Kingston School of Architecture
Galleries in places of worship, lidos in car parks and plenty of paper models: Kingston takes on Croydon
One/Off, Kingston University School of Architecture and Landscape Summer Show.
7-12 June, Knights Park Campus, Kingston University, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2QJ
It’s the singular subject of the Kingston University School of Architecture and Landscape student exhibition, entitled One/Off, that makes visiting this show so compelling. When Daniel Rosbottom was named head of school last year, he made the decision to have every architecture unit spend at least part of term studying and making proposals for the London borough of Croydon, with a focus on regenerating this unloved ‘city within a city’.
Croydon – notoriously bisected by roads, blighted by ubiquitous multi-storey car parks and shopping malls, and plagued by two recessions that each scuppered imminent plans for its renewal – has plenty of sites on offer for students to study.
Croydon Adult Quaker Hall model by Studio 2.4, photograph by Matthew Hine
And study they have done – from rethinking the use of the local Quaker Hall as an art gallery (second-year student Patricia Assuncao Do Rosario, Studio 2.4), to transforming its multi-storey car parks into lidos (second-year student Hadas Even-Tzur, Studio 2.2), to proposing a row of terraced infill housing which steps up gradually in scale, from the height of a house to the height of the nearby towers (Elena Licci, third-year student, Studio 3.2).
Hadas Even-Tzur’s multi-storey car park lido
The result is a show with unified purpose, confidence and real weight. It’s also opened the doors of the school to a whole new community. At the exhibition opening, several residents of Croydon popped in to have a look at the students’ proposals – including a contingent of Croydon Quakers, who sought out the second-year students from Unit 4’s work as inspiration regarding the future use of their Quaker Hall.
Elena Licci’s Housing
The exhibition also shows a marked emphasis on making and craft – some of the models on view are exquisite, from Diploma Unit 1 student Charles Szczech’s meticulous plaster casts of the Bank of England and Borromini’s dome to first year student James Taylor’s model of Eames house (Studio 1.3).
Charles Szczech’s Bank of England Stock Office Cast
Photographs from Demanding Attention are also on view, an exhibition in the style of Thomas Demand which depicts life-like paper models, reviewed in the AJ earlier this year (AJ 11.12.08).
Charles Szczech’s University Refectory
Not having visited Kingston’s show last year, I’m not able to compare this year’s work to its previous offerings. That said, this year’s exhibition was well worth the train journey and reveals an architecture school in excellent health.
Unified, confident and weighty, Kingston packs a refined punch
Christine Murray is deputy editor of the Architects’ Journal