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