Outrage: Commonwealth Institute Betrayed

The prestigious international monthly the Architectural Review leads this week with Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin’s attack on the recent destruction of Sylvia Crowe’s setting of the Commonwealth Institute in London – ‘the rape of a sacred landscape’. The area between the Institute and the street was designed by Sylvia Crowe, one of the most highly regarded landscape architects in Britain at the time, as an integral part of Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall’s famous Institute building in Kensington. As a ‘registered’ landscape, equivalent to ‘listing’,  this setting should have been preserved for posterity so that everyone could enjoy an oasis in a busy part of London; instead, it has been developed for private flats and parking.

To read the full article, please visit the Architectural Review – http://bit.ly/2fEzYOs

Timothy Brittain-Catlin speaks at ETH Zurich, 17th November 2016

Timothy Brittain-Catlin was invited to address this year’s Annual Colloquium of Doctoral Students of the Institute of Technology (ITA) and the History and Theory of Architecture (GTA) at ETH Zurich, alongside Professor Peggy Deamer of the Yale School of Architecture, on the theme of ‘Professionalism’. Brittain-Catlin spoke on 17th November about the traditions and sources of architectural history-writing in Britain, and in particular about the role that amenity societies play in generating new narratives about buildings which in turn emphasise their wider importance and cultural value. The colloquium further comprised a seminar afternoon and a day of graduate presentations.

Brittain-Catlin’s lecture, ‘The Success of Failure’, is available on KAR at https://kar.kent.ac.uk/58810/

Academic Peer Mentor – Robert Allcoat

Stage 4 – MArch

Last year I mentored a number of Stage 3 students. The first point that struck me about the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme was the objectivity required; architecture, however, is a very subjective course, especially when it comes to design projects. Striking a balance between the two was quite a challenge.

From the offset most of the mentees had many questions, both about the year ahead and the Part I year out. To me this demonstrated the mentees’ curiosity and their desire to find out more. I had been through the same course and had had similar projects to them, so I appreciated the type of questions they might have and the value of extra help.

Throughout the year we covered a variety of topics and, from presentation techniques and styles to specific project questions, advice with CVs and portfolios for their coming year out to the fundamentals of line-weights. Quite often a question would put me on the spot, to which I would not know the answer; in that situation you simply have to be honest and say you do not know, or try to help them find the answer later on.

It is the first year the School of Architecture has been part of the mentoring scheme and I think it has worked very well. It not only provides the mentees with another outlet to discuss project work and ideas, and to put forward specific questions; it gives them support from someone on the same level with them — albeit with a little more experience – to hopefully guide them without the pressure of a student-tutor relationship.

From the perspective as a mentor it has helped me to think of different ways to explain something that might – at first glance – seem evident to me, reinforcing the importance of clear communication. I appreciate how important and valuable it can be to discuss ideas and topics with someone who perhaps is not so familiar with your project work, and that they may offer a completely different perspective on it. The mentoring scheme is certainly something I would like to participate in again next year.

Mentee: Charlotte Middleton

The mentoring scheme set up by the university was invaluable during my third year in the school. With the uncertainty about life after university, the mentor was there to answer questions and reassure from first-hand experience. I received help in improving my CV and portfolio, strengthening my application for Part 1 placements. During the year, it was useful to talk to a student who had already been through the projects and was able to advise on time-keeping, organisation and aid with the designs themselves. The scheme has been extremely helpful for me and I shall definitely be signing up as a mentor to give back to it.

Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti, KSA professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Humanities has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (https://www.thersa.org).

The Royal Society of Arts was founded in 1754 with a belief that the creativity of ideas could enrich social progress. As such, the RSA has had a long-lasting commitment to education and the environment. This election is an important recognition of Professor Fontana-Giusti’s work, which has concentrated on theory of architecture and urban design promoting the role of arts and humanities in sustainable urban design for cities today.

Most recently, Professor Fontana-Giusti has written the following articles:

  • Fontana-Giusti, G. (2016) ‘The Landscape of the Mind: A Conversation with Bernard Tschumi’, Architecture and Culture, Volume 4, 2016 – Issue 2: London: Taylor&Francis, pp263-280. ISSN: 2050-7828 (Print) 2050-7836 (Online) doi: 10.1080/20507828.2016.1176432
  • Fontana-Giusti, G. (2016) ‘Zaha Hadid: 1950–2016’, Architectural Research Quarterly, 20(2), pp. 95–98. doi: 10.1017/S1359135516000348.

MArch Student Profile – Rosie Seaman

What made you want to return to Kent?
Prior to undergraduate I always sought to study at a school that allowed the opportunity to continue from BA to March and experience the progression from first year to fifth year in once place. The connection between place and people, and support of the staff to enable MArch to be as enjoyable and fulfilled as possible was extremely important, thus meaning Kent was always the obvious choice for me.

How do you feel that the learning environment has changed between the BA and the MArch?
MArch is an experience where you can grow as an individual. Your ideas and beliefs about architecture and architectural context are nurtured and it is encouraged that you follow a path that you are interested in to create rich and interesting work; plus the wide resources of teaching staff give valuable input which in turn allows your knowledge to grow even more. There is no doubt that you will come out the other side of this course with a better understanding of yourself in an architectural position and knowing something you didn’t know before.

Tell us about the unit system and the benefits of vertical learning (Stage 4 and 5 working together)
In MArch you are at a level where no matter whether you are 4th or 5th year you have something to learn from everybody. This may be within the course or it may be from the vast range of experience everyone has gathered during their time in practice, however it is all invaluable and vertical learning allows this to be dispersed across both the years. This is a time where we should be enjoying trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible before leaving education. The unit system works well in that sense as it allows different projects to be developed, and although the units work independently from each other, there is always an opportunity to learn from what another unit is doing.

What are you enjoying most about university?
You are always pushing yourself to the extremes and attempting to achieve work with exciting outcomes. Most of all, although we are sitting in the studio every day working hard, we are doing it with our friends and we are doing something we love – I definitely appreciate that.

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?
The support at Kent has always been of a very high standard, from BA through to MArch, and over the years you learn that the staff will always be there to help and ensure that you reach your highest potential.

KISS Annual Lecture presents Professor Alan Penn from the Bartlett, UCL

There has been a ‘spatial turn’ in many disciplines, with spatial analytical techniques and spatial theories becoming central to many research programmes and initiatives. The Kent Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies (KISS) is envisaged to be a UK research-leader in Interdisciplinary Spatial Studies in the Social Sciences and Humanities. KISS builds on strong in-house expertise that spans across the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and across campuses.

This year’s KISS Annual Lecture 2016 will be given by Professor Alan Penn, Dean at Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCL. His talk, entitled ‘Architectural space and social action: how does the built environment relate to human society?’ will be held in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 2 at 17.00 on Wednesday 16th November 2016.

RIBA South East ‘Meet Your Mentor’ event at Kent School of Architecture

This year’s RIBA Meet Your Mentor event was hosted at the Kent School of Architecture on Wednesday 9 November in the Digital Crit Space.

The mentoring scheme is offered to Stage 3 Part 1 undergraduate students who are RIBA Student Members, as practical preparation and help for their upcoming year out in industry. The scheme is run with RIBA South East and Schools of Architecture in the region to strengthen links between the Schools, their students and the RIBA practitioners.

It give students an insight into professional practice; through personal contact and regular involvement, mentoring gives opportunities for students (the mentees) and practitioners (the mentors) to discuss and develop joint understanding of professional practice in the context of the rapidly-changing role of architects. It is also excellent preparation for the year out in industry.

At the ‘Meet Your Mentor’ event, the mentors and mentees had initial discussions and made arrangements for future meetings to enable the mentees to gain an introduction to life in the practice office, and gain knowledge of current working projects.

Dr Manolo Guerci elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London

Dr Manolo Guerci, KSA Director of Graduate Studies, has been elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, England’s oldest and highly prestigious society for the preservation of architectural and artistic heritage (https://www.sal.org.uk/about-us/our-history/). This is an important recognition of Dr Guerci’s work, which has concentrated, over the past fifteen years, on Early-Modern European palaces, particularly in Italy, France and England. Dr Guerci’s latest book on the Great Houses of Strand: the ruling elite at home in Tudor and Jacoben London, will be published by Yale University Press.

MArch Student Profile – Virginia Tech Study Abroad – Jamie Hissey

Virginia Tech Study Abroad

If a university education is not only to achieve a qualification but to broaden your life experience then an opportunity to study abroad must be one of the best ways of helping to attain both of these goals. Having been a loyal architecture student at the University of Kent for both undergraduate and postgraduate, I wanted the opportunity to experience new teaching styles that would help me build on the solid educational foundation that Kent had already provided. When I heard about the possibility of studying abroad at the Washington Alexandria Architecture School (WAAC), Virginia Tech, I jumped at this opportunity. I submitted my portfolio to the department and was fortunate enough to be selected to represent Kent at the Virginia Tech Architecture School. I was also successful in gaining a Study Abroad Scholarship from Santander.

On arriving in Washington DC I was welcomed into the school with open arms. Since 1985, the WAAC has served to house a consortium of architecture schools from all over the globe. Currently, 13 universities are part of the consortium. This structure provides exposure to a diverse student and faculty perspectives and promotes and encourages a unique design dialogue. Once I had enrolled, I was met with many other students from all corners of the world under one roof. This was an amazing chance to live and work with other students from all across the world and learn from their experiences, design methods and teaching.

Virginia Tech’s classes are chosen on a credit system with further opportunities to audit other classes that interest you. With the variety of classes taught at the school I chose to study ‘The Theory of Urban Form’ and ‘Advanced Computer Aided Design’ alongside my thesis project entitled ‘The Embassy for Tea; A Didactic Landscape’. This final year project was started at the WAAC with the aim of returning to Kent to further develop the proposal using a combination of skills acquired both at Virginia Tech and Kent. I selected 3 tutors to serve as my committee members who each specialised in different fields of Architecture to tutor me throughout the term. The newly refurbished studio space and individual work station further encouraged me to make full use of my tutors and time at the school.

jamievirginia2The university accommodation was a complex of apartments in a converted church that made it easy to meet new people and socialise. During the time abroad I had the opportunity to visit many of the architecturally significant cities on the east coast including New York, Philadelphia, and of course Washington DC. As a school we also had the amazing opportunity to visit Frank Lloyd Wrights ‘Falling Water’ and ‘Kentuck Knob’ in Virginia. Other highlights for me included playing a season of rugby for Washington DC, experiencing a real American family thanksgiving and making a number of friends for life.

I really feel as though my time studying aboard has greatly benefited me as an architecture student. Being granted the opportunity to study abroad for the first term but return to Kent for the remainder of the year has enabled me, with the help of my tutors, to take what skills I gained at the WAAC, refine and combine them within the Kent program which will hopefully mould me into a better architect.

CREAte Open Lectures presents Tim Waterman from University of Greenwich

CREAte hosts it’s first Open Lecture for 2016/17 given by Tim Waterman, Senior Lecturer at Department of Architecture and Landscape, University of Greenwich with his talk entitled ‘Thailand, Highland and Secret Island: Landscape and Power in Bond Films’ on Wednesday 9th November at 6PM in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.

The landscapes portrayed in Bond films, from the Arcadian to the urban, are all expressive in various ways of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. From the branding of commodified scenography, such as the islands of Khao Phing Kan, featured in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, to multiple appearances of the Scottish Highlands, from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me to Skyfall in 2012, and innumerable scenes of patrician London cityscapes, Bond films reinforce the association of certain landscape typologies with the expression of financial and military earthly power. There is also an equivalent de-valuing of landscapes that express customary values of the commons (where traditional technologies are upstaged by Bond’s high tech, for example). This talk will examine the uses of landscape in Bond films from the cold war to neoliberalism and liquid modernity.