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Student Shows 2015: Newcastle University

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Will Mawson takes a look at Newcastle University’s end-of-year show

That unique scent within the department, a mixture of birch plywood and hard work, takes me instantly back to my feverish period of study at Newcastle University. As with recent years there is an orchestrated curation across the show which gives it a professional look although the students don’t appear to have had their creative wings clipped looking at the rich diversity of projects.

Collaborative working has been developed across year groups, the spirit of collaboration epitomised in another successful ‘real’ project relating to the nearby Kielder Water and Forest Park proudly displayed within the reception space of the show.

The School is evolving with more experimental and theoretical projects, underpinned by thorough research. There is still a technical and drafting bias, which is so important to potential employers, but students now encouraged to explore new creative horizons within stage 6.

Stage 6 units comprise of “Infrastructures”, “Landscapes of Human Endeavour”, “Matter” & “Strange Places”; each have distinctive formats in both approach and outcome. “Landscapes of Human Endeavour” in particular has produced an intense array of visual installations. My pick of these was Alecia Berkin’s homage to T.E.Lawrence, which takes the form of a fantastical journey inside the mind of the man with meticulously composed visuals blurring real and staged versions of Lawrence within a small intricately constructed room.

Within “Matter & Strange Places” students focused research on a material prior to defining the application. Rob Arthur’s use of bio-illuminating algae to assist lighting an Arctic Norwegian island is well resolved and visually impressive.

The undergraduate exhibition is quite heavily edited although plenty to see. The Light Institute unit has a number of sensitive responses and a good array of models showing that tried and tested skills are still relevant. It is worth mentioning the general high standard of the work on show. Communication has an elevated significance in all architectural schools and the evidence is that Newcastle is raising their bar.

Anyway don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself - http://ncldegreeshow15.co.uk/

Will Mawson of MawsonKerr Architects


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