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Student Shows 2014: University of Strathclyde

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Paul Stallan review’s Strathclyde’s end-of-year show

Strathclyde’s Architecture Department now occupies a single level super sized floor plate within the main body of the campus having last year relocated from its original 1960’s purposed built building. The creative studio space certainly offers students a new intimacy and also a much greater connectedness to the wider university community at large having been detached previously.

The close proximity of all years looked to me to have lifted the quality of the foundation years. The 1st and 2nd year work is remarkable to the point that I couldn’t differentiate between the lower and upper school projects.

A quality and strength of the Strathclyde School is its work in Urban theory and discourse. Importantly Dr Ombretta Romice with her colleagues have built on a department legacy of commitment to urban understanding.

It is evident from the work on the walls and the published papers that it has hot housed something special. 

Student projects that caught my attention were numerous. A well-publicized lookout project by Angus Ritchie and Daniel Tyler was beautiful in its human scale and detail two students within David Page and David Reat’s Unit, Reat having won the RIAS Scottish Design Tutor Award this year. Their thesis investigated “the experience of learning, initiating real conversations with materials and a client, thereby promoting a tacit understanding”.

The executed project looks exquisite.

Another original and thought provoking fifth year thesis project called “Model Utopias” by Andrew Frame and Fraser Maitland presented a body of research based on the study of six iconic, as yet unrealised masterplans, from the Japanese Metabolists through to Lebbeus Woods. Inspired by these past visions of future cities, and concerned by the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York in 2012, the thesis concludes with the design of a seventh master plan, a vast infrastructural proposal in the lower New York Bay: a multi-national “Barrier City”.

The school has always been compared to the Mac over the years but in reality both schools have offered something different. Strathclyde was always more internally contrasting and radical, less measured and formalist like its counterpart. I would suggest both are more similar now than they have ever been.    

In a different unit another fifth year student of note was Jai Mexis whose work on slum settlement planning in Mali Africa was extraordinary, a student who I understand has secured a position with the UN to continue his work in regeneration and third world social urbanism.  

  • Paul Stallan, design director, Stallan-Brand
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