By Professional diploma student Kirsty Cassels.
After a false start to the Professional Diploma in Architecture course last year and therefore already knowing the tutors, some of the existing and new students and what the course consisted of, I was far less nervous than some of my peers might have been turning up to a new course to meet new people and start the next journey on our eventual path to fully qualified architect. Excitement eclipsed the long drive from South West Scotland and the thought of the excellent food for dinner awaiting us on arrival was enough to drive me there on time, picking up some strays on the way! Some of us had arranged lift shares before the course even began through the CAT admin team so I knew this year of people would be just up my street – although not literally. Coming from Scotland I thought I’d be one of the farthest from CAT, but a wide variety of students from all sorts of backgrounds and from all corners of the UK were in attendance. Some students even flying in every month from Germany and Portugal! The very fact that people are willing to travel so far every month to come to CAT is testament to its greatness.
It was a delight to have Chris Lloyn of Lloyn & Co Architects back again this year to host a two day drawing and sketching exercise within the CAT grounds, and we were gifted with lovely sunshine both days. Two days of drawing, painting and sketching in the gorgeous grounds of CAT, I think I can certainly speak on behalf of everyone when I tell you that that was definitely one of the best ways to start a course and get to know the site in more detail. The wealth of talent amongst us all was incredible, and we pinned up in the open area at the end of the week to share with the MSc students and CAT staff. Here is a link to the flickr site with the drawings on.
Some people hadn’t sat down and drawn in a long time and just to get back to that mindset was such an opportunity. Others, who more frequently exercise their creative talents on paper thrived and tried new tricks or refined their style and absolutely every single person’s sketches inspired everyone else.
The Prof Dip students attend most of the lectures that the MSc students were attending but in addition to these, 50% of our course also includes design work with three main projects split over the eighteen month course. The first project was introduced this week and it’s a project close to the hearts of CAT staff especially those living in the vicinity of the CAT site. We will be looking at the Ceinws Camp, which is an old Forestry Commission little village and community situated in Ceinws a small village a few miles from CAT. There is a huge need for affordable housing in such a small rural community and our project has to incorporate affordable rural housing and multi-use flexible community space for community activities, potential work spaces and studios and anything we feel during our research the village would benefit from. The camp is currently not in use bar one resident. It has been out of use for the Forestry Comission for many many years.
We set ourselves out in groups of three or four and split the tasks up so we would all have an area of investigation to go and get on with in our three weeks away from CAT and Ceinws. Topics include topology, history, energy, user requirements, legal issues and political issues surrounding the site. We will return in the October week with a wealth of information to share amongst ourselves that will set us up nicely to begin our design proposals and feasibility studies into the Camp Ceinws project. This project will tackle issues such as energy usage, affordable housing, material selection and resources, renewable and alternative services and community involvement. It’s a unique opportunity to tackle the issues surrounding a small rural village in Wales which no longer has any industry and where a large proportion of the houses are second homes to out of town homeowners. The project in Ceinws will represent many similar rural villages across Wales and the issues they face. We will be looking at how to solve these issues. It’s a great project to kick off our Diploma.
On the last night of each week the Professional Diploma students and the MSc students have a themed social event together giving the opportunity to reunite after a week of potentially separate activities. Following the referendum outcome in Scotland this week I suggested we had a ‘better together’ Scottish themed night incorporating a ceilidh and tug-o-war. It went down a treat and was a lovely way to celebrate the end of a great week, all together and ready to embrace the world with our united views and new found knowledge on how we can begin to build a better world…and their new found ceilidh dancing skills are something to behold too!
The week was emotionally overwhelming, in a good way of course; to be able to meet so many fantastic people, to learn such interesting information and to have constant discussion even in our free time that surrounded the issues we are all interested in collectively was so enthralling and uplifting. It was noted from more than a few students that they felt they’d found where they belong but by the end of the week, that we would be quite happy to return to ‘regular conversations’ about what’s on TV or the latest sport results – if at least for a few days while we absorb everything we’ve learnt! Then it’ll be back to CAT again before we know it, refreshed and ready for the next weeks instalment. Woohoo. Can’t bloody wait!
Bench we built during tea break out of oversized Jenga blocks – it held our weight!!
Matt and Hunter demonstrating the principles of a ‘cantilever’.