Module one – Professional Diploma in Architecture (AEES) – Rebecca

The past week has been unlike any other, as the 22 Prof Dip freshers travelled to CAT from all over the country to meet for our first meal together on Monday night in the WISE building. The tutors didn’t waste any time and started us off that evening discussing the ‘sacred cows’ of sustainability with the MSc students to challenge our preconceptions and ideologies on sustainability from a wide variety of points-of-view through role-playing.

We were really looked after at CAT, with delicious food, 3 large meals a day, teas, coffees, juices and wine. This week we were sleeping in the WISE building itself, enhanced by our lecture about the building design by David Lea. We stayed 2 to a room in the wonderfully tranquil bedrooms, timber clad, with a floor to ceiling, square glazed screen that slid open directly onto the roof top terrace, looking down to the ‘drop-pool’ courtyard and out to the west Wales mountains.

The first module took us through some information-packed lectures, from Nick Baker: “…intercepting natural cycles of CO2 for human use…”, Peter Harper: “Physics trumps Politics…is true although our whole economic and societal systems are based on entirely the opposite…” To Ranyl Rhydwen, jumping up and down on stage, electrically retelling in quick rhythms the proofs of future doom caused by humanity, then following on in a subsequent lecture “human adaptation/transformation for climate change, opportunity and a change in fundamentals…” renewing students hope, energy and ideas for our learning to design future places. Evening lectures included history of CAT and a visiting lecturer: Roddy from Ted Cullinan architects.

Studio time this week initially made us take a look at our design approach and write a manifesto to be presented in one minute, then, we were taken through a drawing journey with Trevor Flynn of ‘Drawing at work’ who ran a drawing gymnasium. It began in the hills at CAT trying to measure and draw the 5th year’s Bird Hide. This twisting, free flowing form built from standard sized timber all felled within 500metres of the site, proved incredibly difficult to work out in the mind’s eye, due to the shapes and shadows of its morphic appearance. Despite this, with Trevor’s help, freehand oblique, section, isometric, one and two point perspectives appeared before us.

Saturday bought the roundup of the drawing session in the WISE building and a site visit for design project 100.1. This was followed by a traditional evening for the postgrad students: a social with a theme, everybody became their pirate alter ego, drinking rum and playing crew games, wearing elaborate costumes and props created from any material to hand in an old slate quarry. Not sure if anyone remembers which team won…but I do remember the fantastic atmosphere in the bar, the hot wood sauna in the hills and the cool fresh waters of the reservoir lake…

We finished with a Sunday morning of thought provoking lectures, Richard Hammerton: ‘Humans in context: Environmental change’ and Tanya Hawkes: ‘Policy responses to climate change’. The general consensus at the end of week 1 from the Prof Dip students is that there is nowhere quite like CAT to study and we are very glad we’re here. We are inspired, very tired, bonded as a group, filled with optimism and can’t wait to get started on the rural housing project based in Machynlleth, sketch books ready, roll on the next week at CAT…

The Architect’s Journal are looking for a sustainability intern

The Architect’s Journal are looking for a sustainability intern. Last year’s intern was Laura Mark, a graduate from CAT’s Professional Diploma course. Here is what she said about her time at the AJ…

When I began at the AJ as a sustainability intern, I could never have imagined the amount of varied and interesting experiences that were to come; opportunities to attend talks on a wide range of topics related to sustainable design, visit buildings, attend openings and launches, and even visit factories manufacturing Passivhaus windows in Austria.
This behind the scenes access to the world of sustainable architecture and journalism developed my critical abilities; this is vital in sustainability because of the constant need to sift through greenwash and assess whether something really is as green as it claims. The experience also developed my understanding of the challenges facing sustainable building and how it relates to mainstream construction. This has added depth to my work in practice and helped clarify how I would like to develop my career.
The AJ’s friendly staff were supportive and encouraged me to push myself. The experience took me out of the comfort zone of the architectural office and challenged me to try something different. It was great to work with people so passionate about architecture and I learnt a lot from being surrounded by this enthusiasm. My time at the AJ was fantastic and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of the team.