The second year of the Bachelor of Architecture aims to foster students’ autonomy and constitutes a crucial step in their critical thinking and development; this year was supported by a return to in-person studio teaching, and by the reciprocal benefits of an interactive and inclusive ‘studio culture’.

The emergence from the virtual to the physical learning environment has been key this year to (re-) acquire an appreciation of space, investigated and experienced through site and study visits to the Greater Manchester area and London. This has been underpinned by a continuous thread of Studio lectures, designed to inform, inspire and broaden knowledge and to offer the possibility to question.

The Studio projects were based on research by design, encouraging students to deliver the key considerations of Position, Proposition and Proposal whilst addressing matters of local and global concern in both their specific response to a site and to wider issues of sustainability. Studio briefs were designed to nurture students’ curiosity and to stimulate synthesis between Humanities, Technologies and design, while raising awareness of current architectural and urban debates. The Humanities and Technologies units along with Studio Skills workshops, in synergy with Studio units, collectively interrogate the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of architecture and the built and natural environments within the second-year curriculum.

Studio 2

Studio 2.1

Nourishing the Community

The 2.1 Studio brief centred on the environmental and sustainability issues of food production and consumption, education, and the marketplace. Students were able to choose one of two sites in Manchester city centre. Both sites were associated with strong examples of built context, suggesting both specific constraints and latent opportunities on architectural solutions. With a climate emergency as a priority, the projects also celebrate both local food and cultural diversity. Students were asked to design a School of Cooking with associated Food Hall, and Market. The outcomes show not just a creative reflection on new ways of consumption and urban regeneration, but also a broad range of cultural approaches to the topic.

Studio 2.2

Playhouse, Arthouse, Dancehouse: A Community for Housing Performers

With focus shifting more specifically to societal diversity and sustainability, especially in the wake of the pandemic, the 2.2 brief required students to consider urban infill or ‘backlands’ sites within Ancoats, a district with a well-documented societal history in connection to the growth of industrial Manchester, and in a more contemporary sense to explore the myriad alternative creative communities in and around the area. In this regard, students were asked to design housing for members of the performing arts community that would creatively explore the notion of ‘dwelling’ in tandem with the rehearsal, practice, or other exploration of inhabitants’ art.