When our first year students arrive at Brighton, they bring a personal history; a wealth of experience; of being in buildings, of having lived amongst other peoples’ architectural decisions. Positive or negative these experiences have informed their understanding of the urban world, and their expectations of the built environment, and the way they will think about designing the world anew and although students’ lives have been spent amongst the constructed world it is rare for a new student to have recognised and critically considered the value of their own experience through the lens of architecture.
This is where we start, in the first term, isolating spatial experience, this year on the beach at Brighton; from Marine Drive down to the water’s edge. Students build a series of devices to focus a human sense on the surroundings, heightening or supressing the embodied experience. This project offers an introduction to design as an explorative and iterative process, we adopt a ‘fail better’ strategy – making and making again, adjusting, altering, sometimes with a specific aim, often with serendipitous discovery along the way. This ‘Experiencing Architecture’ module marks the beginning of controlling the experience available to the user of the device, choreographing their journey to the sea.
Experiencing Arch. Tutors: Elizabeth Blundell, Pedro Gil, Sophie Yetton.
The first year lays a broad foundation for the years ahead. At Brighton students are introduced to the lenses through which we read, interpret and design buildings. Through the ‘Reading Architecture’ module, students learn the language of architectural drawing and other methods of visual and verbal communication. Within the studio environment students build a community of practice, supporting and discussing each other’s projects enabling self-reflection.
Reading Arch.: Elizabeth Blundell, Kevin Widger, Sophie Yetton.
A Makers Space for Madeira Terrace
This year’s first year design modules have been set around, and within the iconic Madeira Terrace on Brighton seafront. The cast and wrought iron terrace is a 130 year old Grade ii* Listed structure, offered an ideal location at which to explore contemporary architectural concerns. The site is currently part of a regeneration project, and is of significant public interest, being the focus of a crowd funding campaign to ‘Save Madeira Terrace’ in 2017, when concerns of dilapidation beyond repair seems likely without viable funding.
The listed and therefore protected status of the structure requires careful consideration in the students’ regeneration proposals. The site is without mains power or drains and so self-sufficiency has been explored as well as micro-power generation. At the foot of the cliff wall against which Madeira Terrace stands the oldest green wall in Europe, it hosts a range of rare flora and fauna.
In a time of increasing awareness of material scarcity the design brief for a Makers Workshop took students to the beginning of a material journey. As a starting point each student selected a raw material, a subsequent making process was then identified, and spatialised; wood through to canoe making, recycled textiles through to blankets, scrap metal through to jewellery. Brighton has a thriving artistic community and the brief was grounded exploring possibilities for the city. Students visited and analysed local workshops to gain an understanding of the spatial constraints and applied this to their proposals.
We worked with a member of Brighton & Hove City Council to develop a deeper understanding of the potential of the site, and the public concerns. We had planned an exhibition with Sea Lanes on the beach so the public could see some of our first year projects, from the weird and wonderful, to the delicate and astute. Curtailed by the current health crisis a selection of this work is now shown here; both working drawings and final images are included in the slides, and more comprehensive projects of selected projects in the pdfs below.
Alongside this major design project students undertake an in depth building study; in ‘Architectural Humanities #1’ we introduce students to both the broad range of architectural movements and to specific building case studies in order to explore the way architectural history and theory connect to our built environment. Students write an essay, critique each other’s work and design a journal; historically in groups but this year individually, examples of which can be found below.
1st Year Coordinator: Elizabeth Blundell (Module Lead).
Design Tutors: Major Design Project: Max Martin, Livia Wang, Jack Wates.
Technology Tutors: Ian Bailey, Keir Black, Michael Howe (Tech. Lead).
Guest Workshops: Charlie Yetton – Film, Charlie Yetton & Gabriel Birch – Material Cubes
Architectural Humanities #1: Tilo Amhoff, Kart Beinart (Module Lead), Tony Roberts.
Many Thanks to:
Abigail Hone of Brighton & Hove City Council for your invaluable lecture on the current development of Madeira Terrace.