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Student Shows 2015: Manchester School of Architecture

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Chris Boyce takes a look at Manchester School of Architecture’s end-of-year show

Manchester School of Architecture sits at the heart of an art school and is part of one of the most advanced research University Campuses for Engineering and Physical sciences. This fact is important than perhaps any other fact in understanding why this school has such a multi-layered approach to architectural education.

The 2015 show is vibrant, reflecting the city of its making. With a few shifts in staff in early Undergraduate tutors at play, and new programmes around the use of data/analysis of the non physical context in which its students work, the whole show for 2015 has lifted again this year, with some visually and content excellent themes of exploration and development.

The first and second year show is particularly impressive with work around the themes of structures and radical environment change; physical technical and hybrid 3D printed models are on show here and used to great effect.

There is a re-emergence of hand drawing, and the use of mixed media to create collage in both three dimensions and of true architectural projection. The work of Atelier Continuity demonstrates a clear understanding of the well-balanced and thoughtful use of plan, section and the return of the axonometric.

Rebekah Parkinson and Rotislav Pazoitov show a clear return to the interpretive rebirth of post-modern composition, there are echoes of early Stirling and Loos here.

In the 5th and 6th years both Continuity and Intimate Cities Ateliers step across into the developing realm of architectural artwork representing both buildings in use, and as ‘tableau’. Some students worked in delicate hand or computer generated traditional orthographic drawings. Others produced atmospheric, carefully composed digital impressionist artwork. The passing of seasons, changes of light, and environmental condition explored in the BA work in a super shed in the courtyard as well as these atmospheric images are all part of the architects obligation to see beyond the blue sky and happy sun of the commercial CGI.

Manchester is a course with two takes on the theoretical and traditional. It is experimentation and early adoption that often marks out the work of advanced academic, intellectually challenging atelier from the layers of the RIBA approved course.

Complexity Planning and Urbanism and Re;Map both look at buildings and urbanism in context beyond that of the physical. Modelling and exploring the use of coded parametric or data informed planning tools.  Matthew Walker’s work in developing a brief analysis tool for a particular cultural building programme is impressive taking parametric into the realm of three dimensional space and volume planning offering a regulatory, hierarchical, area driven tool kit enabling physical constraint to be analysed and a physical form to be part baked ready for the architect to sculpt into final form, this is the seed of the robot in design and could be dangerous stuff!

Finally a highlight for me was the work of Re;map where the geopolitical and the social are explored in Hajir Abdlrazzak Alttahir’s fabulous factory for re-construction of monuments lost to conflict; a theme which is both current and sadly very real.

Chris Boyce, design director, Capita ESA


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