Stage 1 BA (Hons) Architecture students bring Zenobia to life

Stage 1 students on the BA (Hons) Architecture course have brought Italo Calvino’s ‘Zenobia’, from his novel Invisible Cities, to life in their first mini project as part of AR318 Form Finding module.

Invisible Cities was initially written as a travel guide in 1972 in Italian by the Cuban writer Italo Calvino. The book explores the power of words and the imagination; an explorer, Marco Polo, describes a series of imaginary cities to the emperor, Kublai Khan. They are prose poems, probably inspired by Venice, which illustrate many aspects of the city; its culture, language, time, memory and death and through these they offer the reader an insight into the human experience. Over the course of two weeks, the students worked on their interpretations of a passage from the classic novel which describes the city of Zenobia, through illustrations and model-making.

MA Architectural Visualisation student, Olegk Stathopoulos, documented the assembly of their take on Zenobia outside the Marlowe Building and created a great short film which you can watch here.

Billhook Nook Theatre by SHED

There are few opportunities when studying architecture to translate your designs into built projects, except if you actively seek those projects which allow you to do so. This extracurricular project gave us an opportunity to put our design skills to the test and produce a multifunctional events space for use by both staff and future students. The theatre took about 2-3 weeks to complete and has inspired many of us to seek future projects with which we can develop our skills further. The difference between working as a team on an academic project compared to an active, built project is significant, and we have all learnt valuable lessons about both team work and designing as a result.

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The theatre concept originated from the study of popular natural artist Andy Goldsworthy and his technique of ‘ordering’ nature using materials found on site. Billhook Nook Theatre consists of a large sculptural roof structure designed to represent the ‘ordered’ interpretation of the surrounding woodland. This ‘birds nest’ form is built around a triangular structural frame which is then supported using chains by the surrounding trees. The benefit of securing the structure to the trees is that the roof, although static, moves gentle with the trees in the wind adding a dynamic character to the theatre (unlike many traditional theatres). The theatre is also intended to not only draw your attention to the focal point (in this case the stage area), but to draw your eye up to the canopy of leaves above.

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The SHED (Studio for Hands-on Experimental Design) team, led by myself currently includes second year students Benjamin Nourse, Aut Angpanitcharoen, Luisa Pires, Andrew Warwick and Prinka Anandawardhani Choesin. We all look forward to experiencing Billhook Nook Theatre throughout the seasons, and we encourage everyone else to do the same as it will soon be available as a bookable education space on campus. The theatre can be found below the new business school development near parkwood on campus, just look for the door.

This project would not have been possible without the help of Creative Campus and Ian Bride, and we look forward to future projects together.

By Edward Powe – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture

 

Work Experience

Instead of spending my Easter holidays relaxing on a beach in South Devon with a cream tea at my side, I used this time as an opportunity to undertake some work experience with an architectural firm who specialise in the design of tourist attractions. Although at first reluctant to give up the only free time I had after a very busy term, I soon came to realise the benefits of my decision.

University learning is a vital part of the process to becoming a good architect, but it has its limitations, the first being the disconnection between students and active building projects. This means that while learning at university you may think that what you are doing is worthwhile, but it is not until you enter the industry that you realise what the most important processes are and therefore which skill areas are most worthwhile to develop. It’s like trying to paint someone’s portrait before ever seeing them. If it were up to me to decide, I believe that a degree in architecture should start with compulsory work in practice before theoretical learning begins, this however for obvious reasons is not the case in our current system. Now having spend time studying the profession I am in a better position to judge which skills are require and which are less so. This also means that I can now relate the projects I undertake at university to the real world subsequently giving my university work more depth and realism.

Another benefit to getting into the industry early is what is known as getting your ‘foot in the door.’ It is basic business that dictates it is more cost effective to keep an employee on than to train a new one, therefore as soon as you begin to learn company specific processes, you are making yourself very attractive when it comes to longer term planning. What I mean by this is that by getting into a firm early, knowingly or not, you are making the search for a year out position much easier when it comes to that time. While others are having the last minute panic as third year comes to an end, you can relax knowing that yours is already sorted.

Although I have not developed my design skills very much, I believe that I have learnt more about the processes involved in the architectural profession in those 3 weeks than I have done this year at university, and I would encourage everyone to do the same.

By Edward Powe – Stage 2 BA (Hons) Architecture

 

Student profile – Luísa Pires

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Luísa Pereira Pires

2nd year bachelors

 

I am from Lisbon, Portugal and lived there for 15 years. I then moved to Bonn, Germany and then came to study here in Canterbury. I developed my love for architecture since I was very young, Lisbon is full of beautiful architecture and I am fascinated by it. As I grew up I developed an interest for Arts, Science and History, it became evident to me, at the age of 13, that I would want to become an architect some day.

– Why did you choose KSA?

I chose KSA because it is well located geographically , it is international and has a good reputation.

– What are you currently working on?

Currently I have just finished a proposal for the competition of the Eliot cloister garden which I did in collaboration with Aut. Our aim was to create an interactive structure that also delimited the public and more private spaces. We did this by designing an ellipse composed by timber slabs at different progressive angles that allows for shelter sitting and leaning. I am now working on my proposal for the Collective Dwelling module , for the town of Faversham as well as on my Form and Structure proposal for a roof.

louisaa-Which building or architect has had the greatest influence on your work?

I feel like it is still too early to define what architect or building greatly influences my work. Although I very much admire contemporary works such as “A placa” by Siza and works by Calatrava I also find traditional and historic buildings, such as Cologne Cathedral, inspiring. For me it is a matter of defining a context and circumstances and then look for inspiration by taking those into consideration.

– What advice would you give to someone embarking on an architectural degree? 

I have an advice given by Frank Ghery : You are the expert in your own work.  My own advice is you need to be able to handle criticism well enough to not let it affect the confidence you have in your work. You need to believe in yourself and not give too much importance to the grades that you get but pay close attention to the feedbacks because those are the ones that help you improve. Also you will learn that you are unique in the way you do things and that good Architecture is a subject almost always based on opinion.

 

Stage 1 – Life Drawing

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Lecturer Patrick Crouch and our Stage 1 students have been very busy over the last few weeks in the studio with life drawing. The Architectural Representation module is run over both Autumn and Spring term in Stage 1. This module teaches the principles and skills of orthographic and metric projections, perspective drawing and rendering of drawings to communicate design aspirations. Emphasis will be placed on the use of the sketch book and the development of freehand drawing.

To find out about more about the module please click here.

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Stage 1 Barcelona Field Trip

Stage 1 visit Barcelona in the Autumn term. It is always fraught with difficulties trying to organise a venture such as this so early in the year, but the gains far out-weight the pain. The Architectural experiential benefits at the broadest level of such a visit are without question, but perhaps in parallel with this is the social interaction and bonding it promotes amongst a new cohort of students, the majority of which are experiencing for the first time ‘education away from home’.

Claire Schroeder – BA (Hons) Architecture

In December of 2013, many Stage 1 students departed for Barcelona, Spain at some ungodly hour of the morning, an effort however, which was regretted by none. Awaiting us was a week of intense picture taking, gallery viewing, site measuring and not to mention evening socialising. The objective of the trip was not only to record the site for the following term’s Building Design module but also to enjoy some of the main sites of one of Europe’s most animated cities all the while allowing students to build a strong group dynamic.

Throughout the course of the week we were able to visit some of Barcelona’s iconic features such as Park Guell, which we were lucky enough to be sketching under some southern December sun. We were also able to experience the masterpiece that is the Sagrada Familia, without forgetting, and continuing with the Gaudi theme, the Casa Milo and the Casa Batilo. All perfect examples of Gaudi’s great impact on the city. Other memorable sites were of course the Ramblas, the city’s center of attraction which leads down through Barceloneta, to the beautiful Port Olympic, home to Frank O. Gehry’s Fish.

Along with Barcelona comes not only architecture but also art, and the many impressive Galleries and Museums housing the works of so many, vastly diverse artists. In the midst of our treacherous hikes through the city we made many pit-stops at some of these buildings such as the Fundacio Joan Miro, the Museau d’Art Contemporani (MACBA), the Centre de Cultura Contemporania (CCCB) and many more, where we were able to admire what seems like only a small portion of the artistic wealth of the city as well as modestly attempt to capture these pieces in our own sketchbooks.

All educational trips do however include work. On this trip we had the task of choosing our six preferred pieces amongst the immense variety of art viewed during the week. Along side this we were also asked to take six photographs capturing everything we felt about six different places throughout the city, following the style of Roloff Beny. Most importantly however, the recording of the site for our Building Design module allowed us to experience hands-on everything that the analysis of a site entails, from the dimensions of lampposts to the environment the site is in, the current social occupation of the space and it’s current functionality throughout time.

Students took full advantage of evenings in the many charming restaurants and upbeat pubs and clubs in and around the city center, being reasonable as ever of course. The profound uniqueness of the city can be sensed everywhere, from the pixelated fruit on top of a market to a bull ring transformed into a shopping center or even a hospital laid out to represent the human body. There is definitely no way to capture how wonderfully charming Barcelona is in words, it’s a must-see, and I think I speak for everyone in saying that we had an absolute blast and that this trip was definitely an unforgettable experience.

Kent School of Architecture BA Architecture Shelter Project 2013

Shelter Project

The first year students on the BA Architecture course at the University of Kent will camp out on the grass adjacent to the Marlowe building in shelters that they have designed and made on the evening of Monday the 28th of October 2013.

The project is aimed to give the first year students an insight into the practical side of real live building. They have to design the structure to withstand wind and gravity and also organise the waterproofing. They have to do this with only a limited palette of materials which tests their ingenuity.

The shelters have to survive for one night then the materials are recycled as far as is possible, some parts ending up in architectural models later in the year.

This is a project, which has been run for several years, always proves to be great fun for all (even if the participants do get wet!). There is a prize awarded the following morning (Tuesday) by the head of Kent School of Architecture for the most innovative and successful shelter.

The shelters will be erected during the morning and afternoon of Monday the 28th of October and you are invited to visit the construction site.