Former PhD student, Itab Shuayb creates campaign for inclusive communities during Covid-19

Former Kent School of Architecture and Planning PhD student, Itab Shuayb, creates inclusive campaign with cohort of architecture students at the American University of Beirut as part of their final project in her Inclusive Design course, with the collaboration of the Disability Hub at the Centre for Lebanese Studies, LAU, in Lebanon.

 

Itab writes, “Inclusive design is a human-centered approach that acknowledges the rights of all people regardless of age, gender, ability, religion, and ethnicity to participate and contribute to their society. This campaign sheds light on the main issues and barriers that diverse people have encountered during the crisis of Covid-19. Five videos have been designed inclusively with subtitles in in English Language, audio description, and graphic animations that convey the slogan, If the Corona Pandemic does not exclude anyone, so why does social justice not include us all.”

Watch the campaign videos over on the Centre for Lebanese Studies YouTube channel.

Dr Manolo Guerci discusses KSAP’s adaptability during Covid-19

Senior Lecturer, Dr Manolo Guerci, shares his thoughts and observations with Press and Public Relations Officer, Olivia Miller, on ‘how teaching and learning within the Kent School of Architecture and Planning has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.’

BA year coordinators: Rebecca Hobbs (Stage 1), Felicity Atekpe (Stage 2), and Dr Ambrose Gillick (Stage 3), provided key insight and information, as well as Michael Richards, MArch Programme Director, who was also part of a number of discussions which led to this contribution, and indeed trialled and implemented with Dr Guerci quite a lot of what is highlighted in the full Q&A which you can read the full Q&A online now.

Statement for all new Stage One BA (Hons) Architecture students

KSAP BA (Hons) Architecture Stage One, 2020-2021

Your University

The University of Kent is looking forward to welcoming its new intake of undergraduates to its campus this September. ‘Welcome Week’ (Freshers Week, more traditionally) begins on Monday 21st September, with your academic programmes starting one week later, on Monday 28th September.

Academic programme

The BA (Hons) Architecture programme has been running at Kent for fifteen years. It is fully validated by the RIBA, and has continued prescription from the Architects Registration Board.

Stage One – the first year of the programme – is a carefully structured educational experience that mixes teaching in the culture of architecture – its history and theory – with architectural technology and environment studies – how buildings work – with design exercises that push your creativity. It is taught by discrete ‘modules’, study units run by different tutors, some full-time academics in the School and other visiting tutors who spend most of their time in architectural practice outside the University. There are three modules per term (autumn and spring), in culture, technology and environment, and design.

Academic delivery

How do we teach the programme, especially in these uncertain times of great public health concern?

The health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff are our top priority, with a blend of teaching that seeks to maintain the quality of the teaching, learning and experience of students whether online or on campus.

Culture

The culture modules each have a weekly hour-long lecture. These will be recorded and made available online, through Moodle, our University online learning environment, and in advance of any related seminars or tutorials. In addition to the weekly lecture there are weekly seminars, where you will undertake supervised assignments related to the module. You will have an allocated seminar with your tutor in a safely-distanced seminar room, studio or workshop. There will also be online seminars and tutorials should you not be able to attend for face-to-face meetings, via Microsoft Teams. We have been working successfully with Teams since lockdown began, in March of this year, and are fully conversant with how it works. You can access Teams using any computer with internet access (including from other countries) – your own laptop, or any University computer anywhere on campus.

Technology & Environment

These modules are structured in exactly the same way as the culture teaching, with their mix of online lectures and face-to-face seminars, either on campus – safely distanced – or online. At KSAP you will benefit from our large, open-plan studios, where social distancing has already been organised. Since all lectures are online, we may use the large lecture theatres, with capacities of some 150 seats, to run safely distanced group activities, such as our ‘bricks-on-sticks’ workshops in the autumn term where you will learn structural principles in a lively, hands-on workshop setting.

Design

The teaching of design has been more difficult to rethink, in these challenging times. But once again, our large studios have allowed us to lay them out in a safely-distanced manner that still allows for face-to-face teaching – the demonstration of drawing, modelling and sketching techniques that you need to learn in order to develop your design skills. We will break down the tutor groups into smaller subgroups of three or four students, conducive to small group discussions and demonstrations of technique. From 9am until 5pm on these ‘studio’ days – Monday and Tuesday, for your Stage One students – the studio will be exclusively reserved for these small-group encounters. At all other times, depending on demand, you will be able to book a space in the studio and use its equipment – standing drawing boards with parallel motions, table-top drawing boards, pinboard-topped tables for simple model making etc, etc – for your own, safely-distanced use, subject to availability and when not being used for timetabled teaching for other year-groups. As with all other modules, there is a weekly Design lecture which you will access digitally. Should social distancing measures be lifted, we hope to be able to re-open studios for 24-hour access.

Folio

A distinctive feature of the Stage One BA at Kent is its year-long module, Folio. Here you will learn the principles of architectural representation – drawing, essentially – through the weekly digital lecture, and then split up into subgroups, similar to how design is taught, as intimately as feasible given current distancing guidelines. You’ll start in the autumn term with learning the techniques and practice of orthographic drawing – absolutely essential requirements for the culture and practice of architecture, and a real strength at Kent – interleaved with ‘free’ drawing and painting exercises. Here, the generally fine autumn weather will enable our staff to take you out of the building in safe groups on campus and in Canterbury, to undertake site drawing exercises. In the spring term the emphasis shifts to Digital Folio, where most of the classes are being planned to be delivered digitally.

Your own practice exercises you will do either on your own laptop or computer, or by using the School’s array of computers. The studio computers have i7 processors with 16GB RAM and Nvidia GTX video cards, they are capable of running the latest software from Adobe, Autodesk and many others used on the course. A range of this software is also available to install on your personal device to enable you to continue your studies outside of the studio. The Welcome Pack that we’ll be sending out in late August will outline details of drawing equipment and computer specifications, compatible with the School’s provision.

Field trips

The annual Stage One overseas field trip has been a highlights of the year. For obvious reasons we are unable to plan for this in the current climate. Instead, we will offer UK visits (in Kent, to London and elsewhere), in smaller groups, and properly health & safety-assessed. The advantage here will be that you will be guided to notable buildings and cities in small, manageable groups. A by-product will also be that these visits will be considerably cheaper than expensive overseas trips!

Social life

The University and the Students Union is developing plans for a safe social life, on and off campus. Clearly, the mass gatherings that have been the hallmark of student social life cannot take place in their former formats. However, Kent is blessed with a large, airy and low-density campus, and the onus will be on the myriad student clubs and societies to provide safely distanced events. Our own KASA – the Kent Architecture Student Association – is organising its term-time events, including the weekly guest lectures (all online this year, for obvious reasons), but also a serious of small-scale social and communal meetings.

FAQs

The University has produced answers to these frequently asked questions. Do please follow the link!

Professor Gerald Adler, Head of School and Rebecca Hobbs, Stage 1 Coordinator, BA (Hons) Architecture
Kent School of Architecture and Planning

Professor of Planning, Samer Bagaeen, contributes to Localis’ C19 Housing Recovery Essay Collection

Professor of Planning, and MA Urban Planning and Resilience programme director, Samer Bagaeen, has written an essay titled, ‘Our participatory future’ in response to the theme, ‘The role of housing in supporting the most vulnerable in society’ for the Localis essay collection titled, ‘Building for renewal: Kickstarting the C19 housing recovery‘.

The collection, “encompasses how housing policy and the planning system could be directed to promoting opportunity and prosperity, building sustainable communities as well as supporting lives and engaging with society during the recovery.” It also seeks to answer the question, “What measures can be put in place to create an environment conducive to growth, enabling the housebuilding industry to get back to work safely and deliver the Government’s target of one million new homes by 2025?”

Professor Samer Bagaeen writes, “These are interesting times: people keeping at least two metres form each other; a substantial number of schools closed; all public gatherings cancelled; the UK Government and those around the world putting together ever-increasing stimulus packages; landlords not collecting rent; the homeless being told to stay put in hotels free of charge; and workers furloughed on full pay in some cases.

In more than one city, in England, local authorities went on the hunt for innovative solutions to seek ideas from their residents about the path for a green future. This was before the increasingly louder and louder calls for a green future in the post COVID19 world began to take hold. With pollution in some cities halving on account of the lockdown – lower vehicle emissions as people ditch their car, attention has also shifted to the carbon emissions caused by our built environment and what can be done to reduce these.

As a forum for sharing ideas, citizens’ climate assemblies have gained traction in cities like Oxford and Brighton and Hove. These assemblies bring together a small number of residents (50 in the case of Brighton and Hove), randomly selected to reflect local demographics, alongside a panel of advisors to help shape how a city could address the climate crisis and prioritise actions to take forward.”

Read more, and download the full essay collection here.

Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti interviewed by TRT World on life of Vittorio Gregotti

Professor of Architecture and Urban Regeneration, Gordana Fontana-Giusti, was recently interviewed for a second time by Turkish television channel, TRT World as part of their flagship arts and culture programme, ‘Showcase’ on 4 May.

The episode titled, ‘Obituaries during the pandemic’ invited Professor Fontana-Giusti to discuss the life and work of renowned Italian architect and urban designer, Vittorio Gregotti, who sadly passed away of Covid-19 on 15 March in Milan. The interview discusses Vittorio Gregotti’s role in establishing architecture as a key art form and his life’s work including his work on industrialisation and the organisation of the Milan Triennale in the 1960s.

Watch the full interview online now. Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti’s segment begins at 7m 50s.

COVID-19 Pandemic: A Plea for Pro-Active Urban Planning by Urban Planner, John Letherland

Today we are living in an unprecedented state of uncertainty, in the midst of a viral attack on humankind that is having profound effect on our health and our urban way of life. While it may be the most immediately severe, the COVID-19 pandemic is the not the only crisis causing us to question the way we coexist and our relationship with the world, affected as we are by climate change and the erosion of our eco-system, conflict, religious persecution, displacement of communities and the ever-rising gap between the rich and poor.

As an urban species, growth and quality of human habitat are some of the biggest issues we face today. In the context of the largest wave of urbanisation in human history, for the first time more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Sadly, this isn’t the first global pandemic we have had to face, and probably not the last; it is the proximity within which we live our lives that is one of the main reasons why the virus has been so successful in taking hold.

Cities have played a critical part in human development for almost 10,000 years and they continue to grow in importance as the primary form of human habitation. By 2050, the UN predicts there will be 9 billion humans and that two thirds will live in cities. As the global population continues to grow unabated, the urgent need for space and resources places us in competition with our environment as well as our fellow humans. Paradoxically, it is generally accepted that high-density living is the most efficient way for people to live with lowest carbon footprint, where infrastructure and transport networks can be effective and run efficiently.

Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies, where infectious epidemic diseases (such as smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera, etc) have been the major cause of death. But, when we take as an example the violent outbreak of cholera in London in 1854 and the waves of bubonic plague that hit London in 17th century (killing an estimated 100,000 people), it is clear that the rapid spread of disease was symptomatic of a wider malaise – massive unplanned growth in population that the infrastructure couldn’t cope with.

‘…London in 1854 was a Victorian metropolis trying to make do with an Elizabethan public infrastructure.’

– Steven Johnson: The Ghost Map

The current COVID-19 pandemic must therefore be seen in a broader historical context and recognised as a symptom, not the cause, of a wider global problem – a huge explosion of growth in our urban population that, like the earlier lessons in time, has not been adequately learned and planned for. It is easy to be wise after the event, but contagious diseases are more predictable in our high-density urban centres, particularly in the context of expanding urban populations. Surviving and recovering well from pandemics like COVID-19 will therefore depend upon creating healthier cities. So, is it possible to turn this crisis into an opportunity for good urban place-making and the benefits this can bring us?

Now, more than ever, is perhaps the moment to think about what can be done to make our cities healthier. Cities are irrational organisms with a unique character and life of their own; like any organism they need to be fed and nurtured, their waste removed and their arteries kept clear to enable them to evolve and grow healthily. This includes providing them with breathing spaces – the parks, gardens and green spaces – where people can relax in open space, enjoy nature, breathe fresh air and exercise within the context of social distancing.

Large urban populations mean that fewer people have access to open space and nature, and cities like London, New York and Madrid have suffered more than most from the COVID-19 infection. However, living in high densities does not automatically equate to living in insanitary or under-privileged conditions. Evidence suggests that some of the highest density boroughs in London, for example, are also those in which residents enjoy the best health and the highest life expectancy. There is a direct correlation between these areas and the location of some of London’s largest and most treasured open green spaces. After the crisis has abated, there will be many things we need to do to set things straight; perhaps amongst these we could make our cities of tomorrow more liveable and resilient by making them greener and healthier.

This may sound like a solution more suited to the planning of new cities, but history shows us that we can adapt and retrofit our existing cities successfully, often on a grand scale. As Jack Shenker points out in his recent Guardian article of 26 March 2020 (Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life), the splendour of the Victoria embankment resulted directly from the construction of Joseph Bazalgette’s innovative sewerage system in direct response to the 1850’s cholera outbreak in London. Around the same time, Louis Napoleon and Baron Haussmann were in the process of transforming the congested and disease-infested inner-city slums of Paris into a network of beaux-arts style, tree-lined boulevards that would ease congestion, improve living standards, generate prosperity, eradicate cholera and in due course create a city that continues to captivate the world.

In the UK, London has its unique network of Royal Parks, green spaces and garden squares, and urban expansion in the Georgian and Victorian eras was planned around them. As a direct descendent of this tradition, the city has made a commitment to transform itself into the world’s first city-based ‘National Park City’ – aimed at coordinating and linking existing green spaces to make the city’s greener, healthier and wilder outdoor space more publicly accessible.

Similarly, Boston in the US benefits from the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, who built an entire park system for the city in the 1870’s known as the ‘Emerald Necklace’. This investment in green infrastructure is a wonderful seven-mile-long network of parks, meadows, marshlands, and pathways that winds through the city and provides a sanctuary from the clamour and grit of urban life. Boston continues to lead the world in city planning with its more recentResilient Harbour Project’, a series of elevated green landscapes, pathways and protective parks along its 47-mile low-lying shoreline to better protect the area from flooding and increase public access to the waterfront.

Other global cities are also leading the way in investment in ‘green infrastructure’, many conceived in response to the climate crisis and yet all providing inspiration for how to make our cities more liveable, resilient and healthy in the context of the current pandemic. China is designing 16 ‘Sponge Cities’; areas piloting ecologically-friendly alternatives to traditional flood defences. Lush vegetation is being planted to bring down the temperature, and large green open spaces created with permeable pavements, rain gardens, grass swales, artificial ponds and wetlands to absorb rising flood waters.

New York was widely applauded for the transformation of an elevated rail viaduct on the west side of Manhattan into the ‘High Line’, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park that took its inspiration from the earlier ‘Promenade Plantée’ in Paris. Now a more ambitious project is planned, called the ‘Dryline’: 10 miles of flood defences along the shoreline will be provided by acres of green space containing protective berms and planting, walkways, promenades and bike paths to protect the city from hurricanes.

In contrast, organising cities like Paris on a smaller scale can also be a demonstration of proactive and big picture thinking. Mayor Anne Hidalgo is proposing to phase out vehicles and to reinvent the city centre as a ‘15-Minute City’ or ‘La Ville du Quart d’Heure’. The aim is to offer Parisians what they need, on or near their doorstep, to ensure an ‘ecological transformation’ and to reinforce the capital as a collection of characterful neighbourhoods or ‘Urban Villages’. This, she hopes, will decrease the need for travel, reducing pollution and stress in the process and create socially and economically mixed districts to improve the overall quality of urban life for residents and visitors.

It would be naïve to imagine that we can eradicate all disease but also inappropriate to think that urban life is doomed as a result. Cities will continue to hold the key to the entire world’s future as centres of civilised culture and expression, and as a vital part of the solution to the climate and health. However, the current pandemic is highly likely to require the further reshaping of our cities, and rightly so as we continue to learn from it.

The role of today’s architects and urbanists in pro-active urban planning is therefore more important than ever, if we are to rise to the challenge of continuing to thrive in close proximity to each other in dense urban populations into the future.

By John Letherland
Urban Planner and Master Planner
Programme Director: MA Architecture and Urban Design

Applying to MArch? Professional experience requirement waived for entry in 2020

Kent School of Architecture and Planning’s MArch architecture programme is validated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The award is also prescribed by the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB) as giving exemption from Part 2 of their professional examinations. Typically, we ask for applicants to have a minimum of six months’ experience in professional practice prior to starting the course.

However, in light of the current economic situation, the condition of six months’ experience in professional practice prior to starting the course will be waived for entry in 2020. Students admitted to the programme without the usual year-out experience may intermit their studies between the two years of the March programme to gain practical experience. However, this will not be mandatory.

If you currently finishing an undergraduate degree and applying without any year-out practical experience, your application can only be made once you know the outcome of your degree.

If you have any queries about the application process or what is required, please email ksapadmissions@kent.ac.uk.

Kevin Smith and Julien Soosaipillai discuss collaborative process of creating PPE in fight against Covid-19

Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP), along with colleagues from School of Computing and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA), have collaborated to design and supply 300 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) for East Kent’s largest hospice charity, Pilgrims Hospice.

KSAP’s Workshop Manager, Kevin Smith, along with 3D CAD Technician, Julien Soosaipillai worked on the project from inception. They documented the pitfalls and progress of the project to date, “We experimented with several designs which were sent to NHS facilities; they preferred the PRUSA 3D V3 printed frame design which is designed to hold a clear plastic screen, bent around the head secured on a radial arrangement of forward-facing location studs. These are sized to just fit through a standard paper hole-punch hole, the idea being that anyone with a hole-punch could make the clear plastic shield front screen.

The original design called for 0.5mm PETG but this is in very short supply due to the unprecedented global demand. We experimented with the 1mm PETG we use for laser cutting but found it to be too stiff; i.e. it kept popping off the frame. PETG is preferred as it is fairly tough and reasonably resistant to solvents (often used for machine guards etc.).

We wanted the shields to be as sterile as possible. The 3D parts can withstand being soaked in Isopropanol to achieve this, so the screens needed to be similarly treatable. We also needed something that was available in paper sizes in case a hole-punch was to be used and preferably available in easily accessible large numbers. We had a stock of 0.24mm PVC A4 Binder covers and experimented with these. Although unable to withstand any significant heat they proved to be completely safe with Isopropanol so we cut a few samples and sent them to a local GP practice and the Pilgrims Hospice for trials. The feedback was good but said they would prefer a more wrapped around design.


3D CAD Technician, Julien Soosaipillai, redesigned the frame using Fusion 360, pulling the side arms in whilst retaining the hole-spacing. The modified sets were duly dispatched and approved. The University of Kent’s Design and Print Centre made 2000 PVC sheets available and the Schools of Engineering and Digital Arts and Computing supplemented our dwindling supplies of filament with everything that they had.

We have now set up a 3D printing Hub in the Digital Crit space using all the KSAP printers together with those from EDA, The School of Computing and School of Physical Sciences. Currently we are running eight Ultimakers, along with four Prusa printers, all printing a mixture of PLA and PETG.  Jigs were duly designed to drill and trim 100 screens at a time and a rotary winder is used to wind on elastic at a predetermined length, speeding up the cutting.”


The visors are supplied flat packed, each pack consists of 10 frames, 10 screens, and 10 lengths of elastic with some printed instructions. Kevin Smith, Workshop Manager, estimates that the team can make and pack 280 – 300 visors per day. Kent Innovation and Enterprise has been co-ordinating enquiries from the start and are currently arranging funding to order more materials to maximise production.

Professor Samer Bagaeen discusses, ‘Covid-19: Is this the new normal?’

Kent School of Architecture and Planning’s Professor of Planning, Samer Bagaeen, recently discussed current global challenges, including Covid-19, in relation to urban planning and resilience as part of our new mini-lecture series which can be found on YouTube.

Professor Bagaeen, programme director for MA Urban Planning and Resilience, has also written an article titled, ‘Covid-19: Is this the new normal for the urbanised world?‘ for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). In this piece, Professor Bagaeen discusses the growth of the pandemic and the impact this is having on the built environment and the economy.