BSc ARCHITECTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN
Climate Change is one of today’s most pressing issues and, in the past few decades, global policies and research institutions have acknowledged the urgency of addressing it through higher education.
The BSc AED offers students a combined architecture and environmental design education at undergraduate level to form a new generation of architects who are both environmentally aware and able to quantify the environmental impact of their design.
The BSc AED engages climate change and design practice with an emphasis on physical ecologies of building, numeracy and computation, as well as the wider principles of social sustainability. Over three years, BSc AED students are equipped with knowledge and skills in predicting and assessing building performance from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives, learning both the poetic and scientific aspects of the design process.
In the first year, BSc AED students share the design studios with the BArch programme to acquire basic architectural design knowledge, observational and drawing skills through design projects and study trips. An evidence-informed design approach is introduced to students through lectures, hands-on workshops, group seminars, and individual study sessions.
In second year, through four design briefs, second year BSc AED students explore the urban dimension by investigating social, economic, and building related environmental and energy issues. The four briefs are written in collaboration with Technical Studies to ensure that students acquire an understanding of digital environmental simulations at different scales and learn to develop environmental design strategies as the basis of evidence-based design.
The third year is structured around the Final Thesis Project; a research by design studio investigating innovative forms of performative architecture, negotiating social and environmental dynamics. Three separate modules allow students to investigate specific aspects of their Final Thesis Project, and allows them to learn cause-effect relations between the geometry, the material system and the performances of their architectural proposals.
In April 2021 the course received an unconditional validation by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); students who have successfully completed the course will be awarded a RIBA (Part 1) qualification required for Professional Registration. The validation came with a number of commendations that praised: the creativity and resilience of staff, particularly in the context of restrictions during the pandemic; the implementation of cross-disciplinary working and the complementary nature of the course ethos and identity within the school; the attitude and proactive approach of the students evident in their work.
Based on concepts of transformation and application, second year students developed skills to incorporate both intuitive and evidence-based tools in their design. Evidence-based approach provided students with tools to implement environmental design principles on top of which they could develop their design proposals. Four briefs introduced students to more complex scenarios and allowed them to familiarise and eventually master new digital and analogue tools to understand, simulate, and immerse themselves in the urban and environmental context with analytical precision. The data underpinning these exercises constituted the basis for the development of their proposals. With the first brief students were asked to analyse an urban area around the University of Westminster Marylebone Campus and communicate both its urban character and environmental data, such as light/shadow, air pollution, wind, thermal comfort, and acoustic. The outcome of brief one was a meaningful environmental design strategy that informed the design of a Climate Change Hub [brief 2]. Brief 3 and 4 looked at the effects of climate change on the performance of an existing building the Marylebone Hall of Residence. Based on the climate predictions for 2050, students developed performance-based designs to retrofit the building envelope to make it resilient to the projected climatic conditions.
The Studio is conceived as a research by design laboratory where all the year 3 modules also contribute to feed the different theoretical, technological and professional aspects of the students Final Thesis projects towards a climate sensitive architecture. This year the Studio was exploring innovative and evolutionary ways of learning from vernacular architecture with the aim to generate new architectural ecological typologies able to respond to extreme climatic conditions. Such main axis of investigation was also supported by the CC3 module where the individual researches of the students were informing the Thesis design brief. The students investigations were also fed by the interdisciplinary seminars series on “Decolonising Performative Architecture”. After many years of post-colonial studies in architecture and design the Studio has investigated on African sub-Saharan architectural taxonomies, from the traditional and rural configurations to the more recent informal solutions of urban areas, as possible paradigm of sustainability to analyse and evolve. An analytical understanding of such taxonomies was developed to respond to the need of affordable solutions for housing, health and community-oriented architectures both for the African context as well as for similar climatic scenarios. For this reason, the students were analysing the Cameroon context as a possible paradigm that could cover 3 different climatic and cultural scenarios.Read More...