Je Ahn and Natalie Simmons review Kingston’s end-of-year show
This year, the Kingston Architecture and Landscape school concludes a body of research. The show has a clear air of presentation and the collective telling of a story: a four-year school-wide research project into sites governed by UNESCO World Heritage. Using the university system for a body of research, as a school of architecture, could foster the sense of a shared goal beyond academia. It is a wonderful thing to build on if this in-depth and considered work can become a truly useful tool for the students’ own research agendas, as well as their tutors and school.
This focus on making a cohesive body of work seems as important for individual units as it does for the school. The of show’s organisation is not rigidly split into undergraduate and postgraduate sections, but rather linked to similar themes and topics of conversation. Many of the research agendas were based on diverse real-life parameters; two diploma units in particular looked at the archive of Alvaro Siza and the buildings of the Peabody Trust. The sense of fostering a shared goal results in a handsome and coherent exhibition. I hope that this way of thinking does not enforce too much convergence on the students with agendas slightly different to their units, so that they don’t feel like they already know where they will end up before even starting the journey. One of the beauties of student projects is that you never know beforehand where they will take you.
And this application within the real world is where one of the school’s obvious strengths really shines through. There is a clear focus, especially in the undergraduate studios, on making at real-scale. Some excellent first-year projects made out of everyday materials show how simple clear ideas about space and intent can be translated into something wonderful, without the aid of final plaster-meets-wood models. Here they are getting down and dirty, chancing on unexpected consequences, relinquishing control and allowing one’s mind to wander.
Je Ahn and Natalie Simmons, Studio Weave