Architecture student shines at national intellectual design challenge



A final year Architecture student from Robert Gordon University has been recognised for his overall contribution at a national design challenge.

Aberdeen local and Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment student, Rowan Morrice (22), recently took part in the inaugural session of a winter school programme organised by the influential architects and commentators behind the 2008 Manifesto Towards a New Humanism in Architecture (ManTowNHuman).

Titled \’Critical Subjects\’, the two-day winter school took place on 17 and 18 November at The Kowalsky Gallery, Islington, London. It provided a unique opportunity for 26 architecture and design students out of 157 applicants from across the UK to engage in a series of intellectual architectural design challenges that explored the topics of visionary architecture, social criticism and historical thinking.

The intensive event ran non-stop over 26 hours. Day one consisted of a series of debates addressing topics such as critical thinking, beauty, integrity, architecture social policy, classicism and proportion. For each topic three influential speakers presented and led an hour-long discussion. Speakers included architects, engineers, film critics, economists, classical music critics, political advisors, artists, academics, journalists and philosophers.

After the day of debate the students were set into pairs to undertake an overnight design project based on the theoretical ideas discussed during the previous day. These projects were then presented to a panel of leading architectural commentators, academics and practitioners in the morning.

Each project was to be based around a series of manifestos from the 20th century. The student teams had to select one of the manifestos and then design \”A Place to Live\” in Brighton, which either promoted the manifesto, or reacted against it.

Rowan\’s particular project followed the \”Futurist Manifesto\” from the year 1909. He and his partner designed a tower which was a circular service core (lifts, stairs, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and structure) to which a series of mobile \’modules\’ could be attached (kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and so on). The hypothetical design would allow people to build and expand their homes as necessary and even move the location of their homes within the building.

Upon completion of the session, Rowan was awarded the top accolade for Overall Contribution. As his prize, he has been commissioned by leading architecture and design publication, Blueprint Magazine, to visit a piece of contemporary European architecture in the coming months and to write a critique that will be published in the magazine. In preparation for the article, he will also receive tutoring on critical writing from seasoned journalists in the field.

Rowan, who comes from Crown Street, Aberdeen, commented: \”The event was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my education and learn new
ways of thinking about my subject and the wider world. It was great to have input and debate with so many leading thinkers across such a broad range of fields, not just architecture. To hear their thoughts on the role of architecture in today\’s society has broadened my way of thinking on the subject.

\”The prize is a wonderful opportunity for me to visit a piece of world class contemporary architecture and write a critique in an industry-leading magazine. As such I am very grateful to the organisers and sponsors of the event.\”

Austin Williams, founder of ManTowNHuman says: \”Rowan won the prize for quality in all aspects of the Winter School. He had a terrific attitude and is a well-deserved winner against seriously stiff competition.

\”The object of the exercise was to poke a stick into mainstream architectural education and challenge the way that many students are taught.

\”It encouraged serious critical thinking, and challenged the students to question everything. They had to investigate alternative arguments, to judge them intellectually, and to form their own conclusions.\”