Alina and I are leading the Vertical Studio module this year at Nottingham Trent University, as part of the MArch (Masters in Architecture) course. It's a 10 week design studio delivered to both cohorts of the MArch course, aimed at bringing in practitioners with a particular set of approaches, whilst introducing new students to NTU and preparing final year students for their major dissertation projects.
We've decided to build the studio around the notion of weaving — both as an approach to understanding one way of making structure and space and as an analogy for the multi-stranded assemblage of information, knowledge and ideas that go into an architectural design project.
The site we've chosen is what we've termed an 'urban appendix' — a former thoroughfare truncated by the building of Victoria Station in Nottingham, and then overshadowed by its replacement, the Victoria Centre. This unloved backwater will be stiched back into the urban fabric by housing a dressmaker's shop, design studio and workshop.
During the first week the students were set the ambitious target of putting on an exhibition of exploratory models. Following visits to Kula Tsurdiu (acting as client) and the NTU textiles exhibition and weaving workshops, the students investigated techniques of stitching, pleating, weaving and fusing to create their models. It was great to see a lot of careful investigation and reckless experimentation coming together in a short space of time — the students really responded to the challenge and we look forward to seeing their designs develop over the coming weeks.