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Student Shows 2012: Queen's University Belfast School of Architecture

Stephen Best observes the transformation of Queen’s

Over the past four years, under the firm direction of Michael McGarry and Ruth Morrow, Queen’s University Belfast has been transformed. Its fascination with research and precedent is the school’s strength. Each year displays a serious commitment to the precise understanding of a relevant building type. The third year’s effort is strong and includes a broad selection of finely made detailed models, ranging from Schinkel’s Altes Museum to Jorn Utzon’s Bagsvaerd Church.

Standout unit

There is strong work on display everywhere, but as expected the master’s degree show had the biggest impact. Although the projects seemed to fall into two distinct camps, heroic formalist and site-sensitive, a common rigour was shared between the two approaches. Each student display brimmed with beautifully rendered drawings and an engaging architectural investigation from large to small scale; each project displayed a high level of completeness.

The MArch studio had also captured its research into a wonderful little book, Stair Rooms, a survey of staircases across the centuries ranging from Hardwicke Hall to the Neues Museum. For those of us who liked beautiful things, this made a good addition to the library.

Standout students

Mark Winnington’s speculative Warehouse project displayed the raw power of a formalist approach, whereas in contrast Laura O’Gorman’s delicate Project for Paraic on the Aran Islands showed a remarkable sensitivity.

Yet it was Jonny Nelis’s 1:10 model that really stood out in the student show. Very few students had the gumption to draw their work at 1:10, never mind make a completely convincing model of it, which is exactly what he did.

In a word


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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