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How does social interaction influence the collaborative design process? July 7, 2015

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How do disciplinary roles and relationships influence the design process?

A research study at the University of Central Lancashire has already prompted some interesting discussion about  collaboration.  The study is now exploring these issues further by directly observing a number of design teams in practice.

I would like to observe your design team meetings. You won’t need to make any adjustments to your working practice or how you run the meeting. I will simply attend and film proceedings. Project teams can have 3 or 30 participants, but must contain an architect and other built environment disciplines.  Resulting data will then be analysed to explore the nature of relationships between the disciplinary roles in the design team. All participants will receive a full report of the study findings. In addition, I would be happy to give a presentation of findings specific to your design team and/or your organisation, if you would find this useful. This may be provided as a brief CPD event.

I will not conduct any research work without your full consent. All data will be stored in a password protected file and will not be shared. No individuals or organisations will be recorded or named and no commercial information will be recorded in the study. No judgements will be made about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practices – the analysis intends to be an objective snapshot of how we tend to work right now.

Your involvement in the study would be really appreciated and I hope that the direct observation of how we work in practice will offer some insights into the way that built environment professionals can collaborate more effectively in future.

If you would like your design team meetings to be observed, please contact me as soon as possible either by email at jebarrett@uclan.ac.uk to receiver further information and/or a consent form.


‘Dead Town’ to ‘Destination’ December 8, 2014

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*fresh architecture

Year 1 presented their urban strategy for Morecambe, Lancashire.

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Strengthening the perpendicularity of the urban grain, they propose to break the liminal barriers between sea, sand and town, to create a series of urban events, putting the ‘place’ back into the declining seaside destination.

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A diagnosis of analysis paralysis December 5, 2014

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*fresh architecture

So you’ve found a site.  Time for some site analysis – context, sun paths, demographics, microclimate, figure ground studies…….we could go on forever.  And why not?  Site analysis is a safe and methodical exercise.  Your site is just waiting to unlock its secrets and reveal a building just waiting to happen.  Or not.

We get stuck in the analysis phase.  It’s a form of procrastination.  The building will not reveal itself.  You have to design it!

And the prescription for Analysis Paralysis?  A charrette!

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[Sylwia Mazurek & Keith Tasker]

Last Tuesday, each student, having submitted their projects just a couple of days beforehand, were asked to draw their building and pin up for review.  In just four hours and a prohibition on digital media, they retrieved the initial iterations from the private spaces of their minds, prompting a dialogue about what their building might become.

Drawing and subsequent…

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Hola/Kaixo Bilbao!! November 21, 2014

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*fresh architecture

This year’s study trip was to Bilbao, in the Basque Country.

Before we rushed over to the Guggenheim, we took a boat trip from the centre of Bilbao to the sea.  This gave us a great perspective on the context of the iconic and bold gestures of recent development.  Whether Bilbao’s regeneration  has been appropriate or complete is arguable, but the desolation of the industrial outer fringe caused us to question the validity of tourism and architecture as tools for renewal.

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Those who braved the bracing breeze…..
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Fahim capturing the moment….
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Once we’d considered the context (context, context), we examined the Guggenheim Museum.  Despite Gehry’s recent profound commentary on contemporary architecture, as an object, as an urban junction and as a tectonic experience, we were impressed with his 1997 contribution.

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Chris gets into cladding……

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Dorota gazing through glazing….
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Audio commentary on Richard Serra’s super spatial ‘Matter of Time’

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Other Spanish delicacies…

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Bring Me Sunshine November 4, 2014

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*fresh architecture

Year 5 presented their creative engagement with the intangible place(lessness) of Morecambe, Lancashire .

A declining and decaying northern seaside town was presented as a dark, desolate urban landscape.  Hope prevails as people, interaction, connectivity  and communitas offer the spirit for recovery.

The students will now apply this interpretation to develop a strategy for re-energising the town’s tourism industry and urban vitality.

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The Dynamics of Design July 29, 2014

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Do our social interactions have any influence on our collaborative design decisions?

Can we influence the social dynamics in teams to design better buildings?

This are the questions asked by my PhD study.  I’ve recently canvassed practitioners for some answers.  Click below for a Study Update…..


Study Update June2014_Page_1

Study Update June2014_Page_2

 Images courtesy of Andrei Giurgea

Welcome to Midge Hole Mill! May 12, 2014

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Welcome to the showcase for the Midge Hole Mill project.

Working for a live client and on complex and isolated terrain, Masters in Architecture students at UCLan have pioneered the values of the Living Building Challenge. With support & guidance from Living Futures ambassadors led by Martin Brown, students have  interrogated the future of domestic living in an architecture that seeks to go beyond current sustainable thinking, creating innovative design solutions whilst embracing the rigorous LBC standards.

Below are samples of each student’s work.  We’d love to hear your feedback.  Leave a comment here or chat to us live online at the Construction21 EXPO (14/15 May 2014).  You’ll find us in the Living Building Challenge booth.


WINNER:  Josh Allington


Josh Allington1


RUNNER UP:  Emma McQuillan


Emma McQuillan1Emma McQuillan2

Laura Birkett


Laura Birkett1

Rebecca Lovell


Becky Lovell1

Chris Thomas


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Leo Tindell


Leo Tindell1


Please click here to read about the project’s conception and here to read a previous post recording work in progress.

If you would like to find out more about the projects or the Masters in Architecture at UCLan, email me at jebarrett@uclan.ac.uk

Or leave a comment below:

Beyond The Greenwash May 8, 2014

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“derive & drive design from the soil”


I’ve only just remembered to mention that a short opinion piece I wrote was included in the launch edition of Edge Condition.  This new, online journal is a rather good read with some great articles from those who consider themselves to be working on the ‘edge’ of architecture.  It’s all finished off with an example of Perry Kulper‘s deeply satisfying artwork.  My article relates my experience of existing on the kerb of landscape and architecture and calls for a deeper engagement with landscape in architectural education.


Click HERE to read….






Social media meets sustainability May 8, 2014

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A great day at the fabulous GMex/Manchester Central (still full of memories of James’s 1990 Sit Down gig) with the @Be2Camp  crowd at GreenBuild Expo 2014 and hosted by LSI GreenVision.  This year Be2Camp took control of the main stage, complete with headsets and roadie tshirts!

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Highlights for me, were Alex Whitcroft’s rapidfire talk on how the Collaborative Economy is changing architecture and construction as well as the initial forays into immersive environments that look set to change how we collect and disseminate building information during user/public/client consultation (David Burden).  I was also intrigued by Claire Thirlwall’s possibilities for paperless project management.  I gave a brief presentation too – on ‘Social Studio’ which looks at the way social media could help in giving students (& industry, & practice) the best environment for discussing personal and collective values using a variety of interactive platforms – many of which we’ve already piloted at UCLan.  Here are my slides…..

Social Studio: Network learning/values-based education 

Feel free to share & if you would like to find out more, feel free to drop me a line.

Also, here’s a selective Storify of the event…

March 14, 2014

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“Through talk, we tamed kings, restrained tyrants, averted revolution”

Tony Benn (1925-2014)