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Degree show review 2019: Hull College of Art and Design

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The passion of the work on show belies the recent news of the RIBA’s removal of validation from the architecture course

Before arriving at the Hull College of Art and Design’s Architecture Show following the recent removal of the RIBA course validation, it was not clear what might be expected, following such a turbulent year for the school. Crossing the Humber bridge and entering the UK’s City of Culture 2017 it is clear how the accolade has benefited the city and its future certainly looks bright, but question marks have been raised over the architectural courses within its college.

The purpose-built Art and Design building presents an immediately impressive backdrop for the modest selection of work on show from the small and diverse group of students within the school. Situated alongside other Art and Design degree shows, including fine art and fashion, the Architecture Show displays the undergraduate and postgraduate works immediately next to the workshop and studio facilities, which any School of Architecture would be proud of.

Img 2631

Img 2631

This relationship with their creative neighbours is evident in the breadth and variety of media both on the walls around the show and the models, with wooden structures, Revit and digital transcripts exhibited alongside wonderful hand-drawings

Richard Wright (mostly recently of Lincoln School of Architecture) has been tasked with turning around the school, which the visiting RIBA panel in December felt was unworthy of maintaining validation. After a turbulent few years and considerable uncertainty from the college that runs the courses, his optimism and determination is apparent, with a real desire to continue the work started by their loyal students. They pride themselves on their diverse student body and are clear the school wants to exploit students’ abilities and interests, rather than channelling them down a pre-determined path.

The BA-level work looks to engage the individual through a student’s self-led brief, with the range of ideas and work commendable. Some fantastic work includes Daniel Beardshaw’s hand-drawn studies, taking inspiration from Ian Bank’s The Bridge.

They present a speculative study into a building and community as facilitator for 3D printing. Tom Smith’s exploration of the Bradbury Building is another wonderful drawing study of the transcripts and movements within space of the architectural landmark. Other BA work includes a consulate in Liverpool, reimagining sports facilities on Hackney Marshes, and an Urban Retreat.

At Masters level, an interesting and socially driven project by Caleb Driver looks to re-use an industrial building in Leeds to provide an archive of industrial life and working-class culture. The eye-catching project takes pride of place on an expanse of wall in the sixth-year corner of the show. Other projects investigate entropy, and a subterranean distillery gives a nod to sustainability and environmental concerns.

All of the projects on show have an interesting and unique conceptual idea driving their research, focusing on students’ interests and the opportunity to explore different materials and media. Unfortunately, not all of the projects with such deeply explored programme follow through into complex or detailed architectural conclusion, which frustratingly leaves the visitor wanting to see and know more about some of the projects.

Hull portrait

Hull portrait

There are moments of fantastic work throughout the show, tucked into corners or within portfolios laid in front of the work on the wall.

At the far end of the show is the second-year BA and fifth-year MArch students’ combined model of work associated with venue spaces in Hull and explorations of venue and activity. It is a fantastic piece of sculpture that engages the students with their individual projects, particularly Tom Robinsons’s exploration of transcripts into architectural language and Chloe Alexander’s second-year event space project, with interesting material exploration.

Throughout the show it’s clear the students have enjoyed engaging with their concepts and ideas, many culminating in interesting and engaging architectural responses. Despite the recent news of the RIBA’s validation removal, the passion of the work on show belies this. Given an ongoing restructure of the course and with positive feedback from this year’s external examiners, the future is bright.

Robert Cook is a Part 2 architectural assistant at id architecture 

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