Travelling for Study

Travel is a very important part of architectural education. Each year at Architecture School you will most likely be given the opportunity to undertake a study trip either in the UK or abroad. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to visit places with peers interested in architecture. You start to look at the built environment in a different way. During my part I I got the opportunity to visit: Paris, Amsterdam, Lincoln, Orvieto and Rome.

On these study trips we were taught how to analysis and record the city and also how to correctly undertake a site survey.

What to bring:

  • Camera
  • Camera charger
  • Sketchbook
  • Pencil wrap with an abundance of pens and pencils
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Map of the area
  • Tracing paper (to trace information over the map)
  • Travel Guide
  • List of places of interest

What should I be looking at?

  • Look up
  • Circulation
  • Pedestrian and transport routes
  • Massing
  • Boundaries
  • Forms
  • Symbolism
  • Main routes
  • Interesting details

Overall, when designing in an area it is important to look at the wider context. There is plenty to learn from in the abundance of cities around the world.

(post in progress)

Sensing Spaces

The Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-imagined Exhibition was run by the Royal Academy of Arts from the 25th January – 6th April 2014. The event called for seven architects to reawaken the city’s relationship to architecture by showcasing the importance of the role it plays on our everyday emotions. The participating architects: Grafton Architects Diébédo Francis KéréSensing-Spaces1 (1) Kengo Kuma Li Xiaodong Pezo von Ellrichshausen Álvaro Siza Eduardo Souto de Moura The goal of the exhibition was to evoke different emotions from the visitors and ultimately change the way the city engages with architecture. The collective architects were given 23,000 square feet and 72 days to complete a breathtaking large scale installation. Whilst visiting I found myself not just viewing the designs but how different groups of people were reacting to them. The designs were highly interactive allowing visitors to touch, climb, sit walk and play within the space. The chosen materials varied considerably between installations, allowing for human response to be changed through sight, scent, sound and touch. The different materials and shapes caused opposing behaviors and where some designs created a tranquil atmosphere others encouraged noise and play. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this exhibition. After seeing how a variety of materials, shapes and lighting can affect the human emotion so considerably, I have taken away the understanding of how crucial these factors are in producing good design. Further Reading:

(Post in progress)

“In a city the atmosphere is all around you and is ever changing. New things will become old things, so the idea of continuity is very real. Time is a great architect.” – Alvaro Siza

30 day challenges!

It’s that time again…The start of a new year. After reading a couple of books regarding self improvement I came across the concept of 30 day challenges. In particular, I read ‘Challenge yourself I dare you: 30 day challenges’ by Stuart Ralph. ( He looked in depth at the idea of setting yourself a goal for a shorter period of time – to ease the commitments and the potential risk of failure. I have used this concept as one of my ‘New Years Resolutions’ for 2015. This resolution will be versatile enough to dedicate as much time as I wish to it, depending on other commitments.

Another place in which this idea is discussed which you may find of use is Steve Pavlinas’ blog: Steve describes it as ‘A powerful personal growth tool… a concept borrowed from the shareware industry, where you can download a trial version of a piece of software and try it out risk-free for 30 days before you’re required to buy the full version. It’s also a great way to develop new habits, and best of all, it’s brain-dead simple.’ Also, on his blog are plenty of suggestions to get you inspired!

Towards the end of 2014, I began brainstorming some ideas as to what 30 day challenges could benefit me and other architecture students alike. I have tried to include a range of goals that will help to develop aspects of architecture.

  • Sketch every day for a month.
  • Learn a new building material a day.
  • Write a new blog entry.
  • Take a photograph a day.
  • Do 30 minutes – 1 hour of 3D modelling.
  • Write an extract in your journal.
  • Meditate.
  • 10 minute life drawing exercise.
  • 30 artistic performances in 30 days.
  • Learn a new vocabulary word every day.
  • Write about 30 pieces of Art.
  • Go for a long walk every day.
  • Read for an hour day on a subject that interests you.
  • Write a 500 word reflection.

I hope to look at a range of challenges across: professional practice, technology, design and History topics within architecture. Pease feel free to post a comment and share your goals for the next 30 days if you decide to give 30 day challenges a try. I am hoping these will be a much more achievable way to complete the goals set for the new year.

A trip up North…..

I recently embarked on a journey up North to visit a very close friend and fellow architecture student.

I visited her in her home county of Cumbria – situated on the Scottish Borders. Not having travelled this far North before, I prepared to wrap up warm. Cumbria offered an array of historical and modern architecture, different but equally as impressive. Armed with my phone I was able to snap a few photographs of some of the local buildings dotted around the Lake District.

On my travels, I came across this building.

Theatre by the Lakes, Keswick.

Theatre by the Lakes, Keswick.

The Theatre was built in 1999 and is considered the most remote of its’ kind in Britain. It is situated on the beautiful shores of Derwentwater and is worth £6.5 million. Unfortunately, I didn’t get chance to see the interior but the building has an intriguing exterior – made up of a variety of different cladding materials.

The Rheged Centre, Penrith.

The Rheged Centre, Penrith.

Later I happened upon the Rheged Centre which is Britain’s largest grass covered building. It is also Cumbria’s biggest tourist attraction and can support up to 300 visitors. It’s modern interior is surprisingly flooded with light for a building clouded by the landscape.

Lowther Castle, Cumbria.

Lowther Castle, Cumbria.

The Lowther Castle (set in 3000 acres) is currently undergoing restoration work to its north facade and terrace.  It was designed by Robert Smirke and was built between 1806 and 1814 – the height of the romantic movement. Closed in 1937, the building has been deteriorating for many years and the central tower is close to collapse. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel for this beautiful piece of gothic revival architecture, as it has been awarded £65,000 for emergency repair by English Heritage.

Cumbria has a beautiful landscape with a calming atmosphere. The vast mountainous views and lakes made me appreciate the areas natural beauty and made a great backdrop for the architecture. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and hope to return in the near future.