House of the Rising Sun Gets Passive Solar Heating December 17, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: #landscapefutures, architectural education, Living Building Challenge, sustainability, UCLan
Students presented their initial ideas at an interim review last week. Their work demonstrated a diverse response to a difficult site with form and concepts derived from an interrogation of future domestic living in an architecture that seeks to go beyond current sustainable thinking which seeks to minimise harm, towards a restorative solution where architecture can create and solve the physical, social and aesthetic relationships between building, landscape and environment.
With the valued support of Martin Brown and his international colleagues at the Living Building Challenge (LBC), students have reconsidered indolent notions of sustainability, instead tackling the difficult LBC values and standards whilst upholding creative expression in their architectural form. So far, the Challenge is presenting interesting debates relating to the role of sustainable technology to architectural form and its role and position in the design process. In interpreting the LBC standards, we are also noting how the US perspective presents some dissonance with the UK opportunities, so we’re noting differences and hope to work with LBC to hone the standards for the UK landscape, climate and palate. For some, the LBC is even incompatible with the architectural discipline. The project is for a live client and, should it reach construction, will be the first UK building to be constructed to the LBC ideal (see CSD reblog).
Examples of work so far…..
Is this the UK First Living Building Challenge project? December 17, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
In what may well become the UK’s first Living Building Challenge Project, the Lancashire based Midge Hole project is currently an architectural student design competition at the Grenfell-Baines School of Architecture, Construction and Environment at UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire), within the Landscape Futures design studio, led by Jenni Barrett.
Although the topography of the site is challenging, the watercourse that once provided energy to former mill operations will present opportunities for zero energy and even zero water solutions
Supported by the UK LBC Collaborative, Martin Brown introduced the students to the Challenge recently. Ongoing support with petal seminars, live links to other LBC projects and studio work will continue throughout the competition. The winning student design will be selected following presentations to a panel in January. It is then hoped the project will move into the formal planning…
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Drawing Diversity October 4, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: aesthetics, architecture, drawing, landscape, UCLan
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By hand or using technology tools, they make representations of a world they propose. Architects are also embracing site, context and landscape as essential parts of the architectural palette. Yet, despite artistic skills, well-honed in architecture school, there remains a divide between representation of buildings and the spaces that connect them. I remain unconvinced by out-of-scale, acid-green trees set in deeper-green, grass floor blankets.Grand Central Terminal, New York (Foster&Partners)
There is an ancient skill of deriving understanding of the natural world through artistic endeavour and we may be in danger of losing it. The great scientific contributions of Linnaeus and Darwin would not have been possible without drawing.
Source: Design Squish
It’s through the art of diagram that we understand the temporal and dynamic relationships between flora and their ecosystems.Phylogenetic Tree
A phylogeny-driven genomic encyclopaedia of bacteria and archaea
And the spiritual and aesthetic human relationships with their built environment has been a repetitive theme in the literal and figurative fine arts for centuries.Wanluan Thatched Hall, Dong Qichang, 1597
Source: Wikipedia Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia, Claude Lorrain, 1682
Source: Wikipedia Commons Cityscape I (Landscape No.1), Richard Diebenkorn, 1963
Source: Wikipedia Commons
How do we define our relationship with the natural world, today? This is a daily question in architectural discussion, but there is little evidence of interrogating it through pen, pencil or mouse.
Masters students in architecture at UCLan, however, are interrogating landscape – looking at ways that architecture can understand the natural world a little better and engage with it in a little more depth. Their work will be exhibited next week and I’ll aim to pin up some inspiring images…….
From Wild West to North West: Reconstituting agrarianism July 12, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: agrarian, architectural education, landscape, landscape urbanism, urbanism
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The agrarian ideal offers speculation relating to how we can propagate, feed and reap the rewards of new society. It is unsurprising then, that this ideal stems from a Fenland vision, transplanted by pioneers and speculators to the New World. Flourishing as the American Dream in a landscape of constitution, agrarianism became the fertile bract of the moral and ethical roots of the United States. It was manifested in plan form in William Penn’s Philadelphia (1683) and progressed by visionaries such as Lloyd Wright (Broadacre City, 1934), Henry Dreyfuss (Democracity, 1939) and Ludwig Hilbersheimer (The New Regional Pattern, 1944-49). The theme has been explored in the technological age by Branzi (Agronica, 1993-94) and MVRDV, notably Pig City (2001). More contemporary dalliances with agrarianism deconstruct the ideal to mere visions of food production via urban agriculture, which, though valuable contributions to the ‘problem’ of urban landscape, dilute the politically and socially reformative capacity of the agrarian vision. This is achieved at the local scale (e.g. Bronx Public Farm & Orchard, Alexondros Arlonitis, 2008) or as strategic approaches to productive use of urban landscape (Continuous Productive Urban Landscape, Bohm & Viljoen,2005). Meanwhile, Duany Plater Zyberk have echoed Lloyd Wright’s US focussed, regional planning approach in their published advocacy of ‘agrarian urbanism,’ though economically, socially and aesthetically naïve in outcome.
Meanwhile, all is not quiet on the Preston front. We struggle to reconcile a definition of ‘agrarianism’ and further to perceive it within an English rural arcadia which bears the weight of production to support a hungry urban reality. Our kingdom was never united. We represent a reconstitution of the Picts and the Punjabi; of empire and devolution; of gangs and ghettos. From this arises a culture of the land with relict tribal rituals and diverse dialect – of spirit and memory. Hence, the agrarian ideal can only ever impose uncomfortably upon British soil. Instead, we need to grow our vision of the future from the landscape, the land that we have ‘scaped’ for ourselves over millennia.
Maiden Iron Age Hill Fort, Dorset
Source: Dorset AONB
The term ‘landscape’ derives from the Dutch ‘landschap’, the suffix deriving from ‘ship,’ holding the same root as ‘partnership’ or ‘kinship’ suggested a living and layered state of being which causes us to be hefted to the land. It is layers, not plans, that we must understand if we are to solve and envision a sustainable urbanism . We have an exciting opportunity to welcome the new American settlers of ‘agrarianism,’ ‘new urbanism,’ ‘ecological urbanism’ and ‘landscape urbanism’ back home and reconstitute them to bear relevance here. Architectural education must embed internationally transferable skills in understanding how ideas of landscape and place can contribute to a whole infrastructure which fuels and shapes architecture and urbanism, using their immediate regions; its metropolises and their hinterlands, as the field of operation.
Landscape Futures : Field Interventions July 2, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: architectural education, architecture, infrastructure, landscape, ruralism, UCLan, urbanism
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End of one academic year and headlong into the next……and the next one’s going to be a biggie.
The new Masters in Architecture course commences. I’ll be teaching one of the design ateliers with Prof. Karim Hadjri and we’ve been busy working it all out. So, now presenting in glorious RGB Technicolour……
Landscape Futures : Field Interventions
It’s an opportunity to expand our role and understanding of landscape within the architectural discipline as well as getting serious about the skills and knowledge we need to secure a sustainable urbanism and contextual architectural intervention. We’re still working out the finer points, but here’s a taster of what’s to come….
“How can architecture engage with concepts of food scarcity and energy security in the context of increasing urbanisation and rural decline?
How can technology engage with landscape to define an architecture of the future?
How do issues of infrastructure and aesthetics combine to produce sustainable urban futures that respond to ‘place’ and ‘time’?
The Landscape Futures atelier commences with a rapid-fire series of projects which investigate the flow and stasis of elements which define and determine urban and rural metabolisms including food, energy, biodiversity and transport. These issues will be explored at global and local levels and communicated in a variety of visual and tactile forms.
Semester 1 continues with exploration of precedents in the Netherlands and the north-west of England to establish temporal, spatial and aesthetic solutions and emerging challenges for architecture, focusing on the connectivity and symbiosis of urban existence with rural and agrarian productivity. This research will be used to generate strategies for a new and plausible urbanism for the Lancashire region based upon a deep understanding of how landscape and place interact with and determine architectural interventions in spaces of uncertain futures.
“We are never going to save the rural places or the agricultural places or the wild and scenic places (or the wild species that dwell there) unless we identify the human habitat and then strive to make it so good that humans will voluntarily inhabit it.”
James Howard Kunstler
If you are interested in studying on the MArch at UCLan and joining us in this atelier or if you have any questions, please feel free to email me or use the form below.
I would also be really keen to hear from those interested in contributing to the atelier, either as a guest tutor, keynote speaker or as a case study.
GreenBuild on film! June 12, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: BE2Camp, collaboration, education, slides, sustainability, video
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Be2Camp have kindly done what they do best – used some techy wizardry to promote collaboration and information sharing by posting the presentation videos and slides from their recent meet & tweet at the GreenBuild Expo on 8th May, 2013. I did post after the session here. The full set of videos & slides is available on the Be2Camp website.
The Social Life of the Novel Idea May 16, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: BIM, collaboration, design process, ideas, research
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The Idea So Far….
I recently presented my current research project at an architectural research seminar at the School of Built & Natural Environment, UCLan. The research project aims to link social behaviour to design outcomes, deriving a social model of the design process.
You can view the Prezi slides here….
Preston Bus Station: Ethics not aesthetics March 4, 2013Posted by jennibarrett in Uncategorized.
Tags: aesthetics, brutalism, ethics, Preston Bus Station, value
It is, by now, a widely accepted premise that Preston Bus Station is a building of architectural significance (see current article in RIBA Journal). The consensus on its significance is given further weight by the support given by Angela Brady PRIBA and the RIBA President Elect, Stephen Hodder and the recommendations of the 20th Century Society. Whether it is indeed aesthetically beautiful or not is a separate and more philosophical discussion – possibly one for a future post.
But its beauty and architectural significance is only one facet of the issue.
There’s the question of value. What is it that we value in our city and how do we assess this?
Do we truly value our buildings of architectural significance, our contemporary architectural heritage? Do we value them enough to prioritise their conservation more highly than the crude outcome of a profit and loss calculation?
Are we comfortable with this commodification of our heritage?
There are many fabulous buildings in Preston. Let’s look at another. This building was built in a style which caused much consternation at the time of its construction. It was built in a Gothic Revival style. The term ‘gothic,’ originally described a building that was crude, barbaric – ‘brutal.’ Despite the architectural adjective being a term of derision, it eventually took its place in our stylistic vocabulary.
This Gothic building, despite being disliked by some, was originally built to signify city confidence and social progress. But now, it’s going to cost over £1million to renovate and it doesn’t even produce any revenue.
The building I’m referring to is the Grade 1 Listed St. Walburge’s Church, less than a mile from Preston Bus Station. Its story echoes the plight of the ‘Brutalist’ bus station, another monument described by an architectural adjective that incorrectly infers something fearful and unsympathetic. I’ve never never met anyone who would dare to suggest getting rid of the bus station’s gothic neighbour & those trusted with its care seek creative approaches to investment and widely promote its renovation to its former glory. It’s value that transcends any fiscal analysis and this is confirmed by those who use it as well as those who admire it from afar.
Source: Paul Melling/Blog Preston
Urban value also embraces the spaces between the buildings. Do we value our public spaces, our streetlife? Preston Bus Station is in public ownership; is used by the public and a unique and people-centric activity happens within it (however socially unacceptable this can sometimes be!). In a sense, then, it’s not a building at all. It’s a public space. It’s a street that happens to have a structure built around it.
If we were debating whether to build on one of Preston’s key public spaces – the Market Square or Miller Park – spaces which require expensive maintenance; are unlikely to generate much in the way of revenue, yet significant in Preston’s urban life, it would be acknowledged that something is being taken away from the people of Preston – certainly, not without launching some kind of competition to see how the spaces could be improved or to discover a more creative, forward thinking business model.
But this is what’s proposed here. One of the main ‘streets’ in Preston, one which is iconic, renowned, busy and vibrant is proposed to be condensed, converted and downgraded to something that will be, well, catastrophically ordinary.
So, back to the subject of value. To use the procurement terminology, is it ‘best value’ to remove something that is perceived to be successful in every other way, except monetarily, without measuring the value of its less tangible assets via full transparent discussion or meaningful consultation with those who use it, or appreciate it from further afield? Is that even ethical? And until a full, collaborative, rigorous, creative and forward thinking decision making process has been seen through – and Gate 81 is a brilliant example of that – then ethically speaking, a decision can’t be made.
Brutalism refers not to the imposing form of this style of building, but rather to the resulting aesthetic linked to a béton brut, a particular way of using and finishing raw concrete which was adopted by a group of architects from a particular social and ethical standpoint, who used the béton brut as tool for their structural expressionism. And then the term also kind of stuck, thanks primarily to the publication of Reyner Banham’s 1966 book, “The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic?” Brutalism is an architectural style from recent history. We may not like it now, but perhaps we will miss it in the future.
The debate about the future:death of Preston Bus Station, however, is not a question of whether the building is subjectively beautiful or not, but whether we truly value Preston’s future heritage and how we transparently assess this without getting hung up on its financial commoditisation. In that sense, this is a replay of 1966 (“they think it’s all over?”). No, not football. I’m referring again to Reyner Banham’s significant work. This decision is a one of ethics, not aesthetics.