The Lincoln School of Architecture has quietly consolidated its position as an important design school in the Midlands, writes Soumyen Bandyopadhyay
Review of Lincoln School of Architecture Exhibition
22 June – 3 July
Over the past few years the Lincoln School of Architecture has quietly consolidated its position as an important design school in the Midlands. That architecture sits amidst other design disciplines (Design for Exhibitions and Museums and Interior Design), underpinned by a strong desire to integrate technology and to prepare students for the wider realms of practice, could only be seen as a positive attribute of the School. However, where it perhaps distinguishes itself most from other schools of architecture is through its overt desire to raise awareness of the ethical dimensions of architecture amidst growing concerns regarding socio-cultural and environmental change.
The BA (Hons) in Architecture programme exhibited the work of a large cohort of Year 3 students, a phenomenon so familiar to schools that it no longer grabs the headlines. Divided into seven ‘units’ this work understandably occupied most of the Rick Mather-designed spatially disjointed building. This spatially fragmented display reflected the divergent nature of the units’ works. The units’ preoccupations ranged from sensitive interpretation of key environmental issues – both poetically and scientifically driven, to exploration of the relationship between form and movement, to investigation of prevailing social issues and urban concerns, to processual architecture.
It is in the latter that one notices some of the most prolific production of artifacts and images – some evidently very professionally handled and seductive. Thomas Woodcock’s ‘Printing press’ and Richard Wood’s ‘Repository for ordinary artefacts in a shifting landscape’ stand out in this group. Yet, therein lies a danger; one wonders if process-driven architecture, without a continual commitment to understanding inhabitation, might rerun the familiar footage of vacuous architectural production. Richard Barber’s school of cinematography, Christopher Allwood’s interest in the left-over spaces around the disused viaduct in Nottingham, Andrew Taberner’s railway station, Kuljeet Sibia’s urban intervention, Joseph Millar’s ‘Rowing club’ and Liam Brewer’s intervention in Lincoln, are examples of the diversity of distinguished student work.
The relatively small BArch (Part 2) cohort work on display of student-led thesis projects left one unsure if the thrust of the graduate work lay in complex thematic exploration, image production or exploring technological expression. Andrew McDowall’s cultural and civic quarter in Lincoln, Adrian Gamble’s exceptionally well-crafted models, Robert Burr’s auditorium in Sheffield and Rosie Saunders’ evocative treatment of the ‘inhabited wall’ addressing war and politics in Palestine, were distinctive and engaging. Perhaps in managing such diversity and in understanding and upholding the common principles that underlie morality in the work of the units, lies the opportunity to fulfil the desire to address the ethical dimension of architecture.
Soumyen Bandyopadhyay is Professor in Architecture and Design at Nottingham Trent University