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Student Shows 2015: University of Huddersfield

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Philip Bintliff takes a look at the University of Huddersfield’s end-of-year show

I parked up and walked to Huddersfield’s town-centre campus – a short stroll along the canal to a mix of converted mills with some old and some new education buildings. The degree shows are a campus-wide event so, map on phone, I went to find Quayside the location of the architecture degree show. 

No sign of Quayside; I persevered. By chance I came across a mini-exhibition in the Creative Arts building, where a model caught my attention. No 3D printing, this model was a hand-made cast concrete block. Daniel Higham’s Memorial Museum project was last year’s President’s Medal contender. A lucky find. 

Re-invigorated, I set off again for Quayside. After an hour I reluctantly gave up, went to reception and waited for a campus guide – which explained a lot – he then guided me to Heritage Quay – which explained even more. 

The exhibition space in the lowest level of Heritage Quay was somewhat daunting – stuffed, probably overstuffed, with material. Everyone appreciates the chance to display their work but a little judicious curating would have helped visitors. There’s perhaps an expectation that visitors will persevere to find the good stuff.

There were interesting studies of York and Cork and a more adventurous – or better-funded – group had been to China.  A display of models reminded me of those sculptural Venice Beach lifeguard towers:  All interesting and skillfully well-made 3D studies. 

I went round the exhibition again to see if more emerged from the visual noise.  I took a closer look at a scheme for a Gin Distillery, which caught my eye – don’t recall seeing one of those before. Of all places it was designed for a site I know in Hebden Bridge. My visit was rewarded nearby with what became my favourite piece – Ramblers Retreat, by Jonathan N Pateman, for the same Hebden Bridge site:  a good idea very nicely drawn. There was enough technical information for it to be a convincing and restrained, atmospheric evocation of the site: very accomplished and my ‘best in show’. 

I’d arrived hopeful, got lost, left happy – a rollercoaster. Until next year. 

Philip Bintliff of StudioBAAD


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