Dr Schoenefeldt speaks at the University of Oxford about User-Experience in 19th Century Architecture

Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt is speaking at the Institute for Historical Research Conference ‘Architecture and Experience in the Nineteenth Century.’ It will be held at St. John’s College, University of Oxford, between 17 and 18 March 2016. His paper is entitled:

‘Between measurements and perception – How Victorian scientists assessed the climatic conditions inside the Houses of Commons, 1852- 54.

Modern methods of Building Performance Evaluations (BPE), such as Building Use Studies, combine physical measurements with questionnaire-based surveys looking at the experience of building users. BPEs are widely portrayed as a modern practice that had evolved in the 20th century, but Dr. Schoenefeldt’s research has shown that an interest in evaluating building from a user-experience point of view has a much longer history. His paper will explore the role of the building user in the evaluation and design of the environmental systems inside the House of Commons. It focuses on a system developed by the medical doctor David Boswell Reid between 1847 and 1853. The paper is based on historic user-surveys, scientific reports and the engineers’ log-books, which were used to gain =insights into how Victorian engineers and scientists physically measured the climatic conditions inside the debating chamber and studied the MPs personal perceptions of these conditions. Despite extensive efforts to improve the design and management, the system never succeed in meeting the MPs’ expectations, an issue that finally led to its decommissioning after only two years.

Busy week ahead for KASA (Kent Architecture Student Association)

This week will be a busy week for our student association KASA as they are hosting three events, all of which are listed below:

Tuesday 8th March (17:30) Kasa Open Lecture – Stephen Proctor

Stephen Proctor of Proctor and Matthews will be presenting a lecture at 18:00 with drinks from 17:30:

‘Stephen Proctor and Andrew Matthews established their London based studio in 1988. With projects in the UK and abroad Proctor and Matthews is recognised as one of the country’s leading architecture and urban design practices. 

An extensive portfolio of completed work demonstrates a focused commitment to imaginative and appropriate designs tailored to the specifics of each commission. This combines a regard for historical contexts and cultural identities with the need to create socially and environmentally responsive architecture. 

The studio continues to explore these themes through current projects with a particular focus on the concept of ‘narrative’ in place making. Current work includes the design of new residential neighbourhoods on the expanding fringes of Cambridge and Canterbury and most recently collaboration with the Dutch based practice, Mecanoo, on the design of a new neighbourhood focus to Thamesmead.’

Wednesday 9th March (11:00-12:00) Revit Tutorial

Learn how to create high quality visualisations directly from Revit.

KASA is delighted to announce Revit Class, taught by Serwan Saleme. Serwan has received a high level of interest in using Revit for producing renders; his tutorial may help you to produce time effective visuals to accompany your physical models and drawings in presentations. This tutorial will be particularly useful for 3rd year intercrits this Friday and all school members are welcome – first come first serve:

£2 For KASA Members
£5 For Non-Kasa Members

Monday 14th March: (16:00-18:00) The Architect’s Football Tournament 2016

£5 Entry, 5-a-side, 5 Teams

Team up with your coursemates, tutors, mentors, mentees, Create Staff, Kevin, Collin, or pretty much anyone in our school to pick your best 5 players (+ subs) to enter the architects’ tournament of the year! Bibs will be provided unless you are already colour-coordinated and there will be a FA Certified Referee controlling the games. Four teams will play at a time with the fifth team keeping warm, going over their tactics or simply finishing a round at the Pavillion bar. The session will end with a full-pitch friendly kick about to warm down.

Conservation as an approach for tomorrow

Good architects should all be conservationists. As architects, we understand the vital importance of context. Unlike artists, architects never initiate a design process with a blank canvas. Good design is always informed. Architecture is possibly the only profession that create its own problems and solutions.

To clarify, conservation does not necessarily require a conservative approach. To take a conservationist approach is to first recognise the existing value, past value, then to try and preserve those values whilst making appropriate additions to create future value.

Let’s begin with recognition. What do we mean by value? How does anyone identify something worth protecting? The answer may be found in the, somewhat snobbish, words of John Ruskin, “Any work, over which educated, artistic people would think it worthwhile to argue at all”. Today, we may expand on this notion by including disciplines other than cultural, to include social and environmental aspects as well. Much like Max Dvorak’s “conservation not restoration”, Ruskin makes a clear distinction between restoration and repair. In the views of Ruskin, to restore is not only destructive, but it is completely impossible. For any new rendition, no matter how accurate, ‘is a false description of the thing destroyed’. To Ruskin, value extends beyond form to the very matter which created form itself; new stones do not equate to the work of old craftsman.

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This conservative approach is not always practical however, as in the case of the Neues Museum, Berlin. Cue sensitive conservation. The aftermath of WWII and soviet occupation left the building in ruins and not much to be conserved. David Chipperfied recognised the past value of the very matter that made up the ruin itself and the current value of the wrecked form of the former building as a reminder of the historical event of war. He also recognised the future value in restoring the building for use by the general public as a museum once again. The building was sensitively restored. Instead of a complete restoration, the new elements were muted interpretations of the original. This way the building managed to maintain the scars from war as well as embracing restored volume.

But what if none of the original building envelope exists?

In July 1902, San Marco Campanile, Venice, collapsed completely. The decision was taken to entirely rebuild the tower using the same materials and method as prior to the incident. The justification in this case is that the symbolic value of the bell tower is integral to the identity of St Mark’s and the square which cannot be sensibly represented in the form of the rubble that remained, thus it had to be rebuilt. In fact this is not the first time that the Campanile has been restored. It went through multiple restorations to finally resume its current shape in 1511 with minor alterations up until then. The tower today is able to symbolically retain its past even if it may not be physically authentic.

In one example, symbolical value is placed above physical value. Ise Grand Shrine, Japan, is rebuilt every twenty years alternating between two sites. While on the surface, this may seem to be counter intuitive when it comes to conservation. However, the rebuilding serves as a way of passing building techniques from one generation to the next. The shrine is rebuilt with exactly the same materials, dimensions and methodology. Matter is not conserved here but cultural, historical and social heritage are definitely preserved.

Today we must recognise the importance of the existing cultural, historical, social and environmental heritage. Architects mustn’t brashly design for tomorrow without any regards for the past. Equally it seems irresponsible not to contribute anything for future generations. We must take responsibility for our legacy and do so by being good conservationists.

By Aut Angpanitcharoen, Stage 3

Destitute of Vision

tbmThe link between architecture and traditional craft is slowly becoming a thing of a bygone era. Replaced by self organising parametric systems, the role of the architect as a designer is gradually being consumed by digital mechanisms of the virtual world. Firms and offices now inhabit small spaces, where, what was once a thriving workshop has been reduced to a few screens that narrow down a lineage craft into a few algorithms. Utopia or Dystopia? The Drone is becoming the new building contractor, the world Kibwe Tavares envisioned in Robots of Brixton is soon becoming a reality. Fallen into the abyss of its own contradictions; contemporary architecture has become a sporadic movement of eclectic thoughts and innovations that have left no coherence or direction for the future of the profession. In it we walk in with our graduation caps and gowns, blind folded. What do I take with me? -my sketchbook or my laptop? What do I use to represent me? –  my flash drive with that digital render or the pencil axonometric on A1 trace paper? Maybe I’ll muscle that humongous vinyl portfolio that sways vigorously in the south westerly wind or should I just copy and paste the link to my newly designed Wix page that I can’t seem to get rid of the water mark on? My thoughts cannot help but ponder, I wonder what Pugin would have thought, whatever his sentiments one thing for sure is, he would not have approved of these solar magnifying, heat enhancing, generic conservatories doing all sorts of structural gymnastics in the modern cityscape. We are left with no option but to embrace ambiguity, we are left with choice but to follow suit and design buildings dependent on a fuel that is about to bring the world to the brink of global warming and war, we are left defenseless, directionless – we are left “destitute of vision”.

Congratulations Alejandro Aravena 2016 Pritzker Laureate- A potent manifestation of what contemporary architecture needs.

By Themba Ben Mtwazi, Stage 3, for Pencraft 2016

Image source:
http://www.miltonstart.com/blog/2014/08/01/google-catches-child-pornographer-via-email/confused-blindfolded-bald-head-man-using-a-computer/