The students of the MA Architecture + Urbanism course continue their research and design in the field defined by UN Habitat as the ‘The New Urban Agenda’. To this end they explore locally attuned aspects for the global urban issues of the workplace, housing, public space, infrastructure, leisure, heritage and development. The locations for this year’s thesis projects, to be presented in final submissions in September 2016 are Beijing, Bursa, Chongqing, Fangchenggang, Havana, Jeddah, Piccadilly Gardens and First Street Manchester, Mars (which will be explained later!), Salford, Salzburg, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Tabley in Cheshire. At a range of scales and densities of occupation the projects explore the urban dimensions of the architectural intervention, balancing the pragmatic and the conceptual.
The students complement and inform their design projects with a series of student led discussions on the history and theory of urban design from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day, and the writing of dissertations on diverse subjects such as the notion of Smart City as applied in Indore, the questionable claims of public space for the proposed Garden Bridge across the Thames, and on a more philosophical level the misuse and misunderstanding of ‘nature’ by contemporary architects.
To explain that reference to Mars, MA A+U are especially proud this year with the success of Karan Gandhi who graduated in 2015 from the BA ‘Coexistence … in Theory’ studio. Karan’s shortlisted entry for the Mars City Design competition has led to him being given a NASA badge, a Martian passport and the opportunity to develop his proposal further at the University of Southern California during the summer. Also in the summer MA A+U will be participating in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale ‘Reporting from the Front’ with their annual symposium entitled ‘Frontiers of Responsive Architecture’ in June. Follow @FORA2016 for frequent twitter updates.