Thursday, 1 March 2012

Eleven Slides Maketh Architecture

The opportunity to establish a new course of study offers some reflection on how the practice and teaching of architecture have diverged over the last 20 years. The New BA (hons) Architecture Course at Norwich University College of the Arts, commencing in 2013, explores the relevance of teaching to industry and practice. Placing importance on allowing each student to develop their own way of working and to be learned enough to place their praxis within the context of architectural history. Knowledge of design history and processes in defining the aesthetic qualities of architecture other than building, what John Betjeman referred to as the 'otherisms'of atmosphere and setting, will be key factors in defining a unique and local flavour. Important qualities that come out of the expeditionary faculties good schools of architecture traditionally held in conducting local fieldwork and understanding the qualities that give Norfolk and Norwich a strong local identity that is 'twinned' internationally, either through tourism, trade and other ethnological factors.

Pattern Book / Purist Collage

Learning from history to familiarize each student with the complexity of architecture and guide new design aesthetics is established in the first year of study where we first look at the architect collector and influence of the 'Grand Tour'. Starting with the 'Young' Soane and his first house commission, Letton Hall Norfolk we look at the role of pattern books in collecting and importing classical styles into the eighteenth century neo-classicists who in blending a desire to emulate with local craft and materials created new architecture that was far removed from the renaissance Palladian Villas. Importantly by understanding this way architecture was designed we reveal a similar approach adopted by Le Corbusier in mapping classical proportions and importing these into modern architecture. Studies will be 2d, initially drawing and observational to create the necessary ingredients that each student can then use to make their purist collage.

Forms in Space / Forms as Space

Following a similar pattern to the earlier exercise we now immerse each student in the Arts & Crafts and the qualities the country house and local craftspeople gave to houses by Lutyens, Voysey and Prior. Blessed with three outstanding local arts and crafts houses Happisburgh Manor House by Detmar Blow, Overstrand Hall by Lutyens and Home Place by Edward Prior we will immerse ourselves in furniture that comes 'out of architecture' and likewise how furniture mimics habit and creates space. We also look at the industrial aesthetic of objects dictated by use, be they the rudder of a boat or the casting of an engine block in making a suspended mobile study titled 'forms as space' in which the composition of familiar objects in suspension creates new spatial relationships. This is a 3d compositional study exploring similar 2d themes looked at in the earlier Purist Collage brief.

Future Memory

The final project of the first year's study is a comprehensive design brief asking students to work as a team in studying, surveying and making a diorama in which each of them will display scale models of their 'future memories'. Each future memory is an unoccupied structure that is infused with ideas representing time and shared memories. Suitable examples include memorials, clock towers, cemeteries,...

Casting Space

Following a site visit students are asked to make interpretive plaster-casts of found urban conditions. Making multiple cardboard molds to try and cast and link spaces within. In the final cast students are asked to rescale this and inhabit it by drawing sections that in the drawing make architecture. The exercise is a very good way of reversing the liner design programme as each cast is examined as a 'found' condition that holds a design waiting to be found and revealed.

Cities Stories

Revisiting design history learnt in first year studies students are asked to apply their knowledge and demonstrate an understanding of the different styles defining regional, national and international culture. These are presented as a 5 minute travelogue based on a filmed 'journey'.

Climate Construction Technology Design

Examining the influence of climate and technology on structures. Includes the passive energy differences and uses of lightweight versus heavy structures and how chosen materials can influence design aesthetics, the empirical feel of new spaces including acoustics and light. A key focus for this part of the course is an introduction to Part B and Part L of the building regulations and how different structures meet different statutory criteria.

Special Interest Report Each student is asked to write about a current industry trend in the making of architecture to demonstrate the value of research in manufacturing and predicting or 'future-proofing' architecture.

City Slice

100 metre long city section at 1:100 as a device to find potential sites for the 'readings' and 'inserts' studies below. City Slice is contextual studies that reinvent the city in a similar way in which we only remember key moments of a journey to work. Creative interpretation of the traditional scaled architectural section is encouraged.

Readings / Inserts

Group analysis and discussion of the different sized sites discovered in the City Slices and investigations into suitable housing modules that can be replicated and composed to send 'echoes' into the larger sites.

Local into Global

Charles Jenck's mapping of architectural styles is the starting point for each students design briefing document that will direct their third year studies and research.

Global Contexts / Local Spaces

The final brief is a comprehensive design project exploring 'twinning' of local regional emphasis exported to an international location or imported from a global context into a local space. By now each student can apply the full repertoire of architectural design history and make knowing decisions about their work and how their work connects with and expands earlier studies conducted by iconic architects.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that the NUCA is offering such a course. Any final year students or others looking for a work placement please see our website. We are an architectural practice based in Gorleston, Norfolk and are looking to expand, adding members to our team.