Having compiled the list of 2013 summer shows at British and Irish schools of architecture, it was time to try and catch some of them. I’ll be heading to London in the next few weeks to see the work on show at some of the schools there, but where else could I start but my own alma mater, the University of Sheffield School of Architecture.
What I won’t be doing is reviewing these shows. In compiling listings for my students and anyone who reads this blog, my intention is to encourage you to plan ahead and make time to explore these exhibitions, some of which last just a few days. As someone who is involved in the delivery of architectural education, I’m also vociferous in my belief that you cannot judge a course or an institution based on an exhibition. I’m torn between recognising process and recognising product. I want students to exercise critical thinking and critical design muscles that will get stronger and more agile in professional practice. While design is all about the product, as a pedagogue it can be problematic to fixate on finished outcome without an appreciation of how the student got there.
To that end, it is extremely encouraging to see that the strongest students are now moving beyond laser cutting and 3D printing as a means to manufacture a model with a single click of a mouse. While the burnt edges and faintly charred smell of laser cut models are already boring, these techniques and materials are capable of supporting both sophisticated design and legible craft. The best drawings and models on show in Sheffield impress not because of their showiness, but because of their description of the form, function and construction of architecture.
That said, just FYI kids, we were applying the Photoshop “flocks of birds” filter in 2007. It’s not cool and it’s not clever anymore.
You can see many more photographs over on my Flickr pages (sorry about how shit Flickr has become, don’t blame me, I’m just a longstanding paying customer whose opinions Flickr choose to ignore). To conclude, and to emphasise just why Sheffield has such a high reputation in academia and practice, some photographs of the models and drawings on show in the second year.
That’s right. The second year.
We weren’t that good in 2003…
Updated 22:00 Sunday: those are second year projects, not first year; the post has been corrected. Thanks Paul!
The University of Sheffield School of Architecture’s summer show runs until 12 July, and is open Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00 and Saturday 09:00-12:00.