Module one – MSc Architecture (AEES) – Alex
Looking beyond CAT’s setting of incredible beauty and the fleeting moods of the Welsh sky it is clear that both theory and industry are at home here. Vernacular architecture, of slate, wood and mortar, sited in the old quarry that gives CAT its unusual topography, are fused with renewable technology and modern natural building materials. They sit so well with each other it’s seamless and so unnoticeable. After a few days one realizes that beyond the technological application of micro generating renewables, the superficial changes to our visual environment, due to the presence of panels and turbines, they are really no great hardship. I believe that, en masse, we will quickly grow accustomed to them. CAT is all laid out with a child’s sense of discovery and adventure yet everywhere are to be found structures that evidently provide seriously applicable solutions to the problems we face in creating sustainable human systems.
Starting in September meant my first module was ‘Environment and energy in a world context’. This included lectures on; anthropogenic climate change, adaptation strategies, an ecosystem services approach to master planning, policy at national and international level, sustainable architecture, social perspectives and much, much more. For all of this, I am immensely grateful to be participating in this Masters Programme. Often when considering the challenges that lay ahead, I have wished, as I am sure many people do, that I could be provided with pointers as to where to look for the most accurate data, reports or case studies, to be given a leg up to where I felt, knowledge wise, I needed to be with regards to climate change, sustainable design and the built environment. Even in just one module I felt that this was already happening. What facilitated this further was the learning atmosphere generated by my surroundings and the emphasis that we, as current or future design professionals, need to embody the change we want to see in the world by ‘walking the talk’. This is highlighted by learning about sustainable architecture from the very people who designed and
participated in the build of the exemplary WISE building, the very same building in which all the lectures were given. It is an immersive learning experience. What particularly made me smile to myself was that the terms, language and principles that were employed during lectures were so familiar, from my background in permaculture that it made me feel confident I was in the right place to learn what I need to know.
What really ‘made’ my first module and in fact my first ever visit to CAT was not only the quality and attitude of the course teaching and non teaching staff but the level of awareness and enthusiasm of my fellow students. I quickly felt a connection and communication with them that was uncommon in my experiences at undergraduate level.