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Brighton School of Architecture

Clarity of design clouded by chaotic curating at Brighton

I’m not sure whether there was something reassuring that when the hyperactive multimedia touch screens didn’t work, or even allow you time to see who or what you were supposed to be looking at, one could simply turn to the three A3 newspaper sheets for the diploma students - each a separate studio - and a 40 page paper for the BA (Hons) students. That, or the school is not entirely embracing the future.

The wall that displayed the diploma work was a triumph of democracy, but a disaster in terms of legibility: trying to match Grant Hitchcock’s fine-looking skeletal structure as an isometric projection with, say, a sectional plan or a model arranged below was frustrating, as it was with several other’s work. While the circulation and separation of interior architecture/diploma/BA (Hons) was fine, a lot of the exposition was poor generally - whose work is this, what are they doing?

Emma Buchan's Plumpton relocation projectEmma Buchan’s proposal for transplanting agriculture courses from Plumpton to London

The Studio 3 diploma brief (tutors Chris Pierce and Richard Patterson) was for a transport interchange at Blackfriars station and bridge in London, using  ghost columns as structural supports. Helen Reid’s audacious helipad tower that looks like a crane caught the eye with its wonderful neon-strip lighting and swivel bearings that allow for a separate arm to house each helicopter.

The oddly fortified interlocking forms of Emma Buchan’s response to the “agritecture” brief - a proposal for transplanting agriculture courses from Plumpton College in Sussex to the South Bank Centre in London - was also impressively resolved, and intrigued with its cruciform fenestration and whale-like exterior.

Emma Buchan, Plumpton relocation projectEmma Buchan’s proposal for transplanting agriculture courses from Plumpton to London

The overall impression from a trip round the softly lit Sallis Benney theatre was of a generally busy but sober engagement with the theoretical and practical (there were certainly none of the primary colours or playfulness of Brighton alumni Barbara Hulanicki, the Biba designer, here) but the often infuriating presentation let it down somewhat.

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