Master of Architecture (MArch)
The MArch seeks to investigate and develop the relationships between critical practice, design and research in the making of architecture. This is a studio-based programme, underscoring design and design processes as its core concerns. Part of the programme’s particular identity stems from its context within Belfast and Northern Ireland a city and region with a strong background in artefact, its production and physicality. The programme, focussing on the perception and built reality of space, views Northern Ireland as a kind of laboratory to explore and test ideas of architectural design at a series of scales and whose application can range from the local to the global.
Director of MArch
The ‘Without precedent’ studio, 2016/2017, led by Prof Ruth Morrow and Robert Jameson, aimed to conjoin the social and the technological, through an ethical approach underpinned by a principle of intimate scrutiny. Students worked extensively in groups experimenting with materials (some from waste streams) under the themes of Intertwining (agri-bags), Interlocking (ceramic blocks) and Interwoven (bailer twine).
This work was exhibited in a city centre art space. MArch 2 Students completed thesis projects whilst MArch 1 students continued to work as a group, co-designing, developing prototypes, and building a 1:1 construction testing orthogonal and unorthogonal means of construction. Such material investigations lead to a tighter fit between technology, construction processes and spatial experiences, and in turn to less waste, more sustainable outcomes and a more acute material practice. Elements of the work were sponsored by BanahCem and SNBE research clusters.
Intermodal speculates on the near and uncertain futures of the built environment. It takes as its sites the hyper-liquid networks and systems of movement of people, finance, goods and energy that determine economic, cultural and social life. It presupposes that a building is not an object but rather a dense node of aligned connections made manifest in physical form. Accordingly, we propose interventions and techniques that are capable of switching between and across conditions, an intermodal architecture capable of describing and representing intangible connections, capable of operating in territories where architecture is not yet or is no longer. While this year (2016-17) Northern Ireland and Dubrovnik provide the immediate context for these explorations, the aim is to generate architectural projects that can operate between the hyper-local and hyper-global – a technological vernacular for a highly networked, information society where peer to peer production is about to become a new norm, and post-capitalism a possibility.
Belfast, like most cities, is made of blocks and plots. The shapes, proportions, materials and rhythms of blocks and plots reflect the history, uses and economies that make the city. But what actually shapes Belfast? Do plots and blocks reflect or actively shape the economy of Belfast? How does this affect the way people live and use the city? These questions are addressed by exploring the built fabric of Belfast through the corridor that connects Belfast city centre with Queen’s Quarter. Our studio investigated this Belfast corridor, exploring and designing solid and adaptable architecture that encourages a range of different activities in and around buildings. We sought to find a compromise between the existing city and the planned one.
This ‘unit’ is led by Prof Michael McGarry together with Ms Rachel Delargy, both active practitioners in architecture. The unit’s concern is with characterising themes/ situations which arise in actual design practice, contingency for example in one year and parts + wholes in another. Last year’s concern was with edge + thickness – ‘edge’ being the definition between two conditions and ‘thickness being a measure of that separation.
Within each year’s thematic concern, individual students position themselves at a scale, location, and subject matter of their choice, while sharing in the collective ambition to make evident and tangibly resolved spatial and material proposals. A running theme is the relationship of author to artefact and how individual design representational practices impact on design outcomes; ultimately the unit’s ambition is for the individual student to know herself or himself as a designer.
We are particularly interested in examining the city as seen outwards from the intimacy of domestic life. Within this open interpretation of the contemporary city, the interior reclaims its identity as a deep threshold that embodies the nuances between private and public life. As in the paintings of Vermeer, De Hooch and others of the Delft School these spaces bond the domestic interior closely to the public exterior by means of courtyards, passages, gates, doors, railings, steps, walls and windows, to name a few. It is in this place we intend to dwell this year.
A digital resource communicating the work of Architecture at Queen's University Belfast