Cardiff University’s satellite architecture show in Shoreditch combines a deep sense of craft with meticulous research
The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) commands a long-standing reputation for the quality and rigour of its graduate school. This year the WSA’s London-based exhibition reflects the school’s pedagogy and architectural proposition – craft, iterative design and careful consideration mark a curated selection of thesis projects, which together form a beguiling showcase of work from across the border.
A democratic approach to design is a key tenet of the WSA’s architectural education and the exhibition responds to this in its curatorial organisation. Students have selected a thesis unit from a number of options, developing an individual brief around their own interests and research.
The school places a critical emphasis on the value of making, contributing to the architectural resolution of its graduates’ work. Throughout the undergraduate degree students explore tectonic armatures for architecture which confront social, political and economic contexts with site-specific interventions developed to a construction level.
Showing five units’ work, the exhibition will deal with multiple themes:
- Tectonics, Form and Place – cultivating a critical stance towards a given material and its extraction and processing. Each student’s proposal is developed from intricate detailed studies and develops a dialogue with the chosen material through its site.
- Economy: Port City – taking a rigorous sociological approach to design development, students worked within the constraints of a local Cardiff landmark that has been declared structurally unsafe, and looked at ways in which architecture and programme could provide a more resilient future for the building and its surrounding context. Projects focused on providing for the local community through incremental restoration and a rich narrative.
- Space, Movement and Illusion – students selected their own briefs and sites, however the whole thesis was underpinned with a focus on evoking sensation in the user of the proposal through developing an understanding of ‘habitus’ and challenging these assumptions.
- Coast: Weather – building on the Welsh School of Architecture’s research base, projects are constrained by being located on the coast, and must then deal with the constructional and environmental difficulties this presents in order to find poetry through context.
- Infrastructural Urbanism – this theme asks students to propose a masterplan-scale proposal, informed by an understanding of how institutions can be used to effect a positive change within an entrenched social and economic system. Each proposal here aims to tackle the globalisation and elitism that currently plague the Principality of Monaco.
Each of these five units tackles key issues such as sustainable construction, the importance of brownfield regeneration, the user’s experience, the effects of environmental change, and dealing with density and globalisation. Any critical understanding of contemporary architecture must address these issues and the Cardiff Degree Show at Hoxton Arches begins to suggest solutions to these questions through the exhibition of innovative holistic proposals to a range of unique scenarios. The work will present an unbiased approach to design, and the exhibition seeks to re-establish graduate architecture work as creative and craft-based problem solving, rather than an exercise in aesthetics.
Opening night with bar: Wednesday 9 July, 6pm-10pm
Wednesday 9th (opening night) 6pm - 10 pm
Thursday-Friday 11am - 8pm
Saturday 12th 12pm-5pm
Location: Hoxton Arches, 402 Cremer Street, Shoreditch, London E2 8HD
Index image: Jonathan Edwards
Opening image: Josephine Dand