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Student shows 2014: Manchester School of Architecture

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Top ten architecture school shows: Christopher Boyce on the Manchester School of Architecture

Now settled in its new home in the Stirling-shortlisted Chatham Building by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Manchester School of Architecture’s new surrounds have certainly inspired its BA and MArch students.

‘Using Manchester as a laboratory through which to explore a city through a diverse range of agendas’ is the broad theme of the ateliers, but the emphasis is on variety. As one of the biggest schools in Europe, MSA eschews the singular line of thought in favour of allowing its students to explore their own areas of interest.

Standout unit & students

The work of the Intimate Cities atelier (MArch) is brave and building-based, working on ‘dead’ economic sites across the city, and shows why the hand-drawn idea is so compelling. The MSAp atelier (MArch), which attempts to connect architects to society, displays the bricolage of urban organic production across a city in a four-metre elevation in stark pen and ink on cartridge paper, taking the first fully hand-drawn project to distinction for 15 years.

The Re_Map atelier (MArch) is preoccupied with data, mapping, networks, representation and visualisation, and shows no prescribed style. It is multitudinous, defined by rapidity and response. David Euiton stands out for clear and accurate design description, language as fret work and unifier, and Florette Fernandez for her extraordinary square-format ‘album covers’ of acid colour that deliver a slick punch to the eye.

Florette Fernandez’s ‘album covers’

Florette Fernandez’s ‘album covers’

The work of Contested Peripheries (MArch) also stands out, embracing the idea that to build may be the end game, but to understand why or if you should defines a wider role for the profession. This unit’s studies explored economics, fracking and recycled component systems. Oh, and Havana. One project among the MA contingent, ‘Reciprocus: Make, Move, Manage’ (by Curtis Martyn, Mariam Iqbal and Haroon Noon), has won the acclaimed Think Space Award, communicating three separate ideas linked by the Manchester Ship Canal.

Among the BA ateliers MSA Praxis, which looks at community-based architecture, saw the students literally embed themselves within the district of Cheetham Hill. The unit is remarkable for its lyrical creativity, with 1:1 home layouts on the floors of their exhibition room.

Christopher Boyce, design director, Capita ESA

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