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University for the Creative Arts – Canterbury Campus

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Small (and interdisciplinary) is beautiful at University Creative Arts

University for the Creative Arts – Canterbury Campus 5 – 11 June

UCA Canterbury was re-launched under Head of School Oren Lieberman in 2006, and consciously set out on a more continental approach than typical provincial schools. Current numbers are set at around 170 in the lower school, 55 in the upper school – a relatively intimate scale. 

Year 3’s Adrian Lombardo’s Bat City, Warsaw

Staff student ratio is good (17.5:1). Courses include Architecture, Interior Architecture with Design, and two MAs, (in Spatial Practices: Art, Architecture, and Performance, and Digital Ekistics: Virtual Settlements.)

Year One’s Kyveli Anasasiadi’s Pilgrim habitat

Lieberman explains that the school focuses on architecture as process and dialogue. The upper school focuses on the interaction between research, design and practice;  internal and external interactivity is a keynote throughout the school. Stage One students go through sensory games reminiscent of Expressionist theatre, leading into two very lively furniture and pod habitat projects designed to be installed on public areas round Canterbury, required to have dual functionality – private and public. Reactions and effectiveness are tracked as part of a fascinating and praise-worthy attempt to investigate architecture as public performance.

Isi Etomi’s Lagos Market scene

User-charettes also feature in other years, testing the results of multilayered theoretical design approaches against vox pop reactions. Brave stuff! One fifth year project on Lagos shanty town reconstruction has the prospect of feeding into the local regeneration process.

I felt that because projects are generally located in large complex sites, to some extent project boundaries got swamped by the contextualisation. Some third year modular housing projects, for all their brilliant suggestivity, displayed longeurs when the details were examined, which were in slightly short supply across the show, as were internal building studies.

 However, the edited student work displays generally masterly urban design, graphic and multi-media skills. Most memorable projects –  Adrian Lombardo’s subterranean bat city in Warsaw (Year 3) , and an inhabited gridshell skin over a future Essex desert (Year 5). All in all, a well presented, refreshing and bold display of talent.

Small (and interdisciplinary) is beautiful at University Creative Arts

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