Welcome Week: Introducing the Circular Economy in Week One:
Brighton has always been a city with a green agenda and this is something we take seriously within the course. Sustainability has many manifestations in architecture. In the past few years there has been a shift of concern from operational energy; how much energy a building uses, largely resolved by improving the thermal performance of a building, to consider embodied energy; the resources/energy that go into the materials and construction of the building. You may have realised that the two have a complicated relationship, the more insulation used for example to reduce heat loss, the more energy needed to make that insulation, and a balance needs to be achieved between the two.
As designers in the 21st Century we need to think about the city as a material resource. How can we reduce the quantity of materials needed (material efficiency and how this is processed), re-use ‘waste’ or discarded materials from existing buildings and recycle what might be left and keep it away from landfill? We must design and operate within a circular economy.
It is important to consider and respond as designers to the climate crisis, and we start thinking about buildings as a material resource in Welcome Week. New students are asked to make a model of their home that can be de-constructed and re-constructed. The models become a material resource for re-use, a first experience in designing for deconstruction. Models from this early task can be seen below.
Module: Experiencing Architecture – Living with your design decisions
When our first-year students arrive at Brighton, they bring a personal history; a wealth of experience; of being in buildings, of having lived amongst other peoples’ architectural decisions. Positive or negative these experiences have informed their understanding of the urban world, and their expectations of the built environment, and the way they will think about designing the world anew and although students’ lives have been spent amongst the constructed world it is rare for a new student to have recognised and critically considered the value of their own experience through the lens of architecture.
We start, in the first term, isolating spatial experience, this year in each students’ newly occupied home in Brighton. Students build a life size (1:1 scale) installation in a room in their house, and spend the subsequent weeks, amending, refining, and living amongst their design proposal. It is rare as designers that we live with the decision decisions we make but ultimately, we design for occupancy and need to keep this in mind.
This project offers an introduction to design as an explorative and iterative process, we adopt a ‘fail better’ strategy – making and making again, adjusting, altering, sometimes with a specific aim, often with serendipitous discovery along the way. We ask students to shape their immediate environment, sometimes to use their installation to take them to another place. This is a particular aim of the concluding piece as a film or drawings to capture the experience of living amongst the installation. Some concluding films can be seen below.
Design Tutors: Experiencing Architecture: Elizabeth Blundell, Max Martin, Anthony Roberts, Andre Viljoen, Livia Wang, Jack Wates. Module Lead: Elizabeth (Libby) Blundell. Digiskills Training: James McAdam. Guest Workshops: Charlie Yetton – Film Maker.
The first year lays a broad foundation for the years ahead. At Brighton students are introduced to the lenses through which we read, interpret, and design buildings. Broadly this module integrates the subject areas of design, technology, and the humanities. Students learn the language of architectural drawing as well as other methods of visual and verbal communication. On site, and within the design studio at Mithras House students learn through making and talking about their work with each other as well as tutors.
The module is currently set at the University of Sussex. Here students study the buildings and the pioneering campus university, designed by Sir Basil Spence, Bonington and Collins. These buildings are critiqued over several weeks, considering the use of materials, the buildings functionality; the spatial arrangement and hierarchy of space, the buildings response to the environment; the presence of natural light, and shadow as well as ventilation. We look at their context; the relationship to the landscape, and we study their structure. The aspects considered here form components of the student’s own design projects from January.
Observations and drawings are made from the site scale to the human scale; the detail of a stair for example may be surveyed. We compare these buildings to other precedents and discuss the relevance and appropriateness of this type of architecture in the present day, who they were designed for and who was excluded or not considered at the time. We consider how the preservation of the buildings because of their listed status impacts their ability to meet the needs of the 21st century. Selected drawings from this year can be seen below.
Design Tutors: Reading Architecture: Elizabeth Blundell, Max Martin, Anthony Roberts, Andre Viljoen, Livia Wang, Jack Wates. Module Leader: Elizabeth Blundell. Digiskills Training: James McAdam. Guest Lecture: Aleksandra Loske: “Light, Colour and Concrete at the University of Sussex”.