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Central sets up new masters degree to foster collaboration

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Tutors at Central St Martins College of Art and Design are to launch a new masters degree in an effort to solve what they call a 'worrying' lack of collaboration between architects and designers on heritage and museum projects.

Visitor attractions are often more like 'seaside arcades', they say, rather than spaces of real educational value because architects do not speak to the rest of the design team early enough.

The multi-disciplinary course, set to start in 2002 or early 2003, will be taught in part by Peter Higgins, a partner at Land Design Studio, which designed the exhibition spaces at the new National Football Museum in Preston (AJ 19.4.01).

Higgins estimates that £3 billion has been spent on cultural initiatives in the UK in the past five years, but says that hardly any of it has matched architecture with curatorial or visitor needs.

'Architects are given the job of making a landmark building and then we come along and start nailing stuff to the wall, ' he said. 'What we're saying to architects is don't just give us a landmark building. It seems to me that there can't be any other way of doing it than by doing it inside out.'

Higgins singled out the Dome, the Earth Centre and the National Centre for Popular Music for criticism.

Central St Martins is trying to appeal to architects, interior designers, graphics specialists, writers and curators who want to work collaboratively on museum projects. The college hopes to set up partnerships with galleries, museums and heritage projects around Europe.

'What we're looking for is a dynamic, ' said Tricia Austin, the college's head of MA critical context programmes. 'We want to set up a dialogue and push forward ideas about making these projects more collaborative from the very start.'

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