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Student Shows 2015: University of Edinburgh

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Lizzie Smith take a look at University of Edinburgh’s end-of-year show

The University of Edinburgh end of year architecture show forms a dramatic showpiece within the main sculpture court. Ambitious banners tower over finely crafted and sculpted ideas pieces; conceptual models and extensive metaphysical landscapes composed of hardwoods, bright sheet metals and smooth multi-coloured acrylics make an impressive spectacle. The theatre continues into the content of the work with visitors completely absorbed by these pieces of architectonic story telling, describing with great depth the aura of the places and communities they are engaging with. The Masters of Architecture MA and MArch work around four principle projects encountering very different locales; Orkney, Mumbai, Rural Finland and London’s Hackney Wick.

Explorations and provocations for Orkney describe an ‘infrastructural tapestry’,which investigates the archipelago’s potential through a variety of diverse means including tourism and energy production. A standout project is Robert Hebblethwaite and David Millar’s Churchill Engine, which explores a diversity of interventions. The detailed analysis makes a perfect case to summarise the studios aims, that of exploring the role of the architect across disciplines, and the rigour of generating ideas from spatial and physical potential, whilst making a case along political, social and economic lines.

In a similar vein to the recent explorations of research and design practice Lateral North musing on the potency of the Northern Isles, the Orkney studio has sought to articulate an existing identity and build upon a new sense of purpose, demonstrated by detailed and very believable proposals in all of the projects. Models and strategic plans show both breadth and depth and presentation fits beautifully with the aesthetic of this part real, part fantastical landscape.

The projects centred upon Mumbai were visually captivating but somewhat under explained and verging on decorative, with the narrative at times difficult to access behind intriguing but complex metaphors and lively titles. Hana Potisk’s tripartite system of exploring rituals of vulture breeding, cremation and bathing featured an evocative and memorable model of clouds.

The Rural Finland studio featured a wealth of new scenarios, some responding to an understanding of the uniqueness of Finnish-Russian relations. Proposals included a ‘Finnish Cultural Archive’, a ‘unifying and socially inclusive Canteen for Designers and Dockworkers’, and a ‘Nordic Secret Service and Data Centre’, eloquently categorised as ‘daydreams’or ‘nightmares’respectively like intermixed chapters from a Tove Jansonn novel or the latest Nordic Noir.

Lastly, the Hackney Wick studio was an exploration of thoughts, moods and the psychogeography of a neighbourhood from the perspective of the older generation.  A Sinuous Urbanism by Madden, Nasson and Hand, presented a mindful investigation of possible journeys and related emotional encounters through the borough, reflecting the tone of the topic with a sensitive and very human touch that was mirrored throughout this studio. Overall a very impressive and diverse array of work.

Lizzie Smith of Collective Architecture


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