Stage 2 student to take part in Critical Concrete Summer School

Stage 2 student from the BA (Hons) Architecture course, Jake Obichere, has been awarded a place at Critical Concrete’s Summer School in Porto, Portugal for three weeks commencing on the 30th July 2018. Jake will be participating in, “The Practice and Theory of Sustainable & Social Architecture”.

“I will be joined with students from various parts of the world, architects, the community, social workers, designers and engineers to design and refurbish a social type housing for a family in the neighbourhood. My interests in architecture are in the sustainable and social aspects of design, and the integration of traditional and modern techniques to creatively shape places.

To a certain extent, my previous credentials have been evidence of my growth in the field of architecture and has encouraged me to participate in this summer school. This year, I was the winner of Gravett Award, a prestigious competition sponsored by CPRE, Kent’s Historic Buildings Committee. In the previous academic year, I was awarded a prize for the Best Design Sketchbook in Stage 2 by HMY Architects, and following on from this, I was given the opportunity to engage in valuable work experience with Corstorphine + Wright Architects, who were the main sponsors of the KSA End of Year Show 2018. Overall, the summer school will enable me to learn a different aspect of architecture, and share the skills that I will gain, including knowledge and techniques, with others,” states Jake Obichere, Stage 2.

For further information about the Summer School, please see here: https://criticalconcrete.com/summer-camp/programme

APM Student Profile: Pinda Atwal

Helping others succeed is something that greatly interests me. Architecture lends itself to a very social environment where the studio culture allows everyone to help one another. Academic Peer Mentoring has allowed me to engage with students from different year groups and share my knowledge of what I have learnt within my degree. Arranging weekly discussions is something that is vital to track my mentees progress, however I am always willing to help whether I am in the studio or having to arrange a time and a place for discussion.

Mentoring has helped me understand that it is possible to learn from students of all years and to keep seeking knowledge. Since completing the extracurricular module Student Mentoring at University I have been able to understand the requirements of mentoring and put them to practice with my mentee. Topics addressed range from equality and diversity, learning styles to even the characteristics required from a mentor.

Overall the peer mentoring scheme and module have helped me understand and experience situations that can also be applied to future careers and real life situations outside of university.

By Pinda Atwal
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

APM Student Profile: Samantha Onyemenam

To me, being a mentor was an opportunity to give back to others by using my experiences and the things I learnt to motivate and help others through their time in the Kent School of Architecture.

I currently have one mentee, in the first year, who I have meetings with fortnightly. Similar to when I was in her position, she initially was a bit confused about what skills she needed to possess, what she needed to do to achieve brief requirements and how to prepare for crits. This prompted me to think about my time in first year: what I wish I knew, what I know now, what I wish I had done, the most effective ways I found to prepare for crits and seminar presentations and how those can help my mentee.

Fortnightly, we begin our meetings by going over the feedback from my mentee’s tutor and brainstorming ways that the feedback can enhance her design while considering ideas inspired by a wider range of precedents. Afterwards, we discuss aspects which my mentee is unsure about, such as particular terminology or ways she could effectively represent some of her ideas.

I believe that the mentoring scheme has not only been of benefit to my mentee, but also of benefit to me as it causes me to reflect on what I know, improve on my communication skills and be inspired by both old and new precedents, concepts and ideas that can enrich my designs. I will recommend this scheme to anyone who is considering being involved in it and I would be pleased to continue participating in it next year.

By Samantha Onyemenam
Stage 2, BA (Hons) Architecture

APM Student Profile: Giorgia Golzio

I am both a mentor and mentee, thus experiencing both sides to the Academic Peer Mentoring (APM) programme. I did not have a mentor in first year, however, I had heard a lot of positives about having one. This is what motivated me to become a mentor myself, as I knew how beneficial it could be for mentees, especially first year students who are completely new to the course. My experience as a mentee this year has also been extremely useful, so I would obviously want to be able to help someone else in the same way.

Mentor meetings are mainly a great opportunity to discuss anything you were not sure of or did not mention during design tutorials. Receiving multiple opinions is fundamental in Architecture as it offers you different angles in solving a design problem, and in turn broadening your creative mind. Mentors are different to design tutors as they share the struggle of the same or similar projects, meaning mentors have more of an insight into the demands of the course due to this prior first-hand experience. They also know the tutors much better than younger years and exactly what they are looking for in your designs.

I mentor four students in first year and I meet with them once a week for about an hour to discuss anything they need guidance with. An example of this could be how to develop floor plans or concepts. It is always interesting to see what ideas people in the year below you will come up with for the same projects you once did before as it opens your mind to ways of thinking that are different to your own, further improving the skill to be able to tackle design problems in multiple ways. Being a mentor is therefore great exercise for your own mind as you are constantly practicing and even developing your architectural skills.

The mentoring programme is also a great social opportunity. A feature that I love about the Kent School of Architecture is that the years all tend to mix and, as a result, I have made many friendships that I would not have anticipated if it were not for the environment at the school. The social aspect of APM also means you can work with people from the other years and exchange ideas or simply find inspiration out of conversations! This is so motivating as you are always surrounded by ideas bouncing back and forth, making the whole experience of the course much more engaging as you can bond with others about interests you share, in this case Architecture.

Whether you are a mentor or a mentee you can always benefit from APM, as it enhances your creative and social skills, both essential in the world of architecture for not only in terms of studies but also in the workplace itself.

By Giorgia Golzio
Stage 2, BA (Hons) Architecture

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

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

Academic Peer Mentor Student Profile: Mary Villaluz

I was first introduced to the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme in my first year at the Kent School of Architecture, and was assigned a third year student to be my mentor. As a first year student, new to the school, my mentor helped me gain confidence in design by going through his own techniques and by talking to me about his own experiences as a student.

After learning so much from my mentor in my first year, I then decided to pass on what I had learned to the next year’s intake, so I applied to become a mentor myself. As a mentor, I would arrange to meet up with my mentees to discuss any issues and problems they would have regarding the course. The mentee-mentor relationship works well as mentors can advise and guide the lower years on their projects since they studied the modules previously.

Mentors are on hand to offer assistance throughout the entire design process from initial conception to final presentation and help with project management techniques like time management, computer program literacy and presentation techniques. Being able to explain the whole project and design to an external person not involved in the module can be very helpful to bounce ideas off and to see the project and design with a fresh set of eyes which can lead to the discovery of a flaw in their design or areas of potential improvement.

Being both a ‘mentee’ and a ‘mentor’ for the past two years has allowed me to build connections in the studio with students from years above and below, as well as enabling me to improve my own critical analysis skills which I subsequently use on my own designs to further improve them.

The mentoring program is an invaluable resource that shouldn’t be underestimated by students in all years and should be fully utilised as a resource that the Kent School of Architecture offers.

Mary Villaluz
Stage 3, BA (Hons) Architecture

PhD Seminar: Ben Tosland

Today’s PhD Seminar will be hosted by PhD student Ben Tosland entitled, ‘Regional Development: The relationship of Western designed architecture with geopolitics in the Persian Gulf, 1925 – 1990’.

The focus of this presentation will largely be on the methodologies of proving the intrinsic link between architecture and geopolitics within the years 1925-1990 in the Persian Gulf. These events have caused a development in architectural aesthetic towards a more refined ‘critically regional’ style representative of the Persian Gulf, rather than individual nation states or global hegemony as is the historiography might suggest. The presentation shall show a brief outline of the thesis depicting the overarching structure covering important projects by several globally renowned architects as well as depicting projects that are either underappreciated, under-researched or unknown. Research for this presentation carried out in libraries and archives in the United Kingdom and across Europe utilises primary material from the offices of architects and planners coupled with contemporary journal articles causing numerous methodological issues. The aim of this presentation is to tackle these issues of method and selection criteria to ensure the overall argument of the thesis is water-tight while still contributing original thought and insight to a variety of case studies.

Ben has been a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Architecture since September 2016. He has an Undergraduate degree from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in History (2014) and a Master’s degree in Conservation and Regeneration from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture (2015). He is a recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship at the University of Kent enabling him to research and study for his PhD. Ben works externally as a consultant for historic buildings, aiding planning applications and writing Conservation Area Appraisals. He is an affiliate member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), a member of the Twentieth Century Society and has worked with the SPAB.

Erlend C. L. Birkeland Student Profile

 

 

 

 

 

Full name: Erlend C. L. Birkeland
Degree subject and level: Architecture BA, undergraduate stage 1
Home country/Nationality: Norway/Norwegian

1. Can you give us a bit of background to why you chose a UK qualification (E.g. national/global reach, career prospects, skills and experience gained…)
I chose to study in the UK partly because I wanted an education that was a bit different from the Norwegian architectural courses. In that way, I am hoping to bring some other perspectives and views on the subject when I begin practising as an architect in Norway.

2. What do you find most inspiring about your degree and institution?
The most inspiring thing about my degree is the fact that we get time and space to test different ideas and develop ourselves whilst learning a lot about a wide range of topics. That is the fantastic thing about architecture: when learning it, you can’t simply learn how a wall should be built or why structures don’t fall down. You have to learn a bit about history, psychology, sociology, art, composition, physics – and at Kent School of Architecture and I feel we get the opportunity to do that.

3. How did your perception of your subject change as a result of your course and studies? (E.g. What did you think of ‘design’ before and what do you think now?)
Before I began at Kent, I thought architecture was quite a bit more technical and full of memorising details than what it actually is. Yes, you have to understand quite a bit about how a building stands up, but you will learn that naturally as the course proceeds. The hard bit is to come up with the design you like.

4. What advice would you give students hoping to apply to your degree/course?
If you choose architecture, you have to be really interested in it. This isn’t a subject you study at the university a bit each day before you go home and have the rest of the evening off. The design process will be your life, so put some effort into learning good and effective time management.

5. Is there a memory of a trip, a workshop, a course or a speech that you attended that really stands out in your memory? Why?
In December, after all the work for the first semester has been finished, the year 1 students at Kent go to Barcelona to sketch and have a great time off and become even better friends. Working in the studio is the way we mostly make friends on this course, which is fantastic. Then after all the hard work at the end of our final project, we go into the beautiful city of Barcelona together with the enthusiastic teachers and that binds us together even more. It’s a wonderful dynamic.

6. What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to become an architect developing public buildings and public spaces for others to enjoy. To create spaces where people can meet each other and create memorable moments is what I really want to do.