The MA Architecture + Urbanism course is the Manchester School of Architecture's taught postgraduate course which conducts research into how global cultural and economic forces influence contemporary cities. The design, functioning and future of urban situations is explored in written, drawn and modelled work which builds on the legacy of twentieth century urban theory and is directed towards the development of sustainable cities.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Biennale Sessions: 29 June 2016

On June 29 2016 the MA A+U hosted their annual symposium entitled 'Frontiers of Responsive Architecture' as part of the Biennale Sessions at the Venice Architecture Biennale. This year's symposium held in the main pavilion at the Giardini di Biennale took the form of a conversation between Chilean architect Claudio Molina Camacho and James Taylor-Foster co-curator of the Nordic Pavilion at this year's Biennale based around a discussion of some of Molina Camacho's built and unbuilt projects. Molina Camacho had chosen the theme 'Human Relations, Social Interaction and Dialogue with the Landscape' to describe his work, which in turn responded to Biennale director Alejandro Aravena's theme of 'Reporting from the Front'. Taylor-Foster, whose own pavilion was based around the theme of 'In Therapy' acted as the interlocutor issues presented in the four projects which were presented.

Molina Camacho began by relating his personal theme to fellow Chilean Aravena's broader purpose in his Biennale curation, exploring the topographic frontier presented by their capital city Santiago, surrounded by the encompassing presence of mountains. The first project he discussed, a space for a scout group attached to a school in the city could clearly be defined as a liminal building in accord with the Biennale theme. Completed in 2011 the timber clad building was designed to help educate the scouts how to survive in frontier situations. Constructed on a tree shaded and sloping site the deceptively simple buildings were described as a search for light with cuts in the envelope of the box like structures allowing for connections between the sheltered interior spaces and the wooded exterior, with the sound of running water on the site providing an ever present sensory link to the wider landscape. Responding to this project in his first intervention Taylor-Foster asked how the very assured project was developed in its contextual response in reaction to the previous accommodation but also in terms of the social landscape to which it is firmly rooted.

In the second project which Molina Camacho discussed, the Ruka Vitral Mapuche Workshop, the building form, because of its severely limited budget evokes the universal typology of the primitive hut, and specifically because of its functional purpose for weaving that association used by Semper. This project for the teaching of indigenous weaving skills in a pastoral landscape presents ethnicity as a new frontier for architecture where traditional craft and building are reinterpreted for the present day. Comfortably situated in the terrain from which it derives its materiality, it is a simple building which distills its cultural values into architectural form. With a timber structure and reed thatch roof appropriated from the landscape comparisons were drawn by Taylor-Foster to Aravena's 'half a house' project, albeit here employing very different technology, and by Prue Chiles in her comment on the reciprocal relationship between th community and hand made construction.

The third design project which Molina Camacho presented was a fly fishing centre in a riverine landscape which is undergoing decontamination, a 4.8 metre square timber tower which he described as like the trunk of a tree one can climb inside, an object of shared construction between the anglers and the local community. A spatially complex and geometrically precise structure the economy of means the project demonstrates suggests a potentially magical and elegant intervention in a recovering landscape. To close, Molina Camacho described the doctoral research he is about to commence at the Manchester School of Architecture on the rehabilitation of the surviving concrete market structure in Concepción, Chile an architectural and ethnographic studio which will allow him to further explore how interactions between people, construction and context create a responsive architecture.

Following the symposium, it being the feast of St.Peter and St.Paul, many of the participants retired to the nearby Piazza San Pietro di Castello and joined the parish community in celebrating the height of the Venetian summer with food, drink, song and dance.



Monday, 5 September 2016

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'Norman Foster: Designing the Future, Starting in The North'

The North of England has a track record of changing the world through superb performance. It was the crucible of the Industrial Revolution and is now at the forefront of technological innovation at places such as the National Graphene Institute, as well as being the home of British sporting excellence. As it rediscovers its economic drive, creative energy and self-belief, what part will design play in making the North great again?

In this lecture Norman Foster, himself a Mancunian, shows how world-class buildings, places and spaces are as crucial now as they were in the nineteenth century. Don’t miss this chance to hear our greatest living architect make the case for design as a key ingredient in shaping the Northern Powerhouse.

WHEN
Wednesday, 9 November 2016 from 13:00 to 14:30 (GMT)
WHERE
Manchester Town Hall - Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5DB

This lecture is the inaugural Lord St. John of Fawsley Commemoration Lecture organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust in association with Manchester City Council. Register for this free event on Eventbrite



Saturday, 11 June 2016

Human Relations, Social Interaction and Dialogue with the Landscape

MA A+U are very pleased to announce 'Human Relations, Social Interaction and Dialogue with the Landscape' as the theme of our contribution to the #BiennaleSessions in which Chilean architect Claudio Molina Camacho will be in conversation with James Taylor-Foster of the Nordic Pavilion.



Monday, 6 June 2016

Reporting 'REPORTING FROM THE FRONT'


REPORTING FROM THE FRONT Alejandro Aravena's theme as Director of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 offers a wide open opportunity for architects, academics and critics to present and debate contemporary architecture and urbanism with a particular emphasis on the borderlines of professional activity and its interactions with different social groups. Aravena's call has been met in many diverse ways in the exhibitions which, if lacking the coherence of the last Biennale directed by Rem Koolhaas, offer a spectrum of approaches which the globalising urban world might require. The displays at the Giardini and the Arsenale both balance national contributions with selected participations which demonstrate specific techniques or projects that push the envelope of the status quo, be that politically, socially or technologically.

Highlights at the Giardini include Germany's 'open door' responding to the refugee crisis, France's elegant 'savoir faire', Belgium's sidelong look at construction and Poland's advocacy regarding construction workers' rights. Closer to the Biennale's home the Venetian Pavilion allows young architects to propose interventions in the post-industrial landscape of Marghera, including the appropriation of the siege strategy of 'poliorceticon' to reconquer an abandoned territory.

However the centrepiece exhibit in the main pavilion at the Giardini, a lattice like catenary brick vault by Solano Benitez / Gabinete de Arquitectura from Paraguay, is a stunningly beautiful demonstration of economy and elegance of means which (if this is not too incongruous to say) richly deserves its Golden Lion for Best Participant. It contrasts with other vaulted structures displayed at the Arsenale. Norman Foster Foundation presents a brick vaulted drone port for Rwanda intended for the delivery of medicines and supplies in remote areas, while ETH Zurich display a digitally fabricated stone vault quarried in Texas and transported to Venice to wow the global architectural audience. This structure is a great spectacle but one wonders, in the specific environmental context of this Biennale, about the carbon footprint of such procedures given the abundant availability of stone in Switzerland and the Veneto. Floating much more lightly on the earth, quite literally, is the replica of the Makoko Floating School from Lagos by NLÉ which appears much more aligned with the spirit of Aravena's theme and is moored in the Arsenale's basin. An engaging lightness of touch is a characteristic shared, despite the geographic distance, between the Chilean and Nordic Pavilions.

At the Arsenale the dramatic nature of the extended sequence of the Corderie is exploited for good and ill, with a beautiful and playful demonstration of the wonders of light which immediately engages visitors, and a slightly terrifying totalitarian model of a project for the Skolkovo Innovation Centre in Moscow which echoes uncomfortably with the more ironic display in the Russian Pavilion at the Giardini of the Stalinist VDNKh pleasure grounds presented in a mesmerising kaleidoscopic projection.

Outside the principal venues at the Giardini and the Arsenale, many countries have their chance to raise their architectural profile. Liechtenstein hosted a very well attended educational symposium, and when turning a corner near Campo Santo Stefano on can encounter a champagne reception hosted by Luxembourg, or a small rave hosted by Montenegro. But in many respects the most touching element in the whole of the Biennale is the Portuguese exhibition on the Giudecca and entitled 'Where Alvaro meets Aldo'. It neatly commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Aldo Rossi's 'The Architecture of the City' in 1966 and Alvaro Siza's longstanding involvement with him and others of the School of Venice, and in the collaborative design of social housing in the Campo di Marte project. The exhibition occupies the unfinished ground floor of a block by Siza and features models and drawings of that project and three of his other housing schemes in Porto, The Hague and Berlin. Films of Siza visiting the residents of each project, discussing their successes and failures are an eloquent commentary on the fact that the engagement of architects with social and political issues treads a very thin line between optimism and disappointment, and neither is it only a recent phenomenon.


The Venice Architecture Biennale continues until 27 November 2016


MA A+U will be hosting their annual symposium entitled FRONTIERS OF RESPONSIVE ARCHITECTURE as part of the Biennale Sessions on 29 June 2016 - information at https://fora2016.wordpress.com/





Thursday, 26 May 2016

FRONTIERS OF RESPONSIVE ARCHITECTURE: Claudio Molina Camacho

MA A+U are extremely pleased to announce that Chilean architect CLAUDIO MOLINA CAMACHO will be our special guest at the symposium 'Frontiers of Responsive Architecture' to be held as part of the Biennale Sessions at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016. Claudio will be presenting a series of buildings and projects in response to Biennale Director Alejandro Aravena's theme REPORTING FROM THE FRONT.

Date: 29 June 2016

Venue: Giardini Biennale, Venice

To confirm attendance please contact the @FORA2016 team via email at frontiersaandu@gmail.com


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Frontiers of Responsive Architecture

MA A+U are very pleased to announce that our 2016 Symposium 'Frontiers of Responsive Architecture' https://fora2016.wordpress.com/ will be held as Manchester School of Architecture's contribution to the Biennale Sessions http://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/exhibition/biennale-sessions/ during the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale REPORTING FROM THE FRONT

For further information on this event please contact The FORA Team via email frontiersaandu@gmail.com or follow them on twitter @FORA2016



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Dr. Ahlam Sharif

Congratulations to 2012 MA A+U alumna Dr. Ahlam Sharif who has recently been awarded a Ph.D from the University of Manchester for a thesis entitled

"Sustainable Architectural Design between Inscription and De-scription: The Case of Masdar City".


Ahlam writes

"The thesis aims to deconstruct the traditional dualities between design and use and blend the boundaries between them. It focuses on the design as a process that is complex, dynamic, and unpredicted on its own, where other processes, such as use, are part of it. It utilises the case of Masdar City, which has been designed by the architectural and urban planning firm Foster + Partners in the UK (F+P) and implemented in the Middle East, more particularly in the United Arab Emirates. It provides a particular focus on its first developed stage represented by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). Based on a qualitative and inductive approach, the conducted research utilises interviews and site observations with the designer, users, and other main contributors to target the main research aim. Through such emphasis, it reflects on the concept of sustainability that is itself contested, changeable, and vague."

Dr. Sharif will receive her doctorate at a graduation ceremony in July.

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