MArch Unit 5 exhibition at York’s Festival of Ideas

MArch Unit 5 students will be presenting their innovative visions for the city of York at the York Festival of Ideas. The brief given for the exhibition was to; Design for Galactic Life on Earth: How can architectural intervention be used to initiate change? Each student has come up with their own proposal and these can be found on the York Festival of Ideas website.

There will also be talks from speakers including;

  • Alison Brooks, Alison Brooks Architects
  • Clare Wright, Wright & Wright Architects
  • Bob Allies, Allies and Morrison
  • Timothy Ireland , Kent School of Architecture
  • Sir Malcolm Grant, University of York

The festival is taking place on Sunday 17th June from 12pm to 6pm, admission is free and there is no need to book in advance.

The image below forms part of Stephanie Elward’s scheme – Reading Rooms for Rowntree’s Library for Precious Books.

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MAAV Students head to the Fete des Lumieres in Lyon

MA Architectural Visualisation (MAAV) students returned to Lyon following the successful inaugural trip in 2016. The study tour to Lyon specifically complements two modules; AR822 Virtual Cities and AR846 Architectural Photography. The schedule was designed to take advantage of the rich architecture during the daytime, whilst allowing students to explore the illuminations during the night.

The Lumières festival was varied this year, and differed in style and range from the previous year. Highlights of the festival included an animation focused on the history of film and cinema in the Place des Terreaux, many of the references to which, the students could understand from their work in AR821 Film & Architecture.

This year, the trip to Lyon was incredibly important, providing an opportunity for the students to see first-hand the ways in which buildings can be animated through projection mapping. The research was directly fed into their own projection work for AR822 Virtual Cities at the recent Cheriton Light Festival in February. This module allows the students to bridge the boundaries between architectures; the actual and the virtual. The quality of their work was, without doubt, aided by the visit to France.

MAAV student feedback;
“The Lyon trip was a great experience! It developed my technique of finding interesting photographic subjects. As we toured the sites, we came across a lot of buildings that would perhaps be deemed unattractive, but their geometry made for some of the best photographs. It definitely helped me redefine my photographic eye. The Light show was incredibly inspiring and I have not experienced anything like it; I was so inspired by our trip, I am making efforts to recreate something for my local community, whom many may not be able to get the opportunity to experience what I had”
“…A very positive and useful trip toward my technical knowledge in projection mapping, where we had the chance to see real projects which were produced by known professional artists and companies. That experience helped me a lot to know what the real impact of projection mapping on people is, what works well and what is not”
“…This trip helped me a lot to strengthen my relationship with my colleagues, it’s made me feel like I have real friends on my course, which I need as an international student…”

Should architecture schools favour a practical knowledge over a theoretical one?

The most recent AJ has revealed some interesting figures this week concerning the contradictory mindsets of students and employers when it comes to the need for certain practical skills. Recent surveys have found that only one third of architecture students deem hand drawing to be an important skill in the workplace, compared to 44 percent of employers. While a seven year architectural course does include a mandatory two years in industry, many employers argue that there are many topics not covered throughout this education which are fundamental to the success of a firm in industry. These include topics such as knowledge of the law, working in multi-disciplinary teams and a mature understanding of cost management.

With tuition fees this high, a broad knowledge of the construction industry is therefore expected of graduate students, but it would seem that many universities are favouring a theoretical knowledge over practical ability. But is this necessarily a bad thing?

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My response to these statistics is that architecture school is not and never will be like industry practice, and for good reason. It is a chance to explore ideas and hypothesise about solutions to future concerns without having the burden of politics, costs and laws to restrict you. If universities were to only teach practical ability and neglect theoretical knowledge, the architectural degree would be at risk of losing the one thing which draws many students towards it, that freedom to explore in an environment which encourages conceptual, broad, artistic ideas. Students may not be prepared for day to day working in an office, but they are well equipped and in the right mindset to question societal conventions and inspire innovation, which is arguably more significant to the long term success of a practice.

Each architectural school is different, some focusing more on construction and practical applications of design, and others taking a more theoretical approach. How is it then, that arguably the most highly sought after graduates come from the more theoretically minded schools such as the Bartlett and the Architects Association? This clearly shows that yes, employers do want a graduate who will settle into day to day office life quickly, but more so than this, they want a person who will be asset to their business in the long run and help the business’s success through innovation.

In the end of the day, at the heart of the architectural profession is creativity which comes from the exploration of theoretical problem solving. A knowledge of the law, which only 15 percent of part 3 students viewed to be important compared to 44 percent of employers, can be learnt on the job when working in industry; whereas creativity and a theoretical outlook can easily be clouded by numbers and politics. Therefore is it not far better to stimulate theoretical thinking early on in an effort to encourage its transfer into the construction industry?

If theoretical knowledge is lost, the architecture of today would revolve even more so around politics, costs and laws, meaning we might all end up living in tiny square rooms in enormous concrete tower blocks. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to live in an architecture students vision of a world.

By Edward Powe – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture