This week the new WISE building at CAT has been buzzing with architecture students, all working on their final projects. We took the opportunity to go and quiz them about what they are doing and how their course is going.
The WISE was alive with creative energy, paper covering the studio floors, cardboard models and sketchbooks spread out across the tables, the huge windows were filling the airy rooms with light, connecting and framing the woods and mountains around CAT.
Many of the students were working on projects that centred around regenerating urban areas.
Jenny’s ‘Food Cycle’ project was a reaction to a new eco build housing site that was built so far outside town, that it is only conveniently accessible by car. ‘If we want a car free environment, we need to change the way we structure our towns.’ Her plans involved cycle routes around Bristol and Bath, allotments along existing cycle routes, all connected to a centrally located building which housed shower blocks and bike storage for commuters who cycled into work, as well as housing an outlet for the allotment grown vegetables. Her idea is to connect people and food.
I asked the students what made CAT different to other architecture courses they had considered. Ben said he found that there was a lot more lectures and essays than other courses. He liked this because he felt he was being informed and inspired by new ideas ‘there is less emphasis on over-the-top architecture design.’ Altogether a bit more down to earth. Ben, Mima and James agreed that having sustainability at the core of the course was not only very unique for a architecture school, but also gave the course as a whole drive and focus. One of the main difference that students highlighted about the CAT course was its dedication to sustainability. While other courses may throw in a token module or a few minutes at the end of a lecture, the core environmental focus on the CAT is unique and genuine.
The new WISE building seems to have made an enormous difference to the students study.
‘We wake up, breakfast is waiting in the restaurant. We head for the studio where we can work all night if we want, and then go to bed- I don’t even need to put my shoes on. (George)
‘The bar has a been closed all week at the students request – everyone is so focused and driven… The communal space means there are loads of people to bounce ideas off’
‘There is an intensity created with us all studying together, which is strengthened by the practical aspect.’
Next week the students will be building a temporary class room in the woods. Students witnessed the felling of the trees for this project. Tutor Trish explained how the connection between students and their materials is an important link that other courses leave out. The hands on approach is vital in their understanding of practicalities and properties of their materials.
Stay tuned for updates on the student projects, as well as the exhibition scheduled for January.