Make Design Work

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MAKE.DESIGN.WORK One-to-One Construction in Architectural Education A research report for Sheffield School of Architecture by Rebecca Wallace


Contents 5 6 9 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Introduction Sheffield Now Approach How do they do it? Case Study 1 | Sheffield Case Study 2 | UWE Case Study 3 | Studio in the Woods Case Study 4 | Hooke Park Case Study 5 | Cardiff Case Study 6 | Reading Case Study 7 | Norway Case Study 8 | RTU Moving forward Option 1 | Small Option 2 | Medium Option 3 | Large Option 4 | Mix Recommendations Conclusions Acknowledgements Bibliography Appendix



Introduction This report has been created to show the findings from research I have conducted into 1:1 making and testing as a part of a SURE research grant. The research undertaken has built upon work from previous years by student researchers and staff at SSoA. The culture of design through making has been underexplored in the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield; hopefully this report will contribute to taking the steps needed for this type of education in the future – making a real impact on learning and teaching in the school. 5

Sheffield Now Currently, students at the Sheffield School of Architecture are very concept driven, creating drawings and three dimensional CAD models that convey the aesthetic and construction of a building. But knowledge on how these buildings are actualised is a different matter. From my experience so far, we have been given little direction into how to properly survey a site, and students are almost instantly fixed to their computers to download online topographical data to make their site models. We have lectures and read about the physical properties of materials and how to make buildings structurally sound and make small scale models of these buildings, but these only mimic the aesthetics of these materials. As a school we are making great advances in changing the way we think about architecture, but not so much in changing the way students practice architecture. We are stuck in the mindset of working in the studio environment; absorbing information from books and online, drawing up plans and sections and working on CAD models, but spend very little time experimenting with material, their properties and how they relate to a place. The MArch Live Projects have attempted to approach this issue: setting real constraints, responding to budget, brief and time. In each project there is regular contact with the client and a defined end result, normally a presentation and a report – very rarely a built structure. There is obviously a gap within our education for this type of learning, which I believe could also strengthen the impact of future MArch Live Projects as well as developing our construction knowledge and the way we practice architecture.


Arts Tower Photo by Yiming Liu

Need for an alternative education Architects have a responsibility in society, now more than ever, to deliver innovative solutions to issues in the built environment that go beyond building. To do this we must first re-establish what it means to be an architect and with that break down the hierarchies within the profession to make architects more approachable.

It is no wonder that the architectural education system is spitting out creative and intelligent inviduals who are nonetheless completely unprepared to interact with other professionals with different professional priorities. - Ben Hancock Former SSoA Student

Historically, architecture and construction were a lot more integrated than they are today. With the modernist way of thinking in defining the role of the architect and the development of professional qualifications, this gap has widened. Furthermore, this way of working has entered our education system and architecture students find themselves working gruelling hours, alone, on drawings in their studios, rarely engaging with the outside world or developing any real life experience. Architecture students face high-stress environments where they feel pressured into getting things right first time due to paying high fees and facing short deadlines. The creative freedom to experiment with the process of designing and building or see them realised at full scale is something that is often overlooked. It has been proven that experiential learning has a higher impact on students’ education than any other form of learning. It has been proven in other universities that learning through building can offer this type of education and bridge the gaps between architect, builder and contractor, as well as developing students’ understanding of and ability to work in practice and on site. Focusing less on the aesthetics of the final product and taking a process-centred way of working and learning could push the boundaries of what is possible.


Key Objectives The key objectives of this research project were to find out what and how other schools of architecture and practices are doing one to one construction projects and analyse the opportunities and limitations of the way these projects are set out. This research will form a basis for scoping how we can move forward with this type of education at Sheffield School of Architecture. The aim was to find out how projects have been integrated into the taught courses at other schools, how long they run for and where they are located in the world. Issues with health and safety and insurance are a main concern for these types of projects, so with this in mind I tried to find out as much as possible about how other organisations tackle this issue. I sought to find out how these projects benefit students’ learning and how it has impacted future careers. Tutor input and dedication was another objective; unlike other live projects, design-build requires careful attention and skill-sharing from professionals. The overall aim was to find out as much as possible about how and why these projects have been set up in the way that they are to understand what options are available for the students at Sheffield.

“It frustrates me that the various construction education systems do very little to encourage interdisciplinary understanding and experience... The only answer I have found is to take a zig-zag path through education and practice” - Ben Hancock Carpenter Oak Studio in the Woods attendee 8

Approach The brief was to examine the range of one-to-one construction opportunities offered to university students within the UK and abroad, focusing on universities and organisations that apply this type of educational system. For the purposes of this research I have identified one-to-one construction projects that fall under two main categories: live projects and design-build projects. Parameters of the research I have made initial proposals for moving forward in this sector but due to the time constraints of my research, further analysis will be needed into how such projects may fit into the course structure, how the funding would be sourced and who will oversee the projects. This report is a snapshot of what could happen at Sheffield School of Architecture and the benefits of this type of educational framework at Sheffield Desk-based research included data collection through online research, building case studies and gathering relevant information from online journals. Qualitative research I conducted face-to-face, telephone and email interviews to assist with data gathering and gain more in-depth insight into the projects undertaken by the organisations, selecting a variety of cases to scope the different approached taken to constructional education. Audio and visual footage of the interviews can be made available on request.


10 key benefits of learning by building 1. Bespoke manufacture; non-standard design 2. Gain greater awareness of process and material 3. Hands-on / tactile experience = better understanding of appropriateness of design 4. Better understanding of design methodologies and tools 5. Purposeful play / serious fun / experimentation = new revolutions 6. Small-scale prototyping for wider application 7. Collaborative, team building, community building 8. Integrity of design concept to realization / connectivity of stages 9. Design complexity 10. Proof of concept – process rather than product

Comparison of studio based projects to live projects


First year interim review at Sheffield Photo by Ramon Roman

Reasons for selecting case studies From the data I collected I have selected 8 case studies to analyse in further detail to give examples of the range of projects being undertaken in this field. Examples include university-organised projects from Undergraduate to MArch, Summer schools both in the UK and Europe, specialised courses for 1:1 making, and design and build studios run by universities. The table below shows the different types of projects and how they are organised. See appendix for condensed spreadsheet of potential case studies (full text is available on request).

Organiser Sheffield UWE Studio in the Woods Hooke Park Cardiff Reading Oslo (AHO) Riga (RTU)

Educational Organisation Curricular (C) Extra-Curricular (E) C C, E E C C C C E

Budget Client-Funded (CF) Sponsorship (S) Self-Funded (SF) CF (ÂŁ600) S SF S S S CF, S, SF SF

Timescale Days (D) Weeks (W) Months (M) Years (Y) 6W W,M D D,W,Y D,W D M W

Product Analytical (A) Propositional (Pr) Temporary (T) Semi-Permenant (SP) Permenant (P) A, Pr, P P, SP, T, Pr T, SP A,T,P T T P P, SP,T

External Collaborator Self-Initiated (SI) Collaboration (Cl) Comissioned (Cm) Cm SI, Cl, SI, Cl,


Brief Student + Tutor (ST) Student + Researcher (SR) Research Students + Tutor (RT) Students (S) ST ST, S S ST, S ST, S ST ST ST, S

Student Level Foundation (F) Undergraduate (U) Postgraduate (P) Group Size Research (R ) 10,15 P 10,50 P, U 12,15 1, 5, 50 P,R 1, P 10,50 U 12,25 P 30,40 11

Case Study | Live Works (SSoA)

Location: Sheffield Organiser: Various




It is without doubt that Sheffield Live Projects offer a wealth of real life experiences for its MArch students. The programme is strongly focused on participation and community engagement but is lacking in constructional experimentation and material understanding. The most successful built projects are situated in Ecclesall Woods where students worked with a local timber sculpture specialist to create their designs using an onsite saw mill. Live Projects at Sheffield were first initiated by Prue Chiles in 1999, the first ever project was a design-build for a local school, since then very few of these types of projects have been undertaken. Issues of time constraints, funding and supervision of health and safety on site are all contributing factors to this.

• Clients are not left with unwanted structures through unskilled craftsmanship • Strong participation ethic • Close partnerships are developed throughout the city • Budget of £600 supplied by client gives students a responsibility to spend it wisely (builds care and trust) • Close working relationships with clients helps give a greater understanding of architecture through participation and consultation • Offer a range of different project experiences that are defined by the students’ interests and capabilities

• Short timescale means students do not have time to develop skills in construction and build quality/safe structure • No (known) funding/budget available for students to experiment with materials at a large scale • Lack of support from university in training/development of construction skills • University has high expectations of health and safety but provide little support to train students to execute tasks safely • Lack of technical support


“I think we need to be critical of design-build… the last thing a client needs is a slightly schlocky structure built too quickly by inexperienced people that they then have to maintain and use” - Carolyn Butterworth Live Works Director

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Integrated into MArch course structure £600 supplied by client (issue with fairness of projects – Client with ‘deeper pocket’ may have a better project) 10-17 students (12-14 ideal) 6 weeks: week 1 – meet team and clients; week 2 – finalise brief; week 3/4 – design, participate; week 5/6 – refine, draw up, finalise and present Very little support currently Currently very little application Through report, presentation and reflection

Key Words Socially engaged Participation

Links: 13

Case Study | Hands on Bristol (UWE)

Info Hands on Bristol is a collaboration between Architecture Students at the University of the West of England, Bristol School of Architecture and the Bristol community. It seeks to encourage knowledge exchange between educational programmes and local communities through the application of live projects. Their definition of a live project is “a form of spatial agency which involves a community or not-forprofit organisation in collaboration with architects and/or architecture students to co-create a brief, timescale, budget, product and process for their mutual benefit, with the intention of making a positive impact in these communities. Their 14

main focus is participation but all projects contain aspects of building.” The projects that are actualised into built forms are not always completed within the university framework but operate on a voluntary basis outside of university. The main elements of construction are done within the university workshop or occasionally on site, depending on the type and scale of construction. I met with Rachel Sara, MArch programme leader at the University of the West of England and Sally Daniels from Tangent Fields to find out more about the work they have been doing in implementing these projects.

Location: Bristol Organiser: Rachel Sara (UWE), Sally Daniels (Tangent Fields)



• Participatory • Team building • Community engagement – reshaping how people think about space • Fluid way of working – utilising available materials and accessing sites; repurposing waste/scrap • Student-driven – tutors oversee multiple projects but the majority of design and build is led by students. • Collaboration with client, community and architectural practices • Real experience with budgets, clients and the limitations of the real world

• Students sometimes lack the construction skills to build safe structures • Short timescales mean most of the building happens outside of the university course structure, on a voluntary basis • Can be difficult to retain volunteers • Not everything they do can work within the curriculum • Small scale structures – not necessarily architectural construction but contribute to communicating an idea • Limitations of what you can do within university due to health and safety concerns with unpredictability and chaos

“When you are making it is easy for the design ambition to be reduced. We are often looking for clever techniques that take something ordinary and make it special. More often we end up with things a bit more ordinary” - Rachel Sara

“The difficulty is when you are going to build something that gets left behind, which could potentially fall down. This method becomes costly because you have to pay the people to take on the liability. But it allows us to be a lot more flexible” - Sally Daniels

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Various – MArch live projects, voluntary builds Application to multiple funding providers help create a budget for students to work with, the rest of the work is done voluntarily utilising as much reclaimed material as possible 4/5 students per groups. “We usually have around 10 projects happening at one time. Some are new and some are ongoing” 8-10 Weeks Trained health and safety advisors/people working in the construction field work with students on site to ensure safe working practices Obtained externally with partner practices like Tangent Fields. Students are insured through University. Report, presentation, response to brief

Key Words Participation Fluid Subversive anti-capital model Reclaimed materials Links:

http://www.hands-on-bristol. 15

Case Study | Studio In The Woods

Info Studio in the Woods is an annual summer workshop established in 2006 by Invisible Studio. The workshop aims to bring together architects, students, engineers, makers and anyone else with an interest in the field to come together for an immersive four-day experience, away from the city and traditional office environment to work together in teams to design and build installations at one-toone scale, on site, led by practicing architects. This workshop is set out to deliver practical hands-on skills that you do not find in mainstream architectural education, with the addition of guest lectures and food. The event intends to deliver a 16

‘concentrated learning experience’ whereby networking, architectural discussion and the evolution of ideas can occur. The experience takes participants out of the city and into the woods where they become immersed in an intensive environment, learning, sharing skills, experiences and stories over an intensive design-make program, guest lectures and shared meals.

Location: Various Organiser: Invisible Studio



• • • • •

• Only available to those who can afford it • Doesn’t engage with the city (but it does allow you to move outside of the hustle and bustle of the city; clearer vision) • Can be seen externally as not serious – if not properly understood • Can only work in the environment it is set in – would be difficult to apply to a city setting • Summer schools are good but having a formal structure allows for real learning and development to occur • Designs are realised but often not used/functional after they have been constructed

• • • • • • • •

Encourages diversity Encourages collaboration Allows networking Non-standard Can operate outside of formal framework Reconnect with nature Gets people out of the studio / office Working on site with real materials Experimental – alternative ways of working Cannot negatively impact client/ community A way to explore/play/have some fun Process-orientated, not product Skills exchange/development

Ted Culinan peering through a structure Photo by Jim Stevenson

Birds-eye view of the drawgons nest Photo by Jim Stevenson

“This act of getting together in summertime sharing knowledge eating together, going to talks and talking to one another, learning from one another, being in one place without the rest of the world as a distraction, is incredibly potent” - Piers Taylor

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Summer School £225 to attend (materials, lunch and dinner provided) 12-24 4 days, Thursday – Sunday, early July Trained health and safety advisors, first aiders and structural engineers/ builders are on site to help and advise in safe working practices Event and site / Invisible Studio N/A

Key Words Immersive Process not product Material Beauty out of simplicity Links: selected_work/studio-in-thewoods/ 17

Case Study | Hooke Park

Location: Dorset Organiser: Architectural Association




Hooke Park is the Architectural Association’s (AA) woodland site in Dorset. It is home to a growing educational facility for design-and-make activities focusing on construction and the environment. The site is used for three main activities: visits from London-based units, the Design + Make graduate school programme, and for visiting school short courses. The Design + Make programme will be the main focus of this study. The Design + Make programme offers a laboratory for architectural research through 1:1 making. The 16-month course offers skills in digital fabrication, use of tools and machinery and design through making.

• Synthesis of digital and physical design and fabrication • Course is structured to give the students the skills to design and build at full scale by first prototyping and group work • Immersive learning environment • Experimental – looking at new innovations in construction • Summer build opportunities are available for students and practitioners outside the AA (assist in large scale building operations, workshops and lectures)

• Not easily replicable - designed facility for this type of education • Relies on a lot of available funding • Groups of students having never worked together can create tensions – especially when only one idea can be carried forward

“The benefits are that when you see something at one to one scale in the flesh, its always different to looking at a 3d cad model. It’s about the materiality, you instantly learn about the weight and properties of a material.” - Charley Brentnall


“At Hooke Park, the main emphasis is on the designing and making; people are aiming for high quality but that is actually subordinate to the actual design. It would be possible to do well there with a structure that may well fail. It’s the thought process and ability to conceptualise that is most important” - Charley Brentnall

Type Cost/ Funding

MArch Programme • MArch – £35,507 (+£95 membership + living costs) • Summer Build – £495 (+£60 membership; bursary available for exceptional student)

Size of groups Timescale

Various • MArch – 16 months (full programme)

Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

• Summer Build – 4 Weeks (workshop) PPE provided & trained professionals on site at all times Provided by university MArch – Portfolio and individual thesis

Key Words Experimental Full scale functional building Prototyping Links:

http://hookepark.aaschool. 19

Case Study | Unit XV (WSoA)

Location: Cardiff Organiser: Kate Derby



or it could be an actual 1:1 construction detail – a small part of a larger building. Students work The 1:1 scale construction work on an individual basis designing undertaken by students at the Welsh School of Architecture was their own pieces, which are always site specific. They use what they inspired by the work Kate Darby had undertaken with Studio in the have learned from the process to inform a larger scale project for Woods. The question was “how could we apply the lessons learned their thesis. from an intense design and make activity into a longer Masters course?” The course she has developed over the past few years has been to get students to build a large-scale piece that they call a “constructed fragment”. It could be either a primer that forms an idea about materials or how you make/design something,

• Focus is on material and place • • Working on site – in the woods (timber) or with fabricators (metal) • Training for working with the materials and using tools is provided • Students often build the fragment • • Working with fabricators and different materials • Supported through university through funding/allocated budget for everyone • Material specification and selection – choosing what type of cut you want the • miller to cut from your wood selection • Offers the opportunity to work and experiment with materials and process without being heavily focused on the • finished product. • Process of making informs a larger design project /thesis

“Constructed Fragments”


Con’s Not assessed as a separate module – meaning that even if the fragment is good but the overall project isn’t as effective they don’t get the recognition for the thing they have built Individuals working on their own project do not get a sense of working as a team; it is hard to assess group work and that is why it is done in this way, but it is something they are looking to change in the upcoming years Structures are only on site for a few days and are then removed and taken to the university for review and the degree show Although they are installed on a site they do not fully engage with the place because they are only temporary.

“There is this visceral thrill of people enjoying making that you don’t get when it’s fabricators making it for you” - Kate Darby

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Integrated into MArch course structure Budgeted through university, works out at around £300 per student 1 person per project 4 weeks designing, 6-7 days making, informs a 1-year project Working with skilled craftsmen and gain training to use tools and safe working practices. Provided through the university Critics are invited to view the pieces in their location. It then has a second review in university presented with their larger scale building proposal

Key Words Constructed fragments Informs larger scale design project Links: unit-xv-welsh-school-of-architecture.html 21

Case Study | Reading School of Architecture




Reading University offer the opportunity to work on live construction projects delivered by Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio. They explore ideas whilst working with industry partners and experienced architects. Their main focus is creating something spectacular out of simple materials and techniques. This means students of very low skill level can be involved in every aspect of the project. The new architecture department has so far completed two design-build projects in both first and second year of the undergraduate program. It intends to proceed throughout all year groups as a way of developing architectural education.

• The projects are offered from first year and carried out through every year of study • No-paper architecture • Teamwork • University encourages the work they are doing • Complexity from simplicity • Build skills in a safe environment • Small scale; easily fits within the course structure (in first and second year)

• Project is financially supported by the university which can be costly • It can be hard for people outside the course structure to back it due to the fact you don’t know what the final product is going to turn out like • Still in its infancy


Location: Reading Organiser: Piers Taylor

“By introducing making as a part of the design process you have an opportunity to explore a whole world of shape and form and understand the relationship between components that you cannot otherwise access.� - Piers Taylor

"Working on this year's built structure was an excellent opportunity to learn many things, including working with timber and making timber joints and pegs on-site, but also learning from Piers Taylor's expertise. Building a performance space for a real client enabled us to think about movement and space at a real scale and I am glad I got to be a part of this great experience." - Rawan Alwahaibi BSc (Hons) Architecture student

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety

Insurance Assessment

Integrated into course (varying levels) Funded through University 10-50 5-6 days Piers Taylor and Charley Brentnall (Carpenter Oak) worked as contractors for the university, supplying all PPE and leading the program. Charley is health and safety trained and has skills working on site with materials and can offer a wealth of knowledge and experience University paid for Piers and Charley to work as contractors under their insurance Part of technology module

Key Words No-paper architecture Beauty in simplicity Links: 23

Case Study | Scarcity and Creativity Studio (AHO)

Location: Oslo Organiser: Christian Hermansen




The Scarcity and Creativity Studio (SCS) is a design and build studio based within the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. The studio’s aim is to expose students to the full architectural process: from interacting with clients to building their designs, focusing on how drawings are translated into buildings. They seek challenging contexts in which the designs that are developed can be actualised through creativity and make the most of scarce resources. The way their programme is structured is quite interesting as it seeks to break down individual ownership of project ideas through a system set out in 4 phases, where authors of chosen projects are excluded from working on them for the next phase, and then come together at the end of the design process to build the structure. The studio operates within the two year MArch framework under an elective system. The structures are built around the world and aim to satisfy the needs of community rather than private needs.

• Set up as specialist design-build programme – optional to MArch students • The end structures are used and valued in communities • Structure breaks down ownership of design – giving greater focus and appreciation for teamwork • Students get to learn and understand complications of building real buildings/ gaining planning permission. • Supportive university • On-site construction training • Award-winning designs

• Takes a lot of organisation, training and supervision – especially on site • Health and Safety is a lot more relaxed outside of UK • Costs of travel to sites, accommodation (international) and materials can be quite costly


“ In conditions of scarcity, a creative attitude can lead to more appropriate solutions” - Christian Hermansen

“In posing the question of the relationship between scarcity and creativity, the studio has no illusion of coming up with an answer; the question is there as a guide to practice, an aspiration which is considered anew in each project� - Christian Hermansen

Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Design-build studio operating within university structure Sponsorship/paid by client 12-25 students, organised according to tasks 18 weeks (see diagram of process) On-site health and safety training and risk assessment Operating as business model / through university Unknown

Key Words Scarcity and creativity Resource utilisation Links: scarcityandcreativity/ 25

Case Study | Riga Technical University International Summer School




The RTU International Summer School, introduced in 2012, offered the opportunity of a hands-on learning approach to urbanism, architecture and design. Their aim was to help students gain a deeper understanding of space, scale, users, materials, construction techniques, teamwork and timing. The Summer School is organised by FOLD, a platform for Latvian creative industries. RTU provide credits to participants and help access funding programmes. Once the structures are built the client maintains them but they are monitored by FOLD, so if the structures are no longer safe, functional or visually attractive they are demolished. The summer school ran yearly up until 2016, and may hopefully return in the future.

• International – introduces new people to the city • Locals are invited to participate in the closing event • Working with community and client and building • Timescale allows for design analysis, refinement and small-scale build • Develops skills not just in construction but also in groupwork and communication • Develops a sense of responsibility for design • Training in construction is delivered • Good relationships are formed with local municipality • Holistic approach to architecture, construction and urbanism

• 2016 was the last time the event happened • Health and safety legislation is more relaxed than in the UK • Funding – can be difficult to source • Accommodation for a large group of people is hard to find • Storing materials and a place to work (i.e. workshop) can be difficult to find • Adverse weather can slow down production.


Location: Various Organiser: FOLD

“When we introduced this format there weren’t as many opportunities to build 1:1 as there are now.” - Evelina Ozola FOLD

Key Words Type Cost/ Funding Size of groups Timescale Health and Safety Insurance Assessment

Summer School Unknown 2-4 groups, 12-14 participants per group , guided by 2-3 tutors 2 weeks: 1 week design/analysis, 1 week build Instruction on work safety and PPE provided Provided by FOLD Assessed by community and credits are provided to students through RTU

International Architecture and urbanism Links:

https://www.rtusummerschool. lv/ 27

I have seen many detail drawings by students that are impossible to build due to not thinking though the order of construction or indeed how a material behaves in the real world. - Lynton Pepper Architecture 00

What’s missing in Sheffield? It is evident from the research undertaken that a facility where opportunities for design-build can occur is needed. There are obvious limitations to this due to cost and the required level of supervision. In order to enhance our skills in 1:1 construction, proper training must take place if we are to build quality, safe structures. The following pages outline a few recommendations of ways of moving forward with this type of learning. 28

Having followed through a design from seeing it in its early design stages, to then actually helping to build it and seeing it standing up is something you don’t get to see on the course. We haven’t done any hands-on construction so far and from what I know it’s not a huge part of many courses in the UK which is a shame. I hope to bring a lot of the aspects from what I have learned to do with construction to my future studio projects. - Grace Byrne CAUKIN volunteer BA Architecture (UoS)


Option | Small Working within the course structure

Working outside the course structure

Space Hacking

Society-organised construction opportunities

In the second semester of the year one undergraduate course, a two-week project occurs where students write their own brief, design and build a structure and place it in the city for people to interact with. This module could be developed further with a clearer focus on specific structural and constructional skills, techniques and materials, much like the projects undertaken at Reading University

The Humanitarian Architecture Society (HAS) has already made small steps towards organising events to aid in constructional education and helping communities. This year they organised a visit to Hill Hold Wood, a social enterprise near Lincoln, where they completed a three-day level two BTEC in straw bale construction. With the help of the society one to one construction experience could be organised for the students, by the students. The aim would be to organise events where people can get involved in constructional education.

Pro’s • The framework is already in place for this type of learning to be developed • It would introduce students into thinking about materials and processes from year one Con’s • It would require more tutor input than what is already in place • Funding for materials would be required unless they can be donated by local businesses • Site supervision and health and safety checks would require additional costs *note that Space Hacking used to be Matter Reality which did focus on building with a specific material


Pro’s • These types of events would have short timescales • Events could fit around the course structure • They would be relatively low cost Con’s • Could interfere with students’ coursework • May not get enough people to attend due to commitment to course • Community-focused events would need more supervision and funding if a structure is to be built

Option | Medium Working within the course structure

Working outside the course structure


Design-Build Summer School

Based on the case studies conducted it is evident that a medium-scale build project can easily be undertaken within the university framework with the right funding, organisation and supervision in place. Sheffield could set up optional modules that develop students’ skills in construction through learning-bybuilding. It has been proven that Sheffield University is capable of undertaking projects like this through case study one. Students could build a small element that informs a larger body of work or they could work in groups to design and build a whole structure. The projects would not necessarily work with clients but look at engaging more with working with material suppliers, fabricators and builders.

Implementing a design-build summer school in Sheffield would be a great way to test out new ways of working. There is the Peak District at our doorstep, many disused sites around the city, and Ecclesall Woods have a saw mill in place where we could easily experiment with timber – if it was to happen in Sheffield. Another option would be to organise a summer school elsewhere in the UK or even abroad, however ethics would need to be carefully considered if we were to take this type of work abroad. It could work in either a rural or urban setting.

Pro’s • A longer project (4-6 weeks) would allow students to develop a design through the process of making • Relationships could be developed with local material suppliers and fabricators that (potentially) sponsor the projects • Students are given the freedom to experiment with materials without the worry of it having a negative effect on a community group or non-profit organisation

Pro’s • Welcomes people to experience working with the University of Sheffield and could create new prospective students • Increases diversity within the school by creating a mixture of architecture and non-architecture students • It creates an immersive environment where mistakes can be made, and skills are shared without the stresses of being assessed through a formal course structure

Con’s • More supervision than those of current modules would be required due to increased health and safety risk, but a one-day training event could remove a lot of the risks involved • Additional funding would be required to undertake such projects, but this could be sourced through applications to funding bodies • Structures would not be used after construction which means materials would be wasted unless reclaimed materials are used and the brief is designed to address issues of material scarcity or looks to utilise what would otherwise be waste material – Studio in the Woods 2018 is a good example of this

Con’s • “Summer schools are good but having that formal structure allows for real learning and development to occur” - Piers Taylor • Students already pay high fees to attend university, the added cost to attend summer schools to acquire this type of education benefits only those who can afford it. • It would require the time of university staff and other contributors outside of university and working hours which may be difficult to coordinate and potentially costly


Option | Large Build and Test facility Learning from projects undertaken by Hooke Park (AA) and Scarcity and Creative studio (AHO) the opportunity to design and build a fully functional building could be undertaken with the right funding and support in place. A design and build facility set up in the city would provide students with a building and site where further construction education could occur. One way of instigating this type of build would be to integrate the design stage as a part of the course where students could work with architects, engineers and contractors to design a facility for future testing and learning of constructional techniques. The structure could then be built by volunteers over the summer, set up as a summer school. The project could be funded in a similar way to how other new university buildings are funded and could act as a great asset to the Architecture department for obtaining future students. Pro’s • The building would be a legacy for the students: a university building built for the students, by the students. This would also be a great marketing tool to obtain prospective students • It would give students real experience of working in practice. It would build relationships with architecture practices, engineers and contractors • As a permanent structure the building and surrounding site would then be used to educate students and allow them to test the performance of the building and could also be designed in such a way that it could evolve over time. Con’s • The project would span over a year which could be difficult to fit into the curriculum • It would take a lot of supervision at every stage of the project and would need constant surveillance • Initial costs to design and build a structure would be high, however these costs could be earned back through future programmes or events undertaken in the new facility 32

A similar project has been undertaken at Brighton University where they developed a ‘living laboratory’ for ecological architectural design. They called it the Brighton Waste House. To find out more go to:

Option | Mix

Start small build big The final option would not to be to conform to one system of working but offer a variety of opportunities for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of construction. By developing training opportunities for students in health and safety and tool use, risks can be minimised on site and in the workshops and give students a starting place if they have had no prior experience in building. Once some basic skills have been developed students will then be prepared to test out their designs at one-to-one scale and develop their skills further and share them with each other. Partnering with an external practice would allow students to then take their skills outside university into the city where students can participate in community build projects that are supported by the university. Students would be able to distribute their roles according to their skill level and personal interests. The system would be fluid, learning from the case studies but adopting our own style. Staff and students could actively seek out a range of opportunities and see them through from start to finish, constantly reflecting on the experiences to enable future growth.

Pro’s • By starting small and experimenting with different ways of working, students can define their own interests and ways of working • If the projects are a success and nurtured over time it becomes proof that a larger scale project can occur, reducing the concern attributed to large scale spending • Students are given the opportunity to develop their skills in a controlled environment before going out and building things for the community, reducing the risk of a “slightly schlocky structure” being left for clients to maintain Con’s • Initial setup may require financial support, but as the case studies prove these types of projects get a lot of recognition and can win future support from funders • Organising programs to fit into or around course structures could prove difficult but they can be developed as proven by the already existing live projects at Sheffield. By starting small you can then gauge how important this type of education is for students. 33

Recommendations “Working with communities to build things helps build communities. It also helps people understand that you don’t have to accept what you are given. For designers, it helps them understand what is important to people, rather than dictating a presumption. It also helps designers to problem solve with agility – having to utilise whatever is around or find smart solutions to problems in tight corners.” - Lynton Pepper Architecture 00

Recommendations for alternative actions 1. The Global Free Unit Initiated by Professor Robert Mull of Brighton University – the Global Free Unit forms a new international network of academic partners and live project “classrooms”. These “classrooms” have a emphasis on issues of migration, social justice and cohesion, scarcity and identity. Studio in the Woods is now a part of this network and it is growing. Unfortunately not much information regarding this new network is available but I believe it is worth exploring further. 2. Grants for volunteer opportunities and summer schools There are many opportunities available now for students to get involved with summer-build projects, however these opportunities can be quite costly and not all students can afford to attend them. Cardiff University offers grants for their students to attend these events and maybe Sheffield should investigate acquiring funding to do the same. This would take minimal organisation on the university’s part but show support for the students to undertake the kind of education they are looking for. 34

Research Questions to develop the method Further Research Recommendations • More in-depth research into student experiences • Further research into available funding • Further research into timetabling • Research into building partnerships with material suppliers and fabricators across the city • Create website/blog of findings and make it available for staff and students • Create short film with audio and visual footage

Academic Environment Which modules are suitable for the use of live (construction) projects? Aims and Objectives What kind of knowledge, skills and abilities need to be promoted with live projects? Setting the Brief/Design Problem and Choosing the Context What type of design problem would encourage student engagement? What aspects of the context could serve to motivate students? Expected Outcomes Who would be the main participants of the live projects and what would be their role? How would the participants benefit from the experience? Methods What stages would the live construction project comprise? What resources and constraints would be needed to develop the projects? Assessment What kind of attitudes, scholarly approaches and results would be expected? How would this be evaluated?


SWOT Analysis of 1:1 as SSoA

It cannot be emphasised enough how much learning by building would strengthen architectural education. This type of education will not only build better relationships between architects and builders in the future, but it will allow for advancement of the profession through a better understanding of the whole building process.



• Strong relationships with current partners in Sheffield and UK • A pool of talented students that are socially engaged • Sheffield – the city of makers

• Lack of funding resources/help • Lack of professional support • Lack of dedicated time to organise events • Building/making is currently considered separate from architecture • Health and safety regulations constrain opportunity to build large scale

I have identified a number of exceptional examples of design-build projects from the UK and Europe but it is evident that there is still a huge gap in this type of learning due to the lack of support and resources available. At Sheffield we already have made efforts to push this kind of education through building networks and relationships, but it also needs time, attention and funding to back it up. In-depth interviews with specialist architects in this field have revealed a shared frustration with the education system whilst undertaking their studies, and these architects have made their own efforts to create a vibrant network of like-minded people to push forward this educational framework and way of working. Many students do not have the skills, contacts or resources to undertake this type of learning by themselves, but if we work collectively to promote the benefits of experiential learning through construction we can begin to reshape the way students work, moving them out of the studio and into the real world.

Opportunities • Collaboration with external organisations • Build a stronger network of contacts who are interested in this field of work • Wider dialogue with the broader city infrastructure • Students can explore different ways of working and learning • Bring real change to disadvantaged communities, charities and NPO’s that could not necessarily afford similar work professionally • Expand the field of architecture • Win awards • Recognition as a student and university • Build future relationships • Diversity • Students develop a better understanding of material and place

Threats • Levels of support and financing available in this type of education to enable growth • UK regulations make organisations cautious of undertaking this type of work, or they see it as too time-heavy


Acknowledgements Research was funded by The University of Sheffield SURE Scheme and commissioned by the School of Architecture. Special thanks to Mark Parsons for supervising the project and providing me with guidance and support. For contributing to the research I would like to thank: Carolyn Butterworth | SSoA/Live Works Piers Taylor | Invisible Studio Kate Derby | WSoA Rachel Sara | UWE Sally Daniels | Tangent Fields Charley Brentnall | Carpenter Oak/Hooke Park Tutor Christian Hermansen | Scarcity and Creative Studio Evelina Ozola | FOLD Lynton Pepper | Architecture 00 Ania Wozniczka-Wells | SSoA Student Ben Hancock | Former SSoA/WSoA Student / Studio in the Woods attendee Grace Byrne | SSoA Student / CAUKIN attendee


Bibliography Carpenter, W. and Hoffman, D. (1997). Learning by building. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Harriss, H. and Widder, L. (n.d.). Architecture live projects. Routledge. Kolb, D. (2015). Experiential learning. Upper Saddle River (New Jersey): Pearson Education Ltd. Morrow, R. (2014). Live Project love: building a framework for Live Projects. In H. Harriss, & L. Widder (Eds.), Skotte, H. (2013). Learning by Building. Architectural Review, 234(1400), p.88. Zunaibi, A. (n.d.). Getting Their Hands Dirty: Qualitative Study on Handson Learning for Architectural Students in Design-build Course. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. 37





* An ongoing expanded version of this spreadsheet is available on request, please contact Mark Parsons or Rebecca Wallace to access the document.


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