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Student Shows 2014: Sheffield Hallam

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Paul Gray reviews Sheffield Hallam’s end-of-year show

There have been increasing calls for architectural education in the UK to be overhauled; the duration of qualification is a recurring theme and one concern is how we relieve the burden of debt facing our graduates.The MArch course at Sheffield Hallam offers an important alternative route to qualification with this year’s group of ten students achieving Part 2 qualification over three years, allowing students to earn a living and to study. Those completing their final year had bold, ambitious and detailed briefs, which included ‘The Theatre for Social Change’; ‘On the edge of an experiential foreshore’ and ‘The Liberation of London’s Social Economy’.Sadly the schemes themselves failed to live up these expectations, lacking the layers of complexity one expects of a thesis project.

This arises perhaps from the reduced time invested comparable to full time students or perhaps the smaller year numbers and structure doesn’t breed a culture of design excellence as well as it could. If the students however are learning the myriad of other skills required of today’s architect in a supportive workplace, whose to say it isn’t a credible alternative?

Overall, the curatorship of the exhibition is well organised, compact and personal, and comes across as a student-led collaboration.

Standout unit & student

The third-year degree projects are excellent, as students exhibit intriguing architectural engagements within the context of the city responding to the brief the The City Room. This results in comprehensive enquiries, in-depth research and pragmatic resolutions with a clear social agenda. Third Year Joshua Hobson’s mature design and elegantly presented scheme with a series of seductive perspectives responds best to the thought provoking brief.

  • Paul Gray visiting design tutor, Nottingham University
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