WSA students gift model to Stokes Croft community
1 September 2023
Welsh School of Architecture students gifted a model to the Stokes Croft community in Bristol as part of the 3rd year studio unit led by Professor Aseem Inam
A group model of the Stokes Croft Cultural Quarter has been gifted to the Stokes Croft Land Trust and People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, both pioneering organisations that are furthering the legacy of cultural activism in Bristol.
The model was created as part of a project under the theme of “Architecture of Urbanism: Land as Secret Weapon.”
Students conducted extensive research on land ownership, uses and values in the famed Stokes Croft area of Bristol to better understand processes of urban change, especially gentrification.
Out of this research emerged creative ideas about public-facing and community-benefitting design strategies for the future of the area, including highly innovative projects such as a women’s refugee centre, a hub for growing, selling, and cooking food, a centre for crafts and making, a combined art gallery and public toilets, a centre for digital and public art, and a drug rehabilitation centre. All these projects make multiple contributions at the site and urban scales as well as to the social and economic life of Stokes Croft.
Students enjoyed and learned a great deal from this unique studio. Hanna Austin said that “by immersing myself in the rich culture, history and urban landscape of Stokes Croft I felt a confidence and passion going into our final design project unlike any of my previous schemes.” Benji Tarver concurred, sharing that “to be able to hear first had what community and culture meant to them and how, between their own visions and my own, design can be used as a tool to construct a cultural dialogue upon the urban landscape.”
The project was widely enjoyed as a great source of personal fulfilment for the students, Naina Manglik is “proud of the design I created, which seamlessly incorporated considerations for a listed building while also addressing the community's needs and aspirations. This final project has been a transformative experience for me, and I am grateful for the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout the process.”
Projects like these demonstrate the enormous value that providing real-life and impactful work during degree studies can have, both for professional development but also for the student’s own wellbeing and sense of themselves as contributors to the wider architectural profession in their early careers.
The students and Professor Inam during a field study visit to Liverpool, where they visit leading-edge community land trusts such as Homebaked and Granby to analyse and learn from their architecture and the critical thinking behind these projects. Image: Courtesy of Paul Kelly.
The project itself also proved a milestone for Professor Aseem Inam, Chair of Urban Design at the Welsh School of Architecture, who, as a result of Professor Inam’s involvement alongside the students in helping shape the future of Stokes Croft, was elected to the Board of the Stokes Croft Land Trust in January 2023. Since then, he has been actively involved in helping design strategies for the Trust, its members, and the larger community.
In September, selected work of the students will be displayed at an exhibition in the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft building.