Paul Gray takes a look at Plymouth University’s end-of-year show
One of the overriding themes of Plymouth University’s show was the school’s commitment to live regeneration projects. The students tackled real issues by engaging with stakeholders: city councils, local community groups, non-profit organisations or local professionals. A sense of place was at the heart of the work on display with the undergraduate course focused on local regional challenges, and he final M.Arch Projects studying the complexities of the (post) socialist city of Katowice in Poland.
For me the undergraduate course stole the show. Very much a process driven course, the students are encouraged to explore the craft of architecture. The school should be praised for seeking design resolution over polished completed work and so working models and sketches give a distinctive edge. The final two years share combined units taking on a broad set of challenges across a variety of scales: from resurrecting a redundant shipyard in Polruan, Cornwall (in tandem with the client Fowey Harbour Commissioners) to the wider master planning task of reconnecting Exeter Quay with the city.
The level of competence of the final year was good and the school’s environmental and social commitment impressive. The work culminated in wonderfully individual displays for each unit, adopting various inventive techniques in presentation with the students’ genuine passion for their work shining through.
The MArch projects were solely based in Katowice, Poland and responded to the University of Silesia’s invitation to its nation’ architects ‘to support its development with ambitious, interesting projects which better integrate the campus and the city’. The students were encouraged to develop briefs to express how architecture can influence political and social change.
The stand out project was a collaboration between Elizabeth Parkinson and Ben Twells who took on the challenging programme of a biotechnology centre but it was their attention to the tectonics of the scheme that set them apart.