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Student Shows 2012: Edinburgh School of Architecture

Johnny Rodger sees a fertilisation of ideas and approaches at Edinburgh

The 2009 merger of the two Edinburgh schools – respectively from the College of Art and the University – has led to a very interesting cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches to design. 

In the lower school, on show in Lauriston Place, there is a continuation of the College of Art concentration on exploring the labyrinthine complexity of the layers of settlement that constitute the city of Edinburgh. Suzanne Ewing’s fourth-year unit demonstrates at once a delicacy and rigour with capturing in drawing the architectonic order of the Scottish metropolis.

At diploma level, studies on Fountainbridge and Leith examine the formal make-up of the city zones and the Contemporary Architecture Unit takes a cultural and historical critique to forceful depth, which among other things reveals Hume and Adam as the great demiurges in the cultural creation of the New Town.

At Minto House, the two master’s years add the University’s global and phenomenological concern with ambiences, surfaces, materials and the quality of place to that lower school development of spatial tools. Dorian Wiszniewski’s first year looks at Olbia, Sardinia, as a paradigm for the rural/urban dichotomy with a heavy philosophical and political input.

The final master’s year Venice Unit, tutored by Adrian Hawkes, takes a delightfully sensitive approach to the fragile ecology of the city. There are wonderfully complex and delicate models throughout; projects that aim at reclaiming Venice from the tourists and reconstituting it as a functioning community. Some of these projects emphasise the drift of the city; some, such as Claire Gardiner’s Hortus and Laura Barr’s hospital project, give it needed therapy.

Standout unit

Venice Unit

Standout students

Claire Gardner and Laura Barr

In a word


AJ reviews of every student show in the UK are in AJ26.07.12. Students can subscribe to the AJ for just £82.50.

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