Ed Park reviews the Leeds Beckett School of Art, Architecture and Design’s end of year show
I arrived at the opening night of the exhibition with great anticipation and excitement. The studio was crowded and the hipster DJ had the evening in full swing – quite a departure from my end-of-year show many years earlier. I immediately felt part of the scene.
My initial thoughts as I drifted around the space were that this was a complex exhibition with a riot of information, some of which was presented in ever more confusing ways. However, what was apparent throughout the work was that theoretical and social agendas dominated the schemes. Whether these were believable or not is another question.
As a spectacle, the opening night was a delight – a party – but not the correct environment for a thorough analysis of the intricate work. If this was to be your only visit to the show you could be excused for feeling confused.
I wanted to know more so made a second visit to the show and asked a couple of the university’s lecturers to attend. They gave me an overview of each unit and their individual themes. Naturally each has a different approach to exploring architecture but the quality is still maintained. We discussed some of the students work in greater detail in order to understand the detailed presentation images. What became clear was the depth of portfolio investigation carried out by the students, notably Amirreza Gostaryfard and his linear city (for which he received a distinction). The quality of work as a whole was far stronger than in recent years, for which the university should be commended.
Overall the school is teaching good, solid skills and offering a rounded education. Starting in the first year where students are exploring 2D/3D spaces and learning to create measured drawings by hand, to the complex parametric forms and models being developed in Keith Andrews’ MArch unit. Students also have the opportunity to work on live projects with real clients through the in-house Project Office, enabling the transition from education to employment to be far smoother.
Note to anyone visiting in the future: don’t judge a book by its cover.
Ed Park, founder, Park Designed