Julian Marsh takes a look at Nottingham University’s end-of-year show
As one of the largest schools Nottingham University provides plenty to see at its student show, and because of the eclectic mix of studios, there is plenty of variety in both project type and teaching approach. It is nothing if not lively and engaging – all aspects of architecture are alive here.
Plunged straight into first year work, it is heartening to see as much emphasis placed on the experiential and contextual as on the formal and technical. A series of small skill building projects lead on to a relatively sophisticated final project exploring narrative and visual journey using challenging infill sites in Nottingham’s Lace Market.
Second and third year are run together in a mesmerising array of 10 very different vertical studios. They start the year with a combined project to establish mentoring but then run separately, often in the same context. The second-year exhibition is limited so the success of the vertical studio seems more evident in the final year. The majority of studios are concerned with some aspect of the urban condition. Those that aren’t tend to opt for often dystopic industrial edgeland and this gives a greater challenge as the context is so tenuous. The need to respond to social issues is very prevalent and although the architecture is not overtly environmental the themes and strategies behind the projects often are.
The MArch course also introduced a vertical studio this year, and it seems to have paid off, especially helping the fifth years understand the challenge of their forthcoming thesis project. Themes range from the experiential and interpretive ‘Narrative Space’, the radical re-engineering of lifestyle and social politics in ‘City Hacking’, and social concerns combined with alternative approaches to city-making in the ‘Urban Mediations’ and ‘Hyperdensity Studio’. For those with a more formalist and tectonic interest there is a studio devoted to a typological approach in ‘Sustainable Urban Building’ and one researching tectonics and form in ‘Making Architecture’.
Julian Marsh of Marsh-Grochowski