Outreach workshops at Community College Whitstable

As part of the Outreach programme which the Kent School of Architecture runs, we made four trips to Community College Whitstable where we introduced the subject of architecture to a class of Year 9 Art students.

In our first two sessions we discussed the principles behind architectural drawing to the students, before introducing them to their brief – to design a café with a view on the Whitstable Harbour Arm.  Working in groups of 3 to 4, the students quickly started playing with ideas by sketching them and by exploring existing precedents.  By looking at projects such as underwater hotels and roof-top gardens, the students soon realised that the possibilities of architecture went beyond what they had originally thought.

In the third session, we introduced the students to the idea of working to scale and with this in mind, tasked them with making a 1:100 scale model which would showcase their designs.  We provided them with white card, acetate, foam board and paper and the designs soon came to life which the students all seemed to really enjoy.  Although some of the students needed encouragement in their abilities to design and model-make, they all pushed through and produced a variety of exciting and unique proposals.  The model making continued into our final session, at the end of which, we asked them to present their work to the rest of the class, which they all felt confident in doing.

During our time there it was great to also talk to the students about studying architecture.  Although they were only 13 years old, they were curious about the route to becoming an architect, as well as our current MArch work.  They spoke to us about their personal experiences and interests in the field, and there were a few students who were genuinely interested in pursuing it in the future.

Overall, we were truly impressed with the students’ creativity, outcomes, and interest in the subject. We both agree that we would have enjoyed a workshop like this at their age, as neither of us had the opportunity.  We hope the students have not only learned about architecture as a potential career path, but also about group-work, the design process and confidence in their abilities and ideas.

By Monica Win and Edward Hobbs
Stage 4, MArch

MArch Open Afternoons 2017/18

Kent School of Architecture are hosting a series of MArch Open Afternoons (2pm – 4pm) in Studio C, Marlowe Building on the Canterbury campus.

If you are interested in studying on the MArch programme, and would like to find out more information about the course structure, unit system, entry requirements and would like an opportunity to speak with the MArch programme director, Michael Richards, along with current students and unit leaders, then please choose from one of the following dates below to attend:

  • Tuesday 12 December 2017, 2pm – 4pm, Studio C
  • Tuesday 27 February 2018, 2pm – 4pm, Studio C
  • Wednesday 4 April 2018, 2pm – 4pm, Studio C
  • Wednesday 20 June 2018, 2pm – 4pm, Studio C

If you would like to attend, or have any queries about the MArch course, please email ksaadmissions@kent.ac.uk for online booking information.

MArch student wins 3DReid Student Prize

Graduating 5th Year MArch student, Bradley Sowter, has won this year’s £1,000 3DReid Student Prize for the best Part 2 student in the UK for his architectural retelling of a Christmas Carol.

The Project, ‘A Christmas Carol’, explores the work/home divide within Central and how we can reconnect with our loved ones. Using A Christmas Carol as a proxy the project explores the uncanny nature of the unheimlich, within the art form of Film. Through the investigation of this film, architecture manifests itself throughout the city as temporary and permanent film sets.


KSA MArch students invited to Lord Heseltine’s Thames Estuary Commission

Charlie Hope, Robert Joyce and Abbie Sobik of Stage 5 joined two Masters students from Westminster to present their vision for the Thames Estuary 2050 through the themes of Live, Work, Connectivity and Identity. The students were invited by Sadie Morgan, co-founder of dRMM architects to Lord Heseltine’s Thames Estuary Commission’s Charette, hosted on the 39th Floor at Canary Wharf. The day featured presentations from a number of high profile guests including Sir Stuart Lipton, Professor Michael Parkinson and author of ‘The New English Landscape’, Ken Worpole.


Academic Peer Mentor – Matthew Bullock

Stage 5 – MArch

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.William Arthur Ward

During my Part 1 year in industry I was shown this quote and I could immediately relate to it from throughout my education, in both a positive and negative manner. Finding, or having the luck of having, educators who go beyond the curriculum and their pay grade to truly aid in the growth of one’s education seems like a rarity. Yet as a first year student I had some of the fifth years as my design tutors, all of which I found amongst the most understanding, interesting and inspiring educators I have ever had.

From that moment I knew I wanted to teach at some point later on in my career. Mentoring whilst I was a 4th year student seemed like a great opportunity to begin this process and try to replicate what my student tutors had achieved with me.

As a mentor, I believed my role to be important in encouraging students to challenge themselves rather than conforming to the normality, experimenting with a wide variety of mediums and directing them to sources of information which I myself constantly use to develop my own work and process. Because of my own experience, I was able to share my own knowledge of similar challenges. With this openness, I believe that ‘my mentees’ felt very comfortable and relaxed discussing their projects with me. Through these discussions I was able to help them find their own way towards their final schemes, which they believed in, had confidence in, and ultimately enjoyed.

This connection with the undergraduates provided an ability to integrate myself further within the school which I really valued. Mentoring additionally provided me with a rare opportunity to develop my own critical analysis and design process, whilst also strengthening my communication skills by challenging and developing ideas through a variety of processes.

On reflection, I am very proud and impressed with all the mentees I worked with and I look forward to hearing how they are doing now they are beginning their year in professional practice or third year of studies. As long as I inspire in whatever scale, volume or manner, I shall feel like I have succeeded as a mentor.

I would thoroughly recommend becoming a mentor if you like helping others, wish to understand the benefits critical analysis can have to your own work, and also want to develop personally as a student and a mentor.

Mentee: Linda Malaeb

Being a mentee gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who has been in your position about anything regarding your architecture degree. This can be regarding anything from your modules to the way you manage your time with the considerable workload.

I found having a mentor very helpful since you have another person to talk to regarding your design projects other than your tutor. In architecture opinions are very important and hearing another opinion about your design is very useful; your mentor can give lots of advice on how to tackle certain issues with your plans and point you in the right direction.

If I was confused about my tutor’s comments from the previous tutorial, my mentor would help me understand what was really the problem in my design scheme.

It is useful to talk to a student rather than a member of staff, since it is not as formal and a mentor is there to just make you feel more comfortable with the work and the stress that architecture can give.

I found it better to manage my time this year since I used to do all my work for the tutorial for my meeting with my mentor, and then from there I would change a few things and go to the tutorial with all my work done and checked already by someone else higher up in the school.

My mentor helped also check my CV since I was looking at applying for an internship and he gave me lots of advice on how to make a portfolio. Knowing people who are higher up in the school is also important as you can learn a lot from them: my mentor always showed me his work and I went to watch his crits which helped me to have an idea of what is expected in the future regarding the quality of work and presentation.

I found having a mentor very useful in general with my architecture education and I would really recommend it to everyone.

Mentee: Miles Heath

My experience of being mentored through my 3rd year was very much a positive one. It is not only just an educational activity but a social one. Taking part in this scheme has taught me to think about design in a more mature way, helped me develop new techniques in which to communicate my ideas and urged me to deliver a much higher standard of work. This has been achieved by having the fresh and critical guidance outside of a standard tutorial. This also exposed me to a high level of master’s work and gave me an insight into the process that my mentor went through to accomplish his own design ideas. As mentioned, developing myself as a designer was not the only perk. Mentoring is a much more relaxed and informal event which becomes more of a friendly talk rather than a coordinated meeting with a tutor. I have, as a result, made friends as well as progressing myself.

Former KSA students receive Congratulations in SPAB’s Philip Webb Award 2016

Britain’s oldest architectural conservation group, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), which was founded in 1877, have announced the competition results for the Philip Webb Award 2016.

Congratulations were given to former KSA MArch students Jennifer Bull, for clarity and impact of supporting information, and Hannah Couper for articulation of supporting narrative and proposal. Kent School of Architecture has an increasing reputation in the field of architectural conservation, and this is strengthened by our MSc Architectural Conservation programme.

The 2016 competition results were announced in the SPAB Magazine Winter 2016 issue which came out earlier this month, and a feature article will follow in the Spring 2017 Issue, available in March.

For more information about The Philip Webb Award, please click here.

KSA student wins at RIBA President’s Medals Ceremony

Kent School of Architecture MArch student James Bussey received the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing at Part 2 at the 2016 RIBA President’s Medal awards ceremony yesterday, Tuesday 6th December 2016 at the RIBA in London; the award was given by RIBA President Jane Duncan.

James Bussey’s project entitled ‘The Company’ is set on Helgoland in the North Sea. An interpretation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was a key starting point.

The project narrative begins in 1848 with the shipwreck of an outsider and it chronicles the evolution of the island and its society. Urban development evolves over a timeline of 150 years culminating with a citadel, the location for key civic and religious activities. The drawings, presented here in the style of a graphic novel, depict the protagonist Elisa Hecker’s experience of architecture on the island. The final architectural proposition is the citadel constructed over the town.

Regarding his time at Kent School of Architecture, James would like to thank his Unit 3 tutors Adam Cole, George Thomson and Tom Van Hoffelen who ‘were exceptional teachers, helping me to have the confidence, skills and ability to achieve a project I was proud of.’

A huge congratulations to James from all at KSA!

Chapter 8, The Model Worker by James Bussey
Chapter 8, The Model Worker by James Bussey

Academic Peer Mentor – Robert Allcoat

Stage 4 – MArch

Last year I mentored a number of Stage 3 students. The first point that struck me about the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme was the objectivity required; architecture, however, is a very subjective course, especially when it comes to design projects. Striking a balance between the two was quite a challenge.

From the offset most of the mentees had many questions, both about the year ahead and the Part I year out. To me this demonstrated the mentees’ curiosity and their desire to find out more. I had been through the same course and had had similar projects to them, so I appreciated the type of questions they might have and the value of extra help.

Throughout the year we covered a variety of topics and, from presentation techniques and styles to specific project questions, advice with CVs and portfolios for their coming year out to the fundamentals of line-weights. Quite often a question would put me on the spot, to which I would not know the answer; in that situation you simply have to be honest and say you do not know, or try to help them find the answer later on.

It is the first year the School of Architecture has been part of the mentoring scheme and I think it has worked very well. It not only provides the mentees with another outlet to discuss project work and ideas, and to put forward specific questions; it gives them support from someone on the same level with them — albeit with a little more experience – to hopefully guide them without the pressure of a student-tutor relationship.

From the perspective as a mentor it has helped me to think of different ways to explain something that might – at first glance – seem evident to me, reinforcing the importance of clear communication. I appreciate how important and valuable it can be to discuss ideas and topics with someone who perhaps is not so familiar with your project work, and that they may offer a completely different perspective on it. The mentoring scheme is certainly something I would like to participate in again next year.

Mentee: Charlotte Middleton

The mentoring scheme set up by the university was invaluable during my third year in the school. With the uncertainty about life after university, the mentor was there to answer questions and reassure from first-hand experience. I received help in improving my CV and portfolio, strengthening my application for Part 1 placements. During the year, it was useful to talk to a student who had already been through the projects and was able to advise on time-keeping, organisation and aid with the designs themselves. The scheme has been extremely helpful for me and I shall definitely be signing up as a mentor to give back to it.

MArch Student Profile – Rosie Seaman

What made you want to return to Kent?
Prior to undergraduate I always sought to study at a school that allowed the opportunity to continue from BA to March and experience the progression from first year to fifth year in once place. The connection between place and people, and support of the staff to enable MArch to be as enjoyable and fulfilled as possible was extremely important, thus meaning Kent was always the obvious choice for me.

How do you feel that the learning environment has changed between the BA and the MArch?
MArch is an experience where you can grow as an individual. Your ideas and beliefs about architecture and architectural context are nurtured and it is encouraged that you follow a path that you are interested in to create rich and interesting work; plus the wide resources of teaching staff give valuable input which in turn allows your knowledge to grow even more. There is no doubt that you will come out the other side of this course with a better understanding of yourself in an architectural position and knowing something you didn’t know before.

Tell us about the unit system and the benefits of vertical learning (Stage 4 and 5 working together)
In MArch you are at a level where no matter whether you are 4th or 5th year you have something to learn from everybody. This may be within the course or it may be from the vast range of experience everyone has gathered during their time in practice, however it is all invaluable and vertical learning allows this to be dispersed across both the years. This is a time where we should be enjoying trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible before leaving education. The unit system works well in that sense as it allows different projects to be developed, and although the units work independently from each other, there is always an opportunity to learn from what another unit is doing.

What are you enjoying most about university?
You are always pushing yourself to the extremes and attempting to achieve work with exciting outcomes. Most of all, although we are sitting in the studio every day working hard, we are doing it with our friends and we are doing something we love – I definitely appreciate that.

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?
The support at Kent has always been of a very high standard, from BA through to MArch, and over the years you learn that the staff will always be there to help and ensure that you reach your highest potential.

MArch Student Profile – Virginia Tech Study Abroad – Jamie Hissey

Virginia Tech Study Abroad

If a university education is not only to achieve a qualification but to broaden your life experience then an opportunity to study abroad must be one of the best ways of helping to attain both of these goals. Having been a loyal architecture student at the University of Kent for both undergraduate and postgraduate, I wanted the opportunity to experience new teaching styles that would help me build on the solid educational foundation that Kent had already provided. When I heard about the possibility of studying abroad at the Washington Alexandria Architecture School (WAAC), Virginia Tech, I jumped at this opportunity. I submitted my portfolio to the department and was fortunate enough to be selected to represent Kent at the Virginia Tech Architecture School. I was also successful in gaining a Study Abroad Scholarship from Santander.

On arriving in Washington DC I was welcomed into the school with open arms. Since 1985, the WAAC has served to house a consortium of architecture schools from all over the globe. Currently, 13 universities are part of the consortium. This structure provides exposure to a diverse student and faculty perspectives and promotes and encourages a unique design dialogue. Once I had enrolled, I was met with many other students from all corners of the world under one roof. This was an amazing chance to live and work with other students from all across the world and learn from their experiences, design methods and teaching.

Virginia Tech’s classes are chosen on a credit system with further opportunities to audit other classes that interest you. With the variety of classes taught at the school I chose to study ‘The Theory of Urban Form’ and ‘Advanced Computer Aided Design’ alongside my thesis project entitled ‘The Embassy for Tea; A Didactic Landscape’. This final year project was started at the WAAC with the aim of returning to Kent to further develop the proposal using a combination of skills acquired both at Virginia Tech and Kent. I selected 3 tutors to serve as my committee members who each specialised in different fields of Architecture to tutor me throughout the term. The newly refurbished studio space and individual work station further encouraged me to make full use of my tutors and time at the school.

jamievirginia2The university accommodation was a complex of apartments in a converted church that made it easy to meet new people and socialise. During the time abroad I had the opportunity to visit many of the architecturally significant cities on the east coast including New York, Philadelphia, and of course Washington DC. As a school we also had the amazing opportunity to visit Frank Lloyd Wrights ‘Falling Water’ and ‘Kentuck Knob’ in Virginia. Other highlights for me included playing a season of rugby for Washington DC, experiencing a real American family thanksgiving and making a number of friends for life.

I really feel as though my time studying aboard has greatly benefited me as an architecture student. Being granted the opportunity to study abroad for the first term but return to Kent for the remainder of the year has enabled me, with the help of my tutors, to take what skills I gained at the WAAC, refine and combine them within the Kent program which will hopefully mould me into a better architect.