12 June 2011
by Lauren McKirdy
And so it begins. Over the next month or so, university campuses all over the UK will transform into a flurry of excitement as graduates of 2011 showcase their achievements and prepare for life in the working world.
Brighton is one of the earlier shows and one very dear to my heart as it is where I studied for my undergraduate degree in architecture. It was a treat to have the afternoon to myself walking through familiar halls, discovering unfamiliar faces and an array of new talent.
Architecture at Brighton has been shown for many years in the theatre at the back of the Grand Parade campus. The architecture department’s home is at the, not so central, Mithras House and since 2008, the architecture show has been pushed out of the theatre and into the open space in the middle of campus. Last year's show was held in a marquee which I think it is fair to say everyone was firmly disappointed with. So this year the design tutors of the architecture department took the opportunity to do something a little different, and house the show in their own summer pavilion.
The Architecture School as worked closely with architect, Duncan Baker-Brown for a number of years now and this year, the summer pavilion came as a direct response to Baker-Brown’s design for ‘The House that Kevin Built’ in 2008.
The pavilion is constructed from a number of walls, each using a different sustainable technology such as the 22 ton chalk wall, or the stacked timber walls made from shuttering ply. The walls support a series of timber joists and a rather crude polythene membrane to keep the site weather proof. The result is a winding space of intriguing textures and materiality and a pavilion that houses its contents, the students work, narrowly but well. The whole pavilion has been sourced from reclaimed and local materials and will be donated into various other programmes post graduate show.
This year the architecture postgraduates impressed with some exciting schemes for Brixton. A loose brief encouraged students to deal with the – not so underground – drug and vice problems in the area. This prompted research into the fabric of the area, looking at the musical scene and the multi-culture of Brixton and the state of the estates and built environment.
Robin Foote developed a scheme Brixton’s Operatic Society examining architecture for social performance, while Matthew Bibbey’s Cycle Superhighway looks at how we can navigate and experience our Cities. Matthew’s scheme is a development on Boris Johnson's Cycle Superhighways, elevating the routes and spilling out into all major transport links to the inner City, with his proposed project being the transport hub for Brixton. The overall project aims to promote cycling and pushes for a safer and more sustainable approach to travel in the City.
It was good to see a range of work that visitors can relate to, and as always the postgraduates seemed to have a better hold on presentation than many of the undergraduate, or very abstracted interior architecture, projects.
The Graphics and Illustration show at Brighton has always been strong. I was happy to see that a certain font ‘trend’ I spied a few years ago seems to have fizzled out and the work is more varied and individual.
Hyerim Lee tackles social and political content in his work creating a series of signs that highlight the division between North and South Korea. Hyerim’s postcard series for the 50th anniversary of the falling of Berlin Wall, gave short descriptions commemorating those who died fighting for their freedom and celebrating their lives.
Tessa Lyons, Large Scale Landscapes are moving and absorb you into them to the point that you forget there is other work in the room. Tessa’s work doesn’t just stand out because it is beautiful but also because it is so very different from any of the other illustration work at Brighton. Her subject of natural landscapes and her medium of charcoal produce images that are closer to fine art than the rest of the department’s work.
Mark Matcham seems to dabble in a little of everything, his work ranges from print to installations to furniture making all of which are executed with humour and ease. The Future of Crufts brought a smile to my face, examining how the most popular pure breed dogs may look in the future and the beginnings of a typographical furniture range look fairly successful as a flat pack series of lettered stools. Have a look at Mark’s website to see his lift installation videos designed for the show.