Visualising our History

Architectural Visualisation students were treated to an insight into the past when English Heritage visited the school to talk about the nearby St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.  The archaeological site is the subject of the students’ latest project, Virtual Cities, which redirects techniques and skills typically used to visualise prospective architectural proposals, to reanimate the past.

The project will see students rebuild the Abbey to its former glory prior to the suppression by King Henry VIII in the 1530s.  The virtual model is designed to be fully navigable, allowing audiences the chance to experience the abbey complete with interpretations of the interior spaces and decoration.

Howard Griffin, Programme Director of the MA Architectural Visualisation courses said, “This is an exciting collaboration between the School of Architecture and English Heritage.  Our students have the chance to work with archaeological experts in recreating the past.  Much of the learning students are engaged with on this course is aimed at visualising the future.  However, we can use these same processes and skills to recreate the past as well.  Using real-time games technology allows audiences to navigate their way through a space in a way which cannot be achieved with simple computer animation.”

The project presents new challenges to the students, who ordinarily can rely on accurate architect’s drawings as a source of information.  Most of the Abbey and outer buildings were destroyed and little evidence remains of large parts of the site.  Collections Curator at English Heritage, Rowena Willard-Wright explained, “This project will be like building a jigsaw puzzle, but with only 3 pieces remaining.”

The first stage of the St. Augustine Abbey project is due to be completed by spring, with additional work and detailing to be completed later.

Stage 1 Barcelona Field Trip

Stage 1 visit Barcelona in the Autumn term. It is always fraught with difficulties trying to organise a venture such as this so early in the year, but the gains far out-weight the pain. The Architectural experiential benefits at the broadest level of such a visit are without question, but perhaps in parallel with this is the social interaction and bonding it promotes amongst a new cohort of students, the majority of which are experiencing for the first time ‘education away from home’.

Claire Schroeder – BA (Hons) Architecture

In December of 2013, many Stage 1 students departed for Barcelona, Spain at some ungodly hour of the morning, an effort however, which was regretted by none. Awaiting us was a week of intense picture taking, gallery viewing, site measuring and not to mention evening socialising. The objective of the trip was not only to record the site for the following term’s Building Design module but also to enjoy some of the main sites of one of Europe’s most animated cities all the while allowing students to build a strong group dynamic.

Throughout the course of the week we were able to visit some of Barcelona’s iconic features such as Park Guell, which we were lucky enough to be sketching under some southern December sun. We were also able to experience the masterpiece that is the Sagrada Familia, without forgetting, and continuing with the Gaudi theme, the Casa Milo and the Casa Batilo. All perfect examples of Gaudi’s great impact on the city. Other memorable sites were of course the Ramblas, the city’s center of attraction which leads down through Barceloneta, to the beautiful Port Olympic, home to Frank O. Gehry’s Fish.

Along with Barcelona comes not only architecture but also art, and the many impressive Galleries and Museums housing the works of so many, vastly diverse artists. In the midst of our treacherous hikes through the city we made many pit-stops at some of these buildings such as the Fundacio Joan Miro, the Museau d’Art Contemporani (MACBA), the Centre de Cultura Contemporania (CCCB) and many more, where we were able to admire what seems like only a small portion of the artistic wealth of the city as well as modestly attempt to capture these pieces in our own sketchbooks.

All educational trips do however include work. On this trip we had the task of choosing our six preferred pieces amongst the immense variety of art viewed during the week. Along side this we were also asked to take six photographs capturing everything we felt about six different places throughout the city, following the style of Roloff Beny. Most importantly however, the recording of the site for our Building Design module allowed us to experience hands-on everything that the analysis of a site entails, from the dimensions of lampposts to the environment the site is in, the current social occupation of the space and it’s current functionality throughout time.

Students took full advantage of evenings in the many charming restaurants and upbeat pubs and clubs in and around the city center, being reasonable as ever of course. The profound uniqueness of the city can be sensed everywhere, from the pixelated fruit on top of a market to a bull ring transformed into a shopping center or even a hospital laid out to represent the human body. There is definitely no way to capture how wonderfully charming Barcelona is in words, it’s a must-see, and I think I speak for everyone in saying that we had an absolute blast and that this trip was definitely an unforgettable experience.

RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Will King

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

RIBA South/South East’s Student Mentoring Scheme 2013/2014 Record

INITIAL MEETING – ‘Meet your mentor’
Thursday 14th November 2013, University Canterbury of Arts

– My mentor is enthusiastic, approachable and seems willing to share his experiences.

– He began his architectural career as a draughtsman specialising in perspective drawing.

– At the practice, my mentor tends to work on educational and community based projects.

– As part of the scheme, my mentor will be happy to give feedback on our individual portfolio and CV as well as offering a second opinion on our current studio design work.

– He believes that part one students keep the office up to date with the latest skill sets for using CAD programs such as Sketchup.

– He expressed interest in the K(a)SA lectures and I have subsequently emailed my mentor posters with details of the AHMM lecture which will take place on Tuesday 19th November 2013 for him to circulate around the office.

Next meeting: Wednesday 11th December 2013.

– The firm are currently reviewing their website design. It was suggested we criticise and give feedback on the current website for the next meeting.

– We shall be meeting a current part one architectural assistant and will be shown a couple of their current projects.

– We have been invited us to bring our work for the current design project Modular AR550. Overall the initial meeting was successful and promising.

Second Meeting: Wednesday 11th December 2013
Canterbury Office

My mentor presented a variety of schemes they have recently completed or are currently working on explaining their strategy and ideas behind the design process.

One of the projects included a scheme to upgrade the Grade II Gilbert Scott Church, known as St Gregory’s Centre for Music, for public performance and rehearsal space. The proposal included a 250 seat auditorium, intended to attract high quality musical performers. The proposed design is a sensitive response to the existing church and has evolved from tight space constraints. The practice made a decision early on in the design process to separate the new building from the existing church, creating a partially covered walkway that would be enlivened by the overspilling of tables and chairs from the café. The auditorium is sunken into the ground which reduces the visual impact of the building. The landscape design involves selective clearing of trees to create openings that frame views of the church and the proposed building from the enclosing streets that surround the site. Although the project received planning permission, the proposal remains un-built due to insufficient funds from the client. Despite this set back, they gained an alternative commission from the client to design and renovate the church interior with a smaller auditorium.

We were introduced to a current Part One Architectural Assistant at the Canterbury office. He described the challenges facing architecture graduates in finding suitable Part One placements and of the transition to professional work in practice.

My mentor suggested that for our own portfolios we should include drawings that communicate the thought process or strategies that inform our final designs.

Next meeting: Wednesday 29th January 2013

For our next meeting, we will be presenting our designs for our third year autumn design module Modular AR550 to the office. They are keen for us to present construction details which tend to be a weaker aspect of students designs.

RIBA South-East student mentoring scheme

Third  year Part 1 students at KSA have the  opportunity to be mentored by architects, usually based in the Canterbury area,  under the scheme run by the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA)  regional office. The scheme involves the mentored student  meeting with  their mentor near the beginning of the academic year; a visit to the mentor’s  practice; and two further meetings, one of which is a visit to a ‘live’  project. More  about student mentoring [1].

Emma Hilton-Grange – BA (Hons) Stage 3


Session  2:

Today we  travelled to the office in London to meet our mentor. It was good to see the  environment that the practice was working in and the facilities they had as  well as briefly meeting the team. Whilst at the office our mentor explained to  us the process of obtaining jobs, as well as the financial process of how these  are invoiced and at what points. Clients tend to pay much of the money before  the project has actually started being built, however as explained to us this  is due to the nature of an architect’s work, as much of it is undertaken prior  to any construction work. We were told how the contractor goes about invoicing  the client and the client- architect- contractor relationship, as the architect  is to work in the best interests of the client and to check the work invoiced  is done. I learnt a lot today about the actual workings of a job as well as  examples of projects that don’t always go to plan.

Site visit – before refurbishment

We then  travelled to Bassett Road in Notting Hill, the site of the residential project  we were told about in our previous meeting. Our mentor informed us that  although the site is now in its later stages of more finishing work, sites are  still generally dangerous places and gave us an insight into the workings of  building sites. We looked around the project and met the client where we got a  feel for the kind of relationship between the parties as she was specifying  changes, asking for clarification and reassurance. This particular site is no  longer being managed by our mentor as the client is project managing herself.  However, the practice still has a solid relationship with her and helps out  where possible: our mentor explained to us that this is important for future  contracts and recommendations. The project also showed us things are not always  built exactly how they are planned and that the role of the architect is to  check on this throughout the process.

Today was a  really interesting experience and I look forward to seeing the project when  finished as our mentor said he would keep us updated.

To read more, please visit our website.

Reconstructing the Victorian stack ventilation system of the Houses of Parliament: A historical approach

victoria tower

Up until the  1940s the Palace of Westminster was ventilated using a stack ventilation system  that originated in the mid-nineteenth century and was technically refined over  a period of ninety years, involving several design modifications. It was a  nineteenth century example of a mixed mode system, integrating natural and  mechanical strategies. Hot air was drawn out of the building using buoyancy  driven stack ventilation system, which exploited the waste heat from bodies,  smoke (from fire places, boilers and kitchens), gas lighting and the heating.  The air flow was assisted by steam jets or coke fires, and after 1904, by means  of electric fans. The historic stack system is no longer operational but  extensive archival evidence has survived and allows reconstructing the original  system in great detail as well as analysing its performance. This project is  based on extensive archival research conducted at the Smithsonian Institute,  British Library, Parliamentary, National, London Metropolitan Archives and the  libraries at UCL and the University of Cambridge. This material has not  been studied by historians in any depth before, and this project has shown  how primary source material can be used to reconstruct the design and  performance of the historic system in great detail. In addition, modern  technology and our current scientific understanding also enables  to  re-vitalize and improve the historic system. This possibility is investigated  as part current inquiries into sustainable environmental design strategies for  the refurbishment of the Palace. The primary research objectives of this  project are to regain a critical understanding of the original system, how it  was operated and performed under different conditions, using a combination of  archival research and technical analysis. Since the start of this project in  September 2011 the focus has been on historical research, involving extensive  archival research, which included the study of the original project  correspondence, drawings, sketches, measured data and scientific reports. An  analysis based on historic data, both quantitative and qualitative, has  provided detailed insights the system’s actual performance from the  mid-nineteenth century through to the 1940s. Archival evidence also illuminated  some of the technical issues encountered and the measures taken by the  Victorians to improve its performance, including numerous technical modifications  and changes to the environmental monitoring and control procedures. The methods  used by the Victorians in the development and testing of the system are also  studied. The research project focuses on four main areas:

(1)     reconstruction of the design and management of the historic system

(2)     analysis of the design development process and the original environmental  design objectives

(3)     study of the post-occupancy history, which includes a detailed analysis of the  system’s performance as well as the various technical refinements made  throughout its lifetime

(4)     Design-led studies into potential strategies for re-vitalizing parts of the historic  system as part of a sustainable ventilation strategy for the Houses of  Parliament.

This project is co-ordinated by Dr.  Henrik Schoenefeldt and in 2013 was extended to include collaborations with the  Parliamentary Design Authority.


The current focus of this collaboration is on  ventilation of the House of Lords debating chamber, which includes a detailed  reconstruction and performance analysis of the historic system, based on  archival research, computer fluid dynamic simulations and surveys of the  existing chamber. This analysis is used to re-valuating the effectiveness of  the historic system relative to nineteenth century and modern benchmarks of  energy efficiency, thermal comfort and air quality. The findings of a  preliminary study has been outlined in a report entitled First Report on the  Victorian ventilation system of the House of Lords – Its design and evolution,  1839-54, which was submitted in January 2014. The report focuses on the  evolution of the original Victorian system in the House of Lords from the 1840s  till 1854, with a particular focus on the design introduced by Charles Barry’s  team in 1846 and its subsequent remodelling. This will be followed by  design-led research, interrogating various alternative scenarios for  revitalizing optimizing the performance of the historic system.

To read more please visit Dr Schoenefeldt’s staff page.

Charlotte Earnshaw Stage 3 – Work Experience Week

Charlotte has just undertaken a week of work experience at a local architecture practice in Hythe. The placement was offered to Charlotte after enrolling on the RIBA South-East mentoring scheme which is offered to Stage 3 Kent School of Architecture students.

Work Experience – Charlotte Earnshaw


I began the week by working on the same school scheme that I had  been involved with on my previous visit to the practice to see the mentor I have been paired with on the student mentoring scheme. It was interesting to see how the  scheme had developed and I was quite pleased that the areas I had been part of  developing were working well within the overall scheme. Instead of developing  the school further, I was given the task of planning out a small area of the  site which was originally a school car park and playground space- the proposed  area is due to become a housing estate of 15 units. I drew up the sketch scheme  in CAD, a similar task to the one I did during my first visit.  This task took several hours as various  factors needed to be resolved.

Later in the week I moved onto a  different housing project and took part in amending plans and elevation  drawings, this project was due to meet a deadline on Friday so it was  imperative that I worked efficiently and made use of the time wisely so that I  was not hindering the development of the scheme by being slow. I feel that this  experience was very important and I was able to put into context the importance  of design flare accompanied by efficiency and ability to clearly and  effectively communicate to other team members. I had been fortunate to work with  a part 1 student in her year in industry during this design process which was  helpful and I gained many useful tips during this process. I also used my  knowledge of Photoshop and other display software to help layout sheets to be  viewed at a large scale as presentation devices.

Large meetings were held throughout the  week about the 2 projects I had been working with and further developments were  made to both schemes, it was interesting to see the number of people required  to be part of the process as I had not anticipated the importance of large  meetings such as the ones held in these situations and have gained further  understanding of the implication of time and money towards large scale  developments of residential and educational developments.

In addition to the design work, I  participated in mass tea/coffee making and A1 paper folding, both of which I  am incredibly talented at!

By the end of the week I was feeling part of the team and  was glad I had participated in a full week of mentoring rather than one  singular day as it gave me a fuller insight into the general process of  development. I am looking forward to a site visit on my third visit and am  hoping to the see the school developments later in the year.

PhD Scholarships: CHASE (AHRC)

Full AHRC funding for Home/EU students is available from  the new Consortium for Humanities and the Arts in Southeast England – CHASE, of  which Kent and six other institutions are members. There will be 75 AHRC-funded  CHASE studentships available in 2014/15 across the entire consortium.  Candidates will have to apply for a place on one of our PhD programmes as early  as possible and no later than 31 January 2014 to be considered for a CHASE  studentship. You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor as soon as  possible and start working with them and the PhD Director on your application.

For further information please click here or visit the CHASE website.

To apply please send your proposal to Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin:, Director of Graduate Studies. Please specify in the email that you are applying for the CHASE scholarship.