The Kent School of Architecture and Planning’s courses instill artistic and architectural approaches from day one, equipping students with the outlook required to develop as engaging and skilful designers. This teaching ethos is embodied in the Mind the Gap project, which takes a two-pronged approach to simultaneously develop creativity and specialist skills.
“I encourage students to enter into a running dialogue with space, time, materials and each other, and to see where it takes them.”
In this project, first year students work in small teams to create temporary structures in the Marlowe foyer within a limited time. Each team identifies and responds to a specific site and its properties to work with the building – drawing attention to areas and features which are normally overlooked.
Not only does the project require students to employ crucial architectural skills by assessing sites based on light, material and form, but it also encourages students to embrace both making and drawing as ways of thinking. Describing his approach, module convener Tim Meacham says: “working closely with workshop staff, I encourage students not to think in terms of a finished outcome or function, but rather enter into a running dialogue with the space, time, materials, and each other, and see where it takes them – with an emphasis on experiment and fun.”
By taking this joint approach, students can put into practice skills in site analysis and visualisation together with improvisational and creative problem-solving abilities – a crucial combination in industry, another situation which this project emulates. Tim continues: “they develop valuable communication and negotiation skills – the project mirrors industry practice where teams of designers are often assembled at short notice to complete tasks to a tight deadline.”
As part of the School’s sustainability ethos, students work with their own collected materials – from a personal materials library that they each build during the year, encouraging and helping them to see the potential of recycled items to realise and communicate ideas.
The structures produced for this project are now on display in gaps, crevices and unnoticed areas in the foyer of the Marlowe building, free to be discovered by everybody.