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Strathclyde University - School of Architecture

Very good in parts, but ample room for improvement.

The Strathclyde show offers a mixed menu. The ground floor gallery serves up an unexpected amuse-bouche of the best projects from lower years, such as Peter Harford-Cross’ precocious second year work for a travellers’ refuge in Inverary. Anticipation is high, but upstairs things turn pretty chewy.

Harford Cross

Harford Cross

The fourth years, for example, were at work on an exciting pair of sites – the Swiss town of Monte Crasso and the Woodlands area of Glasgow, but the viewer is left with neither comparative site models nor a group introduction to aid understanding. Students struggled both to conceive and to communicate designs for the complex Glasgow project, but the project for a small library in Switzerland excited a handful of responses which were rigorous, precise, and elegant – Swiss, indeed.

Fifth years had been asked to make work about ‘changing patterns’, and most projects were born of worthy but unimaginative research. Much of the urban design work is both data-heavy and unengaging in its presentation – urban design made half in a calculator and half on a 5,000:1 plan drawing. Where were the models and paintings, the poems and stories, the beauty and weirdness?

In Unit 2, that’s where. This is where the invention is. Mathew McKenna’s project, ‘The Great Duke Street Digression’, has a particularly distinctive voice. It is firstly a love letter to the everyday – the disruption caused by the lady who feeds the pigeons, the necessity of relieving one’s bladder after the pub – and secondly a network of modest proposals, which embrace and distort these rhythms. A welcome digestif.



Nick van Yonker is an architect at Gareth Hoskins Architects

ResumeStrathclyde dishes up a curate’s egg

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