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Student Shows 2014: Royal College of Art

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Je Ahn reviews the RCA’s end-of-year show

This year’s RCA Architecture Annual is full of everything: social activism, contemporary politics, fictional worlds born of wild imaginations, Utopias, Dystopias, algorithm-driven form-makings, seductive images, expensive-looking models and the obligatory gory animal slaughter. Superficially, all this is easily critiqueable, but on delving deeper, you soon realise the ambitious scale and depth of the projects. What really impressed me was the diversity and extent of the enquiries.

The exhibition is not organised into studios and it seems fitting to let each project stand alone, given how far every student seems to have progressed from their tutor’s initial topics. Moreover the students’ enjoyment of their time at the RCA is tangible; the time they have spent exploring and discovering their own critical agendas. I didn’t get the feeling – as I often do at end-of-year shows – of tutors breathing down their students’ necks, homogenising the output into a collective oeuvre.

The RCA’s head of programme, Charles Walker puts it perfectly in his foreword: ‘One size doesn’t fit all.’

While I congratulate the students on brilliant work, a niggling part of me hopes that they’ve maintained a balanced outlook towards the real-world application of their attitudes and ideas. I hope that our environment will be able to benefit from the wonderful worlds inside their minds.

  • Je Ahn, director, Studio Weave


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