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Tuesday29 July 2014

Class of 2012: Graduates face up to the future

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Six winners shone through the trend for desolation in BD’s awards for the UK’s best diploma students

From augmented distilleries to memory archives, crematoriums to insect-breeding towers, this year’s diploma projects provided a diverse range of hybrid typologies and speculative visions.

BD received 25 entries from across the UK, from which the six students here were selected for the Class of 2012. The jury comprised a range of architects, academics and critics: Cany Ash, director of Ash Sakula; Peter Carl, professor at London Metropolitan University; Kester Rattenbury, tutor and reader at the University of Westminster; and Juan Lago-Novás Domingo, director of the master’s in Architectural Management and Design IE School of Architecture in Madrid. They were also assisted by the wise murmurs and decisive gestures of one-year-old Alfrey Rattenbury.

“Monuments to scarcity” were the order of the day, with many students tackling important environmental issues in the form of vast megastructures — muscular towers and kinetic groundscrapers dressed in a theatrical rhetoric of encroaching doom.

“This cross-section of the country’s schools results in a curious picture of introverted obsession and loneliness, inevitably defaulting to an aesthetic of steampunk,” said Carl. There was a distinct trend for forlorn contraptions in sprawling landscapes, with very little sign of occupation by people, or indeed wider social and political issues at all, with a widespread disconnect between the premise and proposition.

“There seems to be precious little interest in human habitation,” noted Ash. “Where are the signs of life and vibrancy?”

The judges agreed there was no dearth of talent or competence, but that many projects veered towards “parametric masturbation”, with rendering skills “deployed primarily on behalf of form, giving the usual exchange between complex form and simple life”, as Carl put it.

The six schemes presented on these pages stood out for their individual approaches and the rigour with which the initial ideas had been executed in the resulting propositions.

Here are the students selected for 2012:

Emma Flynn, Bartlett, UCL
Adam Willis, London Metropolitan University
Daniel Hanna, Liverpool John Moores
Luke Snow, De Montfort University
Nina Shen-Poblete, University of Westminster
Calum Paterson, Robert Gordon University

IE School logo

IE CLASS OF 2012 SCHOLARSHIP
The six chosen graduates will be invited to compete for a fully funded year-long scholarship for a master’s business programme at the IE School of Architecture & Design in Madrid. The winner will be announced at the Architect of the Year Awards on December 4 at The Brewery, London. For more information, go to http://mamd.blogs.ie.edu

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I notice that you visited and reviewed Sheffield Hallam's exhibition, yet failed to review the University of Sheffield's exhibition this year, or last. Any reason for this? If you had have done, you would have definitely seen less of the "trend for forlorn contraptions in sprawling landscapes" and far more signs of "occupation by people" and indeed "wider social and political issues".

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  • Hi Marianne,
    The gallery we ran on Sheffield Hallam this year and last year was with images and text provided by students and course leaders. We invite all architecture courses to submit work for the student shows galleries and it's up to them to respond. If you are a student at Sheffield University, please tell a course representative to get in touch with us if you would like to see a gallery of work from the show on bdonline.
    Anna Winston,
    Online editor

  • I like Calum Paterson's spooky barns - nice

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