Joanne Jakovich kindly invited me to be a "guest critic" at the UTS Architecture degree final presentations for the 2nd year design studios, alongside a few other professionals from, as she put it, "the real world". And so yesterday, representing the Rest of the World, myself and few architects - we were all, minus one, dressed in black as per the cliché, preposterously - had a hugely enjoyable afternoon sitting through presentations great and not-so-great from students on the course, and giving what we hope was useful feedback. Even the not-so-great presentations were chock full of ingenious solutions or careful renderings, and it was immensely rewarding to be in the lively, scruffy environment of a school fizzing with ideas.
In Jo's words: "The students have been designing an intensive, multi-program architecture for a tiny alleyway space in the back of Chinatown using methods of information mapping (interim image above)."
It's a tiny space; no more than a sliver in the dense urban fabric of Chinatown, and so a great problem to work with.
And there were some cracking ideas in response, running the gamut from APEC-esque domineering security structures to karaoke bars/meditation centres; each student presented on boards and with models (no film, interactive or other screen-based work, sadly, although it's also good to see drawing and modelling reinforced); the starting point of mapping the space (in terms of patterns of pedestrian movement, clothing, chewing gum or wireless networks) provided much thought and discussion for your correspondent, as did the sense that the software students use is intrinsically determining some of the form and representation (fractured, Libeskind-like, multi-faceted forms abound, although wedged into this tiny space, that may well be entirely appropriate.)
Many thanks to Jo and the students for a stimulating session. Hopefully, more to follow.