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Student Shows 2015: University of Strathclyde

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Alan Dunlop takes a look at University of Strathclyde’s end-of-year show

The last couple of years may have been difficult for Strathclyde, with the loss of a few key staff and the shift from the Fielden building.

However, the output in all studios seems stronger than ever. If architectural education is a dialogue between the practical needs of the profession and the high levels of critical engagement required by university, then Strathclyde has the balance right. Peter Welsh leads an undergraduate course, which tackles contemporary issues in architecture through projects, which are conceptually strong but display an impressive technical skill.

The fourth year postgraduate course, directed by David Reat, successfully marks the transition between undergraduate teaching and the award of Master of Architecture. Students are encouraged to develop their “personality and individuality” and explore what it is to be an architect. Projects set in urban parkland, then for a Hospice and Bath House in Park Circus, Glasgow are an increase in complexity and scale but remain technically strong and grounded in a thorough analysis of context, urban from and study of place and materiality. Ryan Canning’s Kelvinbridge Vaults and Lewis Allan McNeil’s Bath House are particularly good.

The final year programme is run by Ulrike Enslein to “stimulate and provoke debate” and sets as its “Meta Theme” Daniel Burnam’s “Make No Little Plans”. The five teaching units focus on Health and Space; Culture and Place; Environment and Radical; Community and Live Projects and Future Cities. Sadly, there are few hand drawings on show but this is countered by excellent models, particularly by Steven Leask and Andy McAvoy’s Hydrogen Energy Network in Stornoway.

Although the school is strong technically, it is “Consolations of the Landscape” and the deeply moving and thought provoking work of Christine Halliday that is the standout project. The project investigates the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland and explores an architectural landscape that was masculine, patriarchal and isolated women. Her work and presentation is, frankly, stunning.    

Alan Dunlop of Alan Dunlop Architect

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