Saturday05 September 2015

Stefan Vara - Kent School of Architecture

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Student statement

Minor Design Project: Music School

The project was to design a high-quality venue for Kent University’s music department on campus grounds. The building accommodates a series of rehearsal spaces, offices, a gallery and a concert hall. The buildings main purpose is to serve students and staff but also to function as a venue for visiting world-class artists. 

The project was inspired and dictated by a drawing hand drawn during a university bands rehearsal session. The drawing was a motif of flying leafs escaping from a flower. The flower and the leafs formed interesting voids and sections which could be translated into 3 dimensional spaces.

The original drawing was cropped into an even square with specific dimensions dictated by the site and the required program. The flower in the drawing was used as the centre point to dictate the rest of the plan. All the spaces within the building were derived from the original drawing either by extruding one leaf or a combination of several leafs. The extruded leafs formed a series of pods that became offices, circulation cores, structural or walls for the auditorium.

Tutor Statement

It is a pleasure to nominate Stafan Vara for the BD Class 2010. The very fact that Stefan is a candidate was far from predictable. Stefan is a text-book perfectionist. Highly talented, obsessive and detail focussed, with standards so high as to be unobtainable. The non-virtuous cycle that ensues means an opportunity to see flashes of this brilliance are often self-censored. To be able to enjoy and nominate the great work that for the most part has prevailed is doubly pleasurable.

Stefan’s submission includes two projects. In his final year for his ‘Major Design Project’ Stefan’s Wooden Boat Education Centre occupies a difficult site in Margate’s Town Centre, on the site of an empty department store. Bordering a major civic square to the east and the High Street to the west the site falls through several ‘back-lots’ towards New Street and the Old Town beyond.

The scheme is driven by pedagogy and tectonics. Capitalising on potential skill-sets from locally housed economic migrants in local Cliftonville, the largely wooden Education Centre offers scholarships to local youths to develop skills as boat-builders. The tangible output is constructed in a ‘practice workshop’ which fronts a public space. This is incised into the ‘theory tower’ which rises above, views from which complete the connection to the Sea, from a land-locked site. The logistical resolution of the implied conflict is a celebrated graduation parade of each year’s fleet of student-built boats down the High Street to the Harbour as a beacon of Margate’s renewed vows in its marriage to the Sea.

Stefan’s Stage 4 ‘Minor Design Project’ was a Music Centre for the University. A process-design evolved from the intuitive graphical recording of a performance of live music. A complex and conflicting program inhabits a necessarily ‘object-building’ comprised of a floating storey of practice rooms reached through the capillaries of a sound map, whilst below a minimalist Foyer mediates between inside and outside and the auditorium below.

These are two very accomplished and referenced pieces of design work and we commend them to the BD Class 2010 Jury.


Nick Brown, Tim Carlyle, Gordana Korolija Fontana-Giusti, Michael Richards, Thomas Wensing


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