Scholarships available for new MSc Bio Digital Architecture

The Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) are excited to announce the availability of four scholarships for students wishing to study the new MSc Bio Digital Architecture course.

The Bio Digital Architecture Outstanding Student Award is funded by the Kent School of Architecture and Planning for students starting full time on the course in September 2019. The award consists of a 50% fee waiver at the 2019/20 full time Home/EU/Overseas rate.

This new master’s programme will teach you how to think about architecture experimentally. You will study computational design methods, and new modes of simulation and production, which will be complemented with contemporary scientific ideas from the life sciences. Thinking interdisciplinarily, you will learn to apply contemporary architecture and scientific ideas, to think about space and form generatively to create innovative and exciting architectural scenarios.

Please visit the KSAP website to find out more about the Bio Digital Architecture programme and information on how to apply.

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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…”

KASA Open Lecture: Gilles Retsin

KASA is delighted to announce an upcoming open lecture by Gilles Retsin, from Gilles Retsin Architecture. This event will kick off the School’s Open Lecture series in the new year on Tuesday 16th January at 18.00 in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.

Gilles Retsin is the recent winner of the 2017 Tallinn Architecture Biennale TAB Installation Programme competition and directs a research cluster at UCL / the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Gilles Retsin Architecture is a London based architecture and design practice which is interested in the impact of computation on the core principles of architecture. The lecture will be entitled ‘Discrete Architecture’ and explores themes about digital architecture of the future.

 

Urban landscape

Kick-off of the largest externally funded project the School has witnessed

The School’s CASE Centre has been awarded major funding to carry out fundamental experimental research “Urban albedo computation in high latitude locations: An experimental approach”. A better understanding of urban albedo will provide a powerful method to help mitigate the effects of global warming by allowing more accurate computer simulation of building performance.

The £900,000 EPSRC-funded project was conceived and largely developed by Dr Giridharan Renganathan who along with the rest of the team secured support from major stakeholders, from professional bodies, to local government and industry partners.  The investigators are currently working with Kent Estates to identify a suitable site within the campus for building a large experimental model of specific areas of London.

Dr Renganathan is presenting at the London Climate Change Programme (LCCP) heat risk group meeting and UKCP18 briefings later this month.

[Feature picture by Vladimir Kudinov]

Stage 2 Form and Structure Submission

As part of their Form and Structure module, our Stage 2 students were tasked with designing a roof and its supports. The roof is to cover an area of at least 400 square meters, and within this area, there must be no internal columns or supports. The images below show some of the great final submissions from our Stage 2 students!

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Stephanie Davies

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Akmaral Khassen

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Meera Badran

In the search for sustainable solutions and partnerships amongst different communities at Kent

Last week Enactus members Yusuf Radhi and Lewis Tisdall, KSA student Luisa Pires and Emma Dimond from Estates partnered up to build the Enactus Recycled Bottled Pavillion in order to promote Enactus most recent projects on self-sustained ideas for communities. Enactus Kent is a student led organisation, where students are encouraged to create their own projects following the Enactus criterion using “entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve their livelihoods in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.” They have projects that are going on internationally you can check more about them here: http://www.enactuskent.org/

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By Luisa Pereira Pires, Stage 3

Tale of The Swan Bridge

Oluwaseyi Sobogun_Erasmus Bridge

What terrified me most was not the grand scale of you
In fact I stood in awe of you
But you blew me away, you let the winds of the oceans nearly carry me away
Oh Erasmus bridge I wish it wasn’t true
Now I’m not sure to cross you
Unaware of what was to come
I stared blindly at your elegant form
Structurally confusing, you’re not the norm
The imbalance of your struts/ties makes me question how tensed you are
Were you in equilibrium or was there an unknown pull on one side
I’m really asking how do you stand
Nonetheless you caught my eye, so I couldn’t just pass you by
I never knew this about you before
But you’re 802 metres long and 139 high
I could have travelled the shard more than twice and still hadn’t reached your length
I suppose you had to be twice that size to connect the rather huge divide
Between the north and south side
But why didn’t Van Berkel, your creator consider
That spans as long as yours, wouldn’t be kind to little tourists, mere passer by
Making a journey on the winds side
Frankly, you left us utterly exposed
Our clothes blew, our hair flews and some couldn’t even move
You let the sea throw its best gales our way and guess what?
You won. You stole the day,
It started so peacefully as your path led the way, blissfully unaware we stormed ahead
Until that moment the very ground on which I stood,
You shook, you moved
As before I was never sure of your structural capability, now honestly I fear
You’re not as stable as your cables appear
I trusted you to carry me, can you carry the self-weight of you?
That deflected shape must not have looked pleasant
If the internal forces I was feeling from inside were relevant
Did you know it was possible? That the winds of your very Rotterdam were fiery
Potentially dangerous? I doubt you do, because something about you
Your sheer construction, history and fame pronounce you never knew
I apologise for my attack of you, first time experiences are never as easy as it seems
I judged you before I knew you,
I won’t lie I’ll definitely never cross you a second time, but you’re worth the thought
Oh swan, remain elegant graceful and architecturally beautiful

By Oluwaseyi Sobogun, Stage 2

Oluwaseyi Sobogun_Erasmus Bridge 02

KSA Foundation Chair Crit

The students involved in our Foundation programme had their crits on Thursday 31st March in the KSA Digital Crit Space. Our students were asked to design and create a chair made entirely out of cardboard. There were two design clauses: students were not allowed to use glue, and the chair couldn’t be at a 90o angle. Students tackled the brief using different approaches such as folding, slotting and rolling all to produce a variety of interestingly designed chairs. It was great to see other students from the school getting involved in testing out the different chairs to see if they held their weight and tested out the comfort level. Great work from all our foundation students!

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Diary of an Architecture Student in Lesvos: Boat arrivals, fake vests and papers, Registered NGO camps vs non-registered NGO camps

Fig.1 – First boat I saw arrive. Photo by Silvia Converso
Fig. 2 – Aftermath of a boat arrival in the clothing tent

The first boat I saw arriving was a challenge for me, being the overemotional person that I am. Somehow I managed to overcome my feelings, distance myself from the situation and help in any way I could. As soon as I arrive at the camp in the morning, Jacopo tells me, ‘Grab as much clothes as you can, a boat just arrived on a beach nearby’. We then get in the car and he drives skilfully like the good Italian driver that he is. The first thing to do as a boat arrives is to get everyone changed into dry clothes and get wrapped in foil blankets to avoid pneumonia. The boat trip normally takes between 4 to 6 hours; this means you can get soaked in the cold water and you are prone to getting pneumonia. We then give food and help people to move to the bus that will take them to the main UNHCR registering camp – Moria.

After the bus left we got together with some locals and started organizing clothing and separating it between dirty and wet. Our other allies – the hot Spanish Bomberos from Proem Aid http://proemaid.org/  – were dismantling the boat after they had rescued everyone in it. The Bomberos were a group of water-specialized rescuers who came all the way from Spain to help. Their intentions were as good as their looks. I learnt later that these well intentioned young men had been arrested under the claim of human trafficking, by the Greek coast guard, as they were rescuing people from a boat at sea that was sinking. They stayed in prison for a week and even after losing most of their funds to pay for the bail, they remain active on the island.  Many of the life vests are fake. They do not prevent drowning thus immediate action is needed, especially in cases where children are involved as they cannot swim.

Fig 3. Free Market in front of UNHCR Camp

Following the arrival of the boat, Silvia, Jeremy, Chiara, Jacopo, Rik, Julie, Justine and I went for a trip around the island to visit other camps. The UNHCR camps had a clear separation between volunteers and refugees, barbed wire and fences all around the camps. Although people seemed to be helpful, there was still a sense of coldness that was not found in camps such as the lighthouse where colour and warm materials like timber took over and the only barriers one can see is that of the sea horizon and the beautiful vines. The prefabricated Ikea houses and the barbed wire made the UNHCR camps look like a concentration camp whilst the lighthouse camp reminded me of a scene from a children’s book. The free market was starting to take over as you could see vending machines and stands right in front of the UNHCR camps selling food and goods to the refugees. Gypsies were also benefiting and making good money out of the whole situation, since they were infiltrating camps in order to get food and clothes as well as selling things.

Fig 4. UNHCR vs Lighthouse Camp
Fig 5. UNHCR vs Lighthouse Camp
Fig 6. Dirty Girls Tent at LightHouse Camp

When we got to Moria we were even more shocked. Moria used to be a military base that has now turnedinto the main refugee registration camp on the island. Thanks to the work of the individual volunteers the camp had been modestly transformed with a sense of warmth, with some paintings here and there. What was incredible to see was the tents for the already-registered refugees. On average, the waiting time for registration was about 4 days. Once registered, you have to leave the camp to get yourself a ticket to go to mainland Europe on the ferry. Where would you stay between registering and getting a ticket? In the tents next to the camp in the middle of a muddy vineyard or in other camps and squatted places if you were not lucky enough to find a generous Greek family to take you in or to have enough money to get a place to stay at a hostel.

Fig 7. UNHCR Camp Moria from the outside

We enjoyed the best tea ever from the British group called Wild Lemon Team operating in the muddy field next to the tents, and talk to some of the volunteers working at Moria. I met little Abdul and his friend who saw me taking pictures and insisted I recorded their friendship. They were about 9 years old and were just wondering around the camp alone. I then asked one of the volunteers what happens to minors arriving alone at the Island to which she replies, ‘They normally stay in a special camp for minors for 3 weeks until something is sort out for them, but I never report them as I believe that the minors’ camp is awful and they are much happier staying here’.

 

Fig 8. Vineyard outside Moria UNHCR tents, Jacopo Corsini’s photo
Fig 8. Abdul and his friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other thing we noticed was that there was a special allocation of people depending on their nationality, the reason for this is still unclear to me.

Fig 9. Moria Camp map

When talking to Dr. Heather Johnson and photographer Iva Zimova about the issues behind the system for registration they both mentioned one very important thing – the system is too complicated for a newcomer to understand, and adding to this, there is a big language and communication barrier. Iva told me about a 16 year old whose uncle lives in the UK. His uncle had offered to pay for everything, his trip and his schooling but because he got denied asylum, he had to do the crossing illegally through the boats. The main aim for now is to privilege war and political refugees seeking asylum, yet a lot of new comers seek better economic and political standards. People as young as me or even younger get sent over through the financial support of their families for it is their family’s belief that this is the best option for their sons and daughters to get a better life. When the EU tightens policies for migration and registration this causes people choose illegal methods such as fake papers to get into Europe. Why are people being forced to have to make such decisions? Very often if they are not able to get registered and eventually get deported, they get arrested and put into prison back in their country of origin as the country of origin has to pay for the deportation.

Fig 10. Yamaha Fake Life Vests laying by LightHouse

No borders is a rather radical view on the whole issue but open borders is a different matter. Yes, there are borders and indeed we all belong somewhere, at some point, but given the circumstances and according to the basic human rights everyone has the right to seek asylum, no matter where they are from.

On another note, The scepticism of some citizens of Europe towards newcomers, in my opinion, is as a result of the fear of loss of identity and tradition as well as economic possibilities. Economically Europe would benefit from these hardworking people coming to produce and consume our goods and services. Like Nick Hanauer explains on his banned TED talk, “consumers create jobs, not the less taxed super rich”. Refugees and migrants are consumers; they do not steal jobs, and they promote the creation of jobs. Also the wave of refugees now arriving on the shores of Europe are those who have the money to pay for the 4000 euros per person for a boat trip. In terms of cultural loss what people do not realise is that cultural change and transformation has happened infinitely amount of times before. Take the Portuguese: there were the Celtics and the Iberians which merged into the Celt Iberians, later came the moors and to this day we have words deriving from Arabic such as Oxala (deriving from Inshallah) which literally translating means ‘hope to God’ (in Arabic) and ‘hope for something to happen’ (in Portuguese).

There is indeed a cultural clash going on but we must not show hostility towards each other and both sides must compromise in order for this to be a temporary or permanent (who knows) pacific progression of culture. A New comer will most certainly have to accept and practice the values we have for so long established in the West, the values of freedom so many of us take for granted. We also mustn’t assume freedom comes in a superficial form of cultural habits and what they integrate. Freedom relies on having the possibility to choose. In a case like this, one needs more empathy than sympathy. When moving into Germany, I realised Germans do not kiss on the cheeks when meeting someone new, and I thus learnt to shake hands instead. This does not mean I am not allowed to do this with those of same cultural background as me.

Like Gerda Taro and Robert Capa (war photographers from the 20th century), people continue to risk their lives to bring the truth to the surface. However, sadly media still spreads the fear and too many of us are foolish to let them do so. The attacks in Cologne, for instance, were used as a catalyst for the right wing to promote anti-refugee attitudes although only 3 out of the 54 attackers were refugees. [1] My family lives in Bonn and I often go to Cologne for parties, the sort of behaviour that happened during New Year’s was already familiar to me. During Carnival fests, about 5 years ago, also in Cologne by the Hauptbahnhof and Cathedral, we had been approached and assaulted by various Caucasian German and English speaking men. This is not a race-related problem, for race doesn’t actually exist, it is a made up concept that is used to separate and stigmatize. Sadly, due to the fact that so many people believe in race, one has to consider intersectionality when it comes to such issues. As architects we have to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and consider their background in order to produce something for them, yet at the same time we have to deal with our egos and persona. This is, for me, the most important thing one can learn from Architecture in practice and it is a lesson that can and should be applied outside practice.

[1] Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/cologne-only-three-out-of-58-men-arrested-in-connection-with-mass-sex-attack-on-new-years-eve-are-a6874201.html#gallery

By Luisa Luisa Pereira, Stage 3

Diary of an Architecture Student Volunteer in Lesvos: Food, Clothing, Muscles and Rebels

Fig 1. View from the camp. Photo by Jacopo Corsini

“There are people out there who are suffering and there’s very little they can do about it”…“Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m happy because I know that these people are hurting. How can I be happy when I know that people are being forced to live in refugee camps and ghettos, while women are being sex trafficked and millions of innocent people are suffering? So as I sit here and look at my life, I feel grateful, but I also feel confused.”
– Stephen Swartz author of Crossfire

Once I got to Lesvos, Silvia tells me, ‘Everyone is taking a break today’. There had been a storm the previous night, which had destroyed the tents and soaked everything. Everyone’s mood was down, so we decided to down a couple of Ouzu shots – the best alcohol to go with Chamomile tea and honey as I found out later that night. Seeing all your work getting destroyed was not easy but getting there on such day made it possible for me to get to know everyone. I got to talk with Dervla, this cool motivational Irish lady which gave me great advice. Silvia, the star of the falafel group, and I got some sober drinks and talked, the mood was starting to go up. I got some very good advice from Andreas our Greek man on how to help when the boats arrive. I then met Dani, a 30 year old cool metal head Syrian newcomer who is also a tattoo artist as well as a volunteer in Lesvos. Soon enough I started making connections and sharing experiences. The same situation was being lived differently by different people. We were sharing moments and having fun while going through chaos.

Although it did not become evident to me at first, a lot of the people were involved politically which is crucial but I came to realise that this ‘stand’, if not done pragmatically, can collide or even work  against the humanization and the solidarity that is so needed given the circumstances.

Leo had sign me in for the Lunch Shift. I did a bit of everything: cooking, sorting out clothes and just get to know people. I had the chance to put my French to test.

Fig 2. Omaira and Ella sorting out clothes

The clothing tent was extraordinarily difficult to manage; we had to sort out clothes and separate wet from dry from dirty as well as men’s from women’s from children. Socks had to be pinned together into groups of 3 pairs. Omaira, Ella and I spent the day sorting these out into bags to be sent to the ‘Dirty Girls’. The Dirty Girls are a group of women which gather most clothing from the camps, wash it, dry it and send it back to the warehouse which will then be distributed to all the camps across the island on list of demands made by each camp. Camps would cooperate with each other alot of generous donations came from locals. However chaotic the situation was … somehow things seemed to be working out.

After a while I started making all the shifts for the Clothing tent. A major issue was the fact that the tent had been damaged from the storm thus clothes had gotten wet. On top of this, we had stray dogs coming in and out leaving that wonderful dog smell on the clothes and blankets. I took on the task of sorting things out, fixing the tent and put the clothes on the top shelves for limited and practically impossible canine access.

Fig 3. Sassy Young Man at the Camp on New Years. Photo by Silvia Converso

Soon, I had my two habibis, Mohamed and Mohamed Saeed helping me out in the tent. As the camp, at the time, was mostly made up of sassy young men with a great sense of fashion they were the most appropriate to help.  Mohamed and Mohamed Saeed were Algerian, both with beautiful brown eyes always down to help out and make jokes amongst us with broken French, Arabic and English. Malik joined us a couple of times and he was so tired one day Ella found him sleeping like a baby in the blanket tent. Chiara joined us later on and she was by far the greatest contributor to this task, always motivated and focused.

 

Fig 4. Undocumented migrant Malik from Algeria adjusts his hair. Photo by Iva Zimova January 8, 2016
Fig 5. Silvia and Jeremy the Chefs

Meanwhile in the kitchen Silvia, Jeremy, Riki and Lulu kept busy making vegan food and distributing it. Leo and Louis kept fixing bits and pieces of the structure they had started to build in the previous weeks. Together with the help of Riki and Jacopo they started expanding and reinforcing the existing structures by using some reclaimed wooden pallets and covers recycled from the rafts and from some donations of the UNHCR. At this point Pierre was developing his project in the Greek man’s workshop.

Fig 6. Louis and Leo fixing the main tent

The collaborative spirit between volunteers and newcomers was a great thing to be part of. All these men and women put their muscles and brains to good use and helped Leo and Louis building the front reinforced cover for the kitchen. Men have just as many collaborative and multitasking skills as women do. I got to meet the most awesome male feminists and they took over the role of helping in the kitchen, cooking delicious things for everyone and making great contributions towards the construction of  infrastructure.

I was told I reminded someone of their mother, I could see how much he must have missed her. I got some speakers and we got a party going and interestingly enough I found out that I wasn’t the only one to obsess over Kuduro from Angola, which was so refreshing since no one around here seems to know what it was.  Everyone gathered in front of the kitchen listening to some Arabic or Portuguese lyric music, it was great. At some point the music stopped and someone had taken the portable charging device from the speakers. Surely they will give it much more use than I ever would!

Fig 7. Jeremy and Rik in the kitchen. Photo by Silvia Converso
Fig 8. Lulu cleaning the dishes. Photo by Silvia Converso

The collaboration in the building and management of the spaces was crucial in order to engage in conversation with the refugees instead of distancing volunteers from refugees. The political engagement of some of the volunteers we partnered up with was, for me, too extreme and not useful. Having had to spend hours and hours in meetings where my voice was ignored was frustrating as I would much rather be outside looking at the stars and dancing with the rest of the people. Our over politicized meetings sounded to the people outside like a ‘football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid’ – a quote from Malik’s friend.

Fig 9. Chiara and extra helpers in the kitchen. Photo by Silvia Converso
Fig 10. View from the Camp. Photo by Jacopo Corsini
Fig 11. View towards the port. Photo by Jacopo Corsini

Although the camp was managed throughout the day with the collaboration of everyone, for some reason only on one occasion did we have one of the newcomers present, the most linguistically intelligent young men I have met – Abdul. Abdul spoke Spanish, Arabic, Italian, French and English and he was a peace maker trying to help everyone, he translated so much for us! His voice and that of some of the other newcomers had not been heard during the meeting which infuriated me. It seemed to me that some people we had partnered up with had good intentions yet their blindness led them to make wrong decisions. Decisions that contradicted their own beliefs of freedom and of kindness, and obviously put everyone else at risk.

Fig 12. Kitchen tent Preparation for the Storm

When the next storm was brewing Abdul said to me, ‘As long as we have dry clothes and blankets to change to in the morning we will be fine.’ This seemed reasonable to me, yet some people decided to take some of the migrants, who had not get registered, to a ‘safer place’ – the hospital. One of the nurses had to inform the police and let’s just say that had they not had their hands full at the time they could have gotten those people into big trouble. Some guy also said, ‘Why would I go to the hospital and sit if I can lay down here?’ Indeed why would you sit inside a building that stinks of death when you can lay down outside looking at the stars and at the views.

It seems to me that some volunteers were only interested on being the ‘good guy’. Being a rebel, an activist and a volunteer has become trendy and ‘cool’. Going along and accepting all rules can be damaging, yet rebelling against them for the purpose of being a rebel can be even worse, and in all honesty, stupid.

The original definition of ‘Hero’ in ancient Greece, and for Brazilians, is that of someone who has the great ability to get themselves into a lot of trouble and get out of it in the most possible ‘badass’ way, that is pragmatically and ‘in the moment’. The two examples of real Heroes I know of is Ulysses (Greek) and Macunaima (Brazilian) and yes those young men (refugees) are the one and only real authentic definition of Hero, the volunteers are nothing but the secondary characters of each and every Odyssey of those heroes.

By Luisa Pereira Pires, Stage 3