Architecture Part 1

Architecture Part 1

The first three years of our Master of Architecture Course provide core skills that are fundamental to the professional role of the Architect. Students learn the basics of good spatial design, the principles of building technology and the essential elements of design theory. The Part 1 course is closely aligned with the requirements of the professional bodies; Successful completion of stage 3 provides an exemption from the RIBA Part 1 examination.

Stage 1

The first semester in Stage 1 is essentially about introducing the students to making and defining space at a human scale and developing their ability to manipulate space through form, geometry and light to create a sense of place and atmosphere. At a skills level, the students must learn to construct orthographic drawings by hand and on CAD and to make physical models in order to explore and communicate design.

In the first project, the students responded to a series of provocations to create full-size spaces defined by their own bodies and two battens 2.4m long. In this way, they could experience and adjust the sense of space described by different geometries to create different senses of place. They then recorded and drew what they had made as orthographic drawings.

The second project SPACE > PLACE > ROOM introduced them to model making and photography and was the first stage in their final project to design a Pavilion for Conversation within the grounds of the university. They explored how two people, and a small group of people, might arrange themselves (sitting) to engage in a “difficult conversation”. From there they designed a room to frame that activity using physical modelling to explore the space, geometry and natural light.

Back to the battens and the next project Articulations in Space asked them, in groups of three, to construct a structural element (bridge or cantilever) using no more than 6 battens and dowel jointing – trying to maximise span. This explored strength, stability, detail design and engaged them all in the workshop.

The last project brought their learning, design and communication skills together to design the Pavilion for Conversation which added servant spaces, approach, arrival and entry to the brief – in other words, a complete piece of architecture!

Stage 1 student work

Stage 3

The third year of the Part 1 course looks at larger and more complex projects than the previous two years. Students bring together knowledge from previous years as well as new knowledge gained from new topics.

Each semester of the design studio brings a different project. In the first semester, students look at an adaptive reuse project. The project this year was for a bar at the heart of the entertainment quarter of Aberdeen. The site at Shiprow had an interesting medieval wall as the boundary to the street and as this is an existing building they had to consider how to deal with the refurbishment and repurposing of the fabric. This raises some interesting technical questions around energy efficiency, structure and construction as well as forcing the students to think about the value of our built heritage.

The second-semester project looks at a larger scale civic project. This is often a new build project set within Aberdeen city centre. Students were asked to engage with the local culture and dialect of Doric, a particular form of Scots spoken in the North-east of Scotland, and to design a cultural centre. The programme of the building was intended to cover all the main aspects of the culture; the recording of the spoken word, the study of the literature, and the performing of music and song.

Stage 3 student work