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Student Shows 2012: The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College of London

Ben Adams visits the Bartlett and finds a show with a surprising emphasis on craft

The Bartlett is a School of Architecture of International renown and this is reflected in units located in Fes, Manhattan, Camden Town, Istanbul and further away. The show comes with a burden of expectation where spectacular imagery and futuristic utopias are the expected stereotypes. More surprising is the emphasis on craft in 2012, particularly in the extremes of crafting that include 3D printing, vast drawings that become models, and even a studio full of zoetropes.

This breadth of enquiry is represented by a beautiful collection of objects, though we are often held at arm’s length from the architectural proposals in order to better appreciate their vast scale. MArch Unit 11 (Super-Urban-Mega-Listic) stands out through Emma Flynn’s extraordinary take on suburbia and recycling. The two are considered and then combined in Long Island, NY to create a new kind of suburb where the recycling of waste and suburban family life coexist without rancour – and a new housing model results.

The speculative nature of many units is a fertile territory for diverse architectural excursions although in many cases this reviewer was left wanting more engagement with actual city life.  It is the projects that experiment with how we perceive space in an environmentally and ideologically damaged world that resonate most strongly.  Approaches range from sophisticated mapping technologies to earthy hand drawings, but the strongest work – from Beijing to Elephant and Castle – engages with genuine and thought-provoking collisions between space and society.

Standout unit

MArch Unit 11

Standout student

Emma Flynn

In a word

Craft

AJ reviews of every student show in the UK are in AJ26.07.12. Students can subscribe to the AJ for just £82.50.

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