Anderson Inge. AlA. ARBS. Charrette Coordinator
Photographer Valerie Bennett
One of the highlights of the AlA UK events calendar is the Annual Student Design Charrette, which took place this year on Saturday, 18 October at the Architectural Association. The Charrette is a lively opportunity for students to limber-up their design skills early in the academic year.
Mentored by architects, students work collaboratively for the day to develop and present a winning design. Students are encouraged to join with others from their school or University to compete against other institutions. This year's event attracted 50 students representing eight different universities or practices from across the UK. Wales and Scotland: Cardiff University's Welsh School of Architecture; University of Kent School of Architecture; Architectural Association; Liverpool John Moores University; Newcastle University: University of Edinburgh; Cambridge; the Mackintosh School; and the 5th Studio Architecture practice.
The theme for the Charrette this year was 'Re-thinking the Museum' for the 21st Century and the site was the former Post Office sorting office facility in Holborn.
Kevin Flanagan introduced the Brief and primed their thinking with a powerpoint presentation offering different takes on the role of the museum past and future. The brief called for a range of uses, including: 'open storage' of museum artifacts, a speakers' corner for debate, viewable artist studios, travelling exhibitions, various education and lecture spaces, amenities such as restaurants and shops and a significant percentage of residential units to balance the budget.
In addition to Kevin's introduction, the Charrette benefited from an additional presentation by Neil Cooke who is a Vice President and Head of Conservation at HOK Architects. As part of the kick-off, Neil gave an exciting presentation about some of the many museum projects he has been involved with, such as the Darwin Centres at the Natural History Museum, the Ministry of Defense restoration, as well as the shelved British Museum Annex project.
As in the past two years, this Charrette was again a CAD-free event. Design and presentation in Schools now is dominated by technology, but in a one-day event this can disastrously interrupt the dialogue needed for collaborative work. Students seem to have unanimously embraced the spirit of this for the recent Charrettes.
Paul Finch OBE, Editor of the Architectural Review, once again Chaired the Charrette Jury. Co-Jurors with Paul were Neil Cooke of HOK Architects, and Holly Porter, Founding Director of Surface to Air Architects. The Jury did a brilliant job of complementing the student presentations with lively and generous critique that had broad perspective, insight, enthusiasm and humour. The Jury particularly praised the students' extraordinary quantity of work, as well as their many creative ideas.
The Jury awarded First Prize to the table from Cardiff University - Welsh School of Architecture. Their presentation contained a striking and effective range of images, including some evocative watercolors, line perspective renderings and physical model. Their scheme embodied some compelling ideas for moving the public up and through the open storage collections to be housed in the Annex.
Second Place went to a table made up students from the Architectural Association's Intermediate Unit 5. This group gave a strong presentation of huge, suggestive photo-overlays and a remarkably well-developed model of their novel proposal for interior public circulation that blended stepped seating with areas for aggregation and public presentations.
Third Place was awarded to a group from the University of Kent School of Architecture.
The AlA UK extends a huge thanks to Steve Jolly and the entire CallPrint reprographics team, who made this unusual event something truly special. For more than a decade now, CallPrint has been an annual sponsor of the Chapter, and they have additionally supported the participating students with reprographics-on-demand throughout the long day. The students' enjoyment of the event and the quality of their work are dramatically increased by this unique, professional-level support. We also extend our sincere graditude to the Architectural Association for making its Main Lecture Hall available for this event.