Dr Nikolaos Karydis: Lecture on the Construction of Gothic Cathedrals

On Tuesday 27 March, Dr Karydis will give a talk about the construction, mechanics, and science of Gothic cathedrals. This talk will take place at Canterbury Cathedral and is conceived as a focused introduction, and source of inspiration, for historians, literary scholars, art historians and beyond working broadly on the middle ages and early modern period in Europe (including the British Isles). This talk has been commissioned by Birkbeck, University of London and forms part of a CHASE training programme entitled ‘Network: The Matter of the Archive before 1700’.

Image: Study of Gothic Vaulting, Nikolaos Karydis, 2006.

Dr. Luciano Cardellicchio awarded the Leverhulme Research Fellowship

Dr. Luciano Cardellicchio has been awarded the Leverhulme Research Fellowship. This prestigious grant will allow Luciano to develop his research project, ‘Our Future Heritage: conservation issues of contemporary architecture in Rome’.

A substantial number of iconic buildings distinguished by complex geometries have been constructed in the last two decades in Europe. For their cultural and urban contribution, these contemporary icons are likely to be part of our future heritage. Due to the use of bespoke untested building systems, many of these buildings are experiencing failures and premature decay.

This research wants to measure the transience of contemporary architecture from a technical perspective, engaging with the following question: will our future heritage be sustainable to preserve? The ultimate aim is to turn the ageing pattern of these iconic buildings into a learning platform to create new technical knowledge.

APM Mentor: Na’eemah Mehta

Despite the vast array of information available to a student, there is no substitute for the wisdom gained through experience. Often the conception of a design relies on your ability to pull together intangible ideas and theories and attempt to create something substantial from them. I believe that this is where the true strength of the Academic Peer Mentoring system is demonstrated, often I find that even 20 minutes talking to my mentor yields more beneficial points of reference than a whole day searching through the internet in an attempt to find relevant information.

As a second year student I find myself more informed and aware on what to look for and how to talk about architecture, allowing sessions with my mentor to be enlightening and productive as I gain the value of an additional perspective. Likewise, I find myself able to inform and help guide my own mentees by providing my own experience and sharing knowledge with them. The process of being involved in another architects’ design process allows a flow of ideas and the chance to inform and cultivate the way we think of architectural values and principles.

Of course the importance of cooperation and a need for commitment is imperative to ensure that the sessions are productive and useful. My role as a mentor means that I need to be able to organise meetings, evaluate what will be beneficial to my mentees and keep a handle on time management, skills that I have no doubt will be beneficial to me in the future. Moreover, the ability to create an environment and conversation where my mentees feel capable to entrust me with even their most farfetched ideas and opinions is an invaluable skill that enhances my own ability to communicate with others. The creation of a space that allows such conversation is also invaluable to me as a mentee, it is much less intimidating to present ideas that you yourself aren’t sure of to a mentor before your tutor and gaining their advice on how to present it, often their encouragement helps bolster confidence in my own ideas and my own instinct as an architect.

By Na’eemah Mehta
Stage 2, BA (Hons) Architecture

APM Student Profile: Bahnnisikha Misra

As a mature international student in my first year, I was keen to accept help in any form to ease the transition into life as a student at Kent School of Architecture, and my peer mentor, a Stage 3 student was the most valuable point of contact at the time. From him I learned about the myriad resources that have since helped my design process, efficient work habits, how to make the best of the School’s workshop and IT labs, and which skills to develop to increase employability. Apart from helping me get the most out of life at University, he inspired me to tap into my creativity and be unafraid of experimenting in my projects.

Subsequently in Stages 2 and 3, I have continued to engage in the Academic Peer Mentoring Scheme, both as a mentee and a mentor. While my mentors continue to open my eyes to the world of possibilities in architecture, I have had great satisfaction in passing it on to my mentees.

Being a mentor involves time, investment and the will to expend energy on another student’s project, sometimes in the midst of one’s own tight deadlines. However, through the exchange of views and in understanding the design process of each of my mentees, I believe that I have learned as much from them as they have from me. It is exciting to be part of another designer’s progression of ideas, and to appreciate first-hand how concepts emerge and progress in somebody else’s mind.

Through the mentoring experience, I have developed the ability to critically analyse each scheme t and find creative solutions to various problems; to provide my views in a way that compels and inspires my mentees to find efficient solutions without handing them a definitive answer. I have learned to create a comfortable environment in which someone initially unfamiliar to me can feel comfortable discussing their academic uncertainties. I have also learned to communicate constructive feedback in a way that stimulates thought rather than ridicule.

Despite the Academic Peer Mentoring being a professional programme, I have been fortunate enough to form friendships that go beyond the scheme, and grown to care for my mentees on a more personal level.

I am confident that the skills I have acquired will prove valuable in my career after university and help me get the best out of life at practice.

By Bahnnisikha Misra
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

PhD Seminar Series: Howard Griffin

The next PhD Seminar will be given by Howard Griffin, MA Architectural Visualisation programme director, on Wednesday 14th March at 4pm in the Digital Crit Space.

Moving the immovable: projection-mapping and the changing face of architecture

The ‘lumière’ festival has, in recent years, become an established form of public festival, with many cities and heritage sites seizing the opportunity to attract large audiences and increase tourism revenues.  Lumière festivals now benefit from the advance in digital technology, which allows light to be mapped to specific surfaces and spaces through projection.  This form of light installation, known as projection-mapping, delivers an added sense of spectacle, with onlookers taking the chance to witness momentary changes to the urban canvas, engaging with buildings in new ways.

At night, artificial light shapes the space around us, highlighting routes, exposing features, forming shadows, and provides architecture an altered, arguably dynamic, identity. Whether by candle, fire, gas or electricity, light has the capacity to change the way we see the space about us.  Projection mapping amplifies this, allowing artists to explore notions of altered façade, and changes to character, style and materiality.

The visual sense dominates particularly when judging scale, distance, texture and so on.  Experience informs us that most buildings are inanimate; solid objects designed for strength and security.  Yet, albeit briefly, our eyes disagree.  Projection-mapping can create illusions that change the very nature of architecture, causing the viewer to subconsciously question and review the alterations that seem to occur.  Windows can spin.  Walls can wobble.  Buildings can move.  Torre (2015) argues that buildings ‘concretize’ animation, giving depth to two-dimensional image.  However, it could be argued that projection-mapping liberates the built environment, animating the inanimate, moving the immovable.

This presentation will explore the methods used in projection mapping to deceive and skew perception of architectural form and space, and argues that this form of light show installation not only conjures and deceives, but develops new relationships between people and the cities and buildings around us.

CASE Open Lecture: Professor Sue Roaf, Heriot-Watt University

The next CASE Open Lecture will be given by Professor Sue Roaf, from Heriot-Watt University on Tuesday 20 March at 6pm in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.

How to Design a Comfortable Building

Comfort is a very costly business. Around 40% of global GDP is spent on buildings, for their construction, operation and demolition and most goes in keeping buildings cool or warm enough to occupy – using air-conditioning and central heating systems. That was fine in the age of cheap 20th century energy but as fossil fuels become less affordable – how will we afford to stay comfortable in the increasingly unstable and extreme weather, political and economic systems we occupy?  We need now to re-learn how to design buildings that can keep people thermally and economically safe in difficult times, not least in a warming world when so many modern buildings are over heating badly. This talk covers issues related to how and why many modern buildings fail to do so and describes a range basic Comfort Design Tools.  It proposes a three step method for designing comfortable buildings, based on lessons learnt while developing the adaptive approach to thermal comfort and describes a range of fundamental opportunities and planning methods for use during early comfortable buildings design stages.  It then outlines a few useful mind-set mantras that might help the designer in the process.

Sue Roaf gained her first degree in Architecture in 1975 at Manchester University. She subsequently went on to gain her Diploma in Architecture at the Architectural Association in London where she also took her Part 3 professional exam in 1978. In 1989 she was awarded a PhD for her study of the Windcatches of the Central Persian Desert from Oxford Brookes University where she taught from 1989 to 2005 both in professional studies, technology and design. She has practiced for a number of years on the design of housing, schools, hospitals and town planning.

She is best known as a designer for her Oxford Ecohouse which was the first UK building with an integrated photovoltaic roof. She is an award winning designer, teacher and author and is Co-Chair of TIA, the International Teachers in Architecture organisation and Co-Chair of the Westminster Carbon Counting Group. She began teaching at Heriot Watt in 2007 in the School of the Built Environment.

APM Student Profile: Jameela Ahmed

Having been a part of the mentoring scheme as a mentor for two years and a mentee for three, I have been able to appreciate first-hand how valuable mentoring sessions can be. These sessions, whether one-on-one or in the form of group discussions, are a great way to bounce ideas off each other outside a classroom environment and get exposed to a wider range of viewpoints and perspectives. It was very interesting for me to see through the eyes of my mentees and uncover radically different concepts and responses to the same design brief. At the same time, discovering their personal aspirations and visions for their projects led me to find different ways of expressing myself while giving advice. It pushed me to present my suggestions and opinions to them in a way that they identified with rather than sticking to one standard method of communication. I can now convey my thoughts with greater clarity, whether through sketches and drawings, in conversation or while providing explanations to questions over email.

Mentoring has affected how I view my own ideas and projects as well. Showing my previous work to the mentees has not only been a method of providing them with an overview of their upcoming project, but also an opportunity to look back at my own work. Revisiting past work at a later date has allowed me reflect more maturely on what worked and didn’t work in my projects. In helping them tackle similar difficulties, it has offered me a chance to find out which methods worked best for me and apply what I learned to my current work.

Although mentoring offers many additional advantages and opportunities for both the mentor and the mentee, at its core, I find that the scheme has always been about encouraging students to support and learn from each other as they make their way through this challenging course.

By Jameela Ahmed
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

Timothy Brittain-Catlin to speak at Gresham College

Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be presenting his latest research in a lecture at Gresham College on the evening of Tuesday 13th March. This talk will propose the theory that Edwardian domestic architecture was based on a new concept of remodelling or imitating the remodelling of old buildings, especially ones with Elizabethan or Jacobean features. This idea emerges from a study of Country Life magazine and of a series of houses from the period. The lecture suggests that three houses should enter the canon of significant early twentieth-century architecture: Kingsgate Castle, near Broadstairs in Kent; Daws Hill, in High Wycombe; and Vann, near Hambledon in Surrey.

Gresham College is one of the most prestigious academic venues in the country, and the lecture will be attended by leading architectural historians. Admission to Barnard’s Inn Hall, off High Holborn, where the lecture will take place will be on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis, with entry from 5.30pm for a 6pm, start. Further information can be found on the College’s website: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/architecture-and-the-edwardian-era

The lecture will be available to downloads or watch online after it has taken place.

MAUD Paris field trip

MA Architecture and Urban Design students take on Paris

During this term, MA Architecture and Urban Design (MAUD) students will be studying the role that the natural landscape plays as the primary infrastructure of our cities, and of Paris in particular. The field trip to Paris was intended as an initial step in discovering the underlying landscape of central Paris by walking the places and spaces where aspects of the ‘lost’ landscape are still apparent. Over the three day trip, students visited the office of a well-respected Paris architect and went on walking tours, which contextualise what the students learn in their theory and history of urbanism lectures.

The study tour started with a visit to the site of the spring term Design Module AR84. The site is set within the valley of the Bièvre river (a ‘lost’ tributary of the Seine within the 5th and 13th arrondissements in south-east of Paris), where the students are expected to design new urban interventions within this historic city and respond appropriately to both the historic riverine landscape as well as to the present-day urban context.

The second day included a visit to the office of a prominent architectural practice called ‘Arte-Charpentier’, followed by an extensive walking tour of the ‘Les Passages Couverts’ from Rue Monmartre to the Palais Royale – a link series of traffic-free arcades and a remarkable medieval legacy that escaped the massive urban renewal program by Haussmann in the 19th century. The tour included visits to the Place Des Victoires and the Palais Royale, both innovative examples of 17th century city planning, followed by a visit to the courtyard of the 18th century Louvre to see the Grande Axe (the 19th century 5km axis of architectural monuments which runs from the Louvre to La Defense in the east) and the glass pyramid by I.M. Pei which opened in 1989. The day concluded with a walking tour of Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis, two natural islands in the River Seine and the spiritual and historical centre of Paris, followed by a visit to the Centre Pompidou.

On the final day of the field trip, the group split into separate visits to the Eiffel Tower, La Defense and Ruisseau du Bac / St Deni, assembling once again to visit the exhibition at the Pavilion D’Arsenal, the Paris Centre for Architecture and Urban Planning located in the 4th arrondissement.

Student comments;

“The walking tour of the path of the old Bièvre river in Paris, was both informative for our project this semester and also a good way for us to be connected with the project.”

“We walked through the streets of Paris to see how the former rivers and tributaries shaped not only the streets of Paris but also the surrounding neighbourhoods. The information we were able to learn over the past few days will only add an invaluable layer of richness to our project.”

Outreach workshops at Community College Whitstable

As part of the Outreach programme which the Kent School of Architecture runs, we made four trips to Community College Whitstable where we introduced the subject of architecture to a class of Year 9 Art students.

In our first two sessions we discussed the principles behind architectural drawing to the students, before introducing them to their brief – to design a café with a view on the Whitstable Harbour Arm.  Working in groups of 3 to 4, the students quickly started playing with ideas by sketching them and by exploring existing precedents.  By looking at projects such as underwater hotels and roof-top gardens, the students soon realised that the possibilities of architecture went beyond what they had originally thought.

In the third session, we introduced the students to the idea of working to scale and with this in mind, tasked them with making a 1:100 scale model which would showcase their designs.  We provided them with white card, acetate, foam board and paper and the designs soon came to life which the students all seemed to really enjoy.  Although some of the students needed encouragement in their abilities to design and model-make, they all pushed through and produced a variety of exciting and unique proposals.  The model making continued into our final session, at the end of which, we asked them to present their work to the rest of the class, which they all felt confident in doing.

During our time there it was great to also talk to the students about studying architecture.  Although they were only 13 years old, they were curious about the route to becoming an architect, as well as our current MArch work.  They spoke to us about their personal experiences and interests in the field, and there were a few students who were genuinely interested in pursuing it in the future.

Overall, we were truly impressed with the students’ creativity, outcomes, and interest in the subject. We both agree that we would have enjoyed a workshop like this at their age, as neither of us had the opportunity.  We hope the students have not only learned about architecture as a potential career path, but also about group-work, the design process and confidence in their abilities and ideas.

By Monica Win and Edward Hobbs
Stage 4, MArch