about the area. Whilst studying the site and the surrounding context, students were expected to think about the phrase ‘Made in Turkey’ and what products or processes add ‘value’ to how the city is portrayed.

The first day was spent at Istanbul Technical University, where Kent students teamed up with Turkish MArch students and the two parties provided effective feedback on each other’s projects to date. The day-run workshop proved most useful in learning new urban tactics and getting a different perspective on designing an intervention in a city. With this newfound knowledge gained from the ITU students and tutors, the Kent Marchers proceeded to look into mapping Istanbul through the use of photography and all-important sketching. One of the biggest challenges was taking a boat trip along the Golden Horn River and having to quickly draw a set of coherent sketches along the way!

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without getting the opportunity to visit some of Istanbul’s gems, such as The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace Museum and Hagia Sophia. These stunning landmarks that span the centuries helped the students to observe in depth the architectural language that Istanbul had to offer. Not forgetting the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, where souvenirs, snacks, jewellery, clothes and much more were aplenty. Some of the students even held their own when bargaining a good price with the locals! One of the newer places to visit was the Istanbul Modern Museum, which gave a contemporary spin on exhibition space and the modern artistic artefacts which can easily be compared to that of Tate Modern in London. The nightlife was buzzing, particularly Istikal Caddesi High Street, where the students indulged in delicious Turkish food (and drink!) while admiring the city lights and views.

Istanbul is a developing city that is highly recommended to visit and the students certainly had a terrific time being introduced to it, as well as becoming familiar with the site that has been chosen for their upcoming design proposals. A final thought: the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, which was sold practically everywhere, was absolutely refreshing in between the long, exploring walks!

By Srimathi Aiyer, Stage 4 MArch

RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Hannah Rozenberg

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

UCA, Canterbury, Thursday 14 November

As soon as I was told the name of the architect who was going to be my mentor, I briefly researched the kind of designs his practice had worked on. I was pleased to find out the practice was located in Whitstable and most of its projects were residential housing ones. However, I also read on their website that they handled domestic, residential and commercial buildings and could design extensions, new constructions, conversions as well as undertake renovations. Therefore, I was excited to learn more about the variety of the work accomplished in this practice.

We were warmly welcomed at UCA where the first meeting between the mentors and the mentees took place. As soon as my mentor, the other student I was paired with and I introduced ourselves, the architect told us about his background and how he ended up in the pleasant position he currently holds. He then told us about the way his practice is run and the type of projects they take on. I was able to ask him numerous questions about what I could expect in the future as an Architecture student as well as in an Architect position. We ended the meeting by deciding upon a new date to get together again in less than two weeks’ time.

The Practice, Tuesday 26 November

After meeting with the other mentee and a journey to Whitstable, we arrived at the architect’s practice. It is quite small as I expected it to be and to my disappointment, nearly empty. Indeed, my mentor was the only one there because his employees were not working in the office that morning. After a quick visit of the office, he invited us to go into the meeting room where we consulted various printed files explaining past and current works. We then talked about the most recent ones and he explained the different stages of a particular large project that had been in development for a few years and was still not finished. We then went to his office where he showed us a very impressive list of the countless projects he had worked on since the start of the practice. He also showed us computer renders of the work that his employees had made. Also he showed us various orthographic drawings which he had hand-drawn as well as some he produced on a computer. Again, we ended the meeting by deciding on a date after the Christmas break, to meet again.

Overall, the meeting was very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the architect’s work next time we meet and possibly even a visit to one of the practice’s projects.