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Kent School of Architecture

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[STUDENT SHOWS 2011] The title of this year’s show was REGIONerate and, not surprisingly, it focused on regeneration, working with sites in the south east including Canterbury, Dungeness and the more socially and economically deprived Chatham and Margate

The student-curated show was a testimony to the collaborative spirit of the school. ‘The devolution of responsibility creates an atmosphere of competition between programmes, years and even modules,’ says director of recruitment and marketing Howard Griffin, who guided the committee that designed, constructed and curated the show. The exhibition feels very ‘art school’, with a touchy-feely arts and crafts atmosphere despite the range of works on show being very broad.

Well, yes. The show was imaginatively laid out with an interesting sequence of environments and variations in lighting and ceiling levels that flattered the wide range of media, which included plenty of hand drawing and models.

At first degree level, Alastair King exhibited an exquisitely crafted circulation model in zingy translucent plastic for his urban project. Rosie Seaman, who is equally adept at 3Ds and hand drawing, showed earthy cardboard models, along with prototype mixed media casts.

Ben Prince’s Dungeness Prison was the highlight of the MArch show. Designed as a rationalist addition to the Ballardian landscape of Dungeness, it questions notions of Purgatory and conflates the genius loci of the area with the need to house prisoners on a whole-life sentence. Cells are shown as Faraday cages within a prison illuminated by full-sized mock-ups of fluorescent tubes that harvest free light from electromagnetic fields

Morgan Grylls’ Box 3 Spool 5 – Becket Theatre gave Prince a run for his money with a piece envisaging a theatre wrapped around a ruin of a Romney Marsh lookers Hut. As a metaphor for mortality, the shepherd’s shelter appears removed from a way of life lost forever and acts as the setting for Beckett’s play, Krapp’s Last Tape.

As these projects demonstrate, the work of this school is solid and thoughtful without being stodgy. Pastiche and vacuous rapid prototyping has been discouraged
and students, many of whom live on the campus, are encouraged to work in the department’s 24-hour studios, where they receive vigilant attention from the staff.

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