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Paul Zara of Conran & Partners elbows his way through the University of Brighton show

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University of Brighton student exhibition, 30 May – 5th June at the Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton, BN2 0JY

The first thing you notice at the Brighton show is its shear breadth. There are five ‘shows’ in one – BA & Diploma in Architecture, BA in Interior Architecture, MA in Interior Design and MA Architectural and Urban Studies. As such, there is a lot to see and it’s displayed on a sliding screen system, designed by tutors and erected by students. It is both ingenious and irritating at the same time – a riot of particleboard and polypropylene – I managed to bash a few people, trying to see the work, which was fun.

Brighton continues to improve as a school; the general quality of the work is very strong. The architectural diploma students were exceptional in terms of presentation. David McMahon’s prize-winning research centre on the Ouse in Lewes had an elegance and lightness of touch, while remaining dark and haunting, presumably in line with the studio’s theme of contamination. And it’s good to see a practitioner such as architect Duncan Baker Brown of BBM Sustainable Design Ltd bringing his experience as a leading proponent of sustainability to a strong theoretical and research-based studio.
The strength of the interior architecture discipline is also refreshing; it is an important asset and gives the school a European flavour, bringing a strong architectural edge to interiors, a field in which most practicing architects are woefully under-skilled.

Paul Zara is a Director at Conran & Partners

Resume: Brighton rocks: Another strong year, and it just keeps getting better.

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