Lines Drawn: A weekend to shake up architectural education

The Centre for Alternative Technology & the Architecture Students Network (ASN) presents Lines Drawn, an exciting event on the future of architectural education. The conference will start off at 12 noon on Saturday the 15th and end 2 pm 16th of March 2014. It promises to be a memorable occasion and is set in the stunning WISE building at CAT.

ASN Flyer (2)

The debate will center around changes to the architectural education system in line with a new EU directive.  It will discuss whether part 1, 2 and 3 should be dramatically shortened or completely scrapped, what emphasis and titles there should be on professional practice and what the new EU directive might mean for architectural education in the UK.

CAT is already an innovator in architectural education. The professional diploma in architecture run at CAT lasts for a continuous 18 months, saving six months on the traditional part II course. It also contains an emphasis on practical experience, alongside academic content.

RIBA has estimated that it takes about a decade for an architect to be be fully registered and is often laborious putting a great deal of people off. Former RIBA president. Jack Pringle said “drastic change” is needed adding that its ”crazy, it can’t take that long to go into one of the poorest-paid professions.”

WISE Building

The event will take place in the WISE building, a unique structure using timber frame, rammed earth and hemp and lime in an  environmentally conscious design showcasing cutting-edge green building techniques. Book asap to be guaranteed a space.


Emergence Summit 2012 – Day Two


The second day of the Emergence Summit began early with some self-organised sessions, including yoga, morning swims and chanting; for those not quite able to get up at 7 on a Saturday morning, the Summit began with a discussion on ‘capitalism vs an inhabitable planet’ with Robert Newman. The morning continued with more mind-opening, inspiring talks – Rupesh Shah on systems thinking and sustainability, Nick Capaldi on the capacity of the arts to create and influence positive change.

Ansuman Biswas 'The Turning Point'

After an invigorating morning – equipping delegates with some theoretical tools for thinking about the themes of the gathering – Ansuman Biswas presented the first Emergence artist commission of the weekend. Exploring the ideas of vipassana, Ansuman led a meditation on the ‘turning point’ as the conference prepared to move away from the theoretical and intellectual and toward an afternoon of activity.

After lunch, the delegates headed into the ‘making, being and doing sessions.’ Similar to workshops, the sessions were intended to be hands-on, practical explorations of certain topics.

The delegates had 15 incredible sessions to choose from, and as it was impossible for everyone to participate in all the activities, participants got a taste of what else had been going on that afternoon in a tour led by the young Emergence delegates. Groups were led around CAT, revisiting the places where the sessions had earlier been held, and were treated to a short presentation of what was discussed and explored.

Bringing it all together at the end, each of the young delegates presented their take on what they witnessed to the whole gathering. More photos are available here.

Making, Being and Doing sessions stimulate discussion

Love WISE? We need you now!

If, like us, you think the principles of practical sustainability that WISE is based on are important, please vote for us in the National Lottery awards.

You can vote for us here, over the phone on 0844 836 9698.

We have been shortlisted as one of the best environmental projects that the National Lottery funded last year, for our outstanding sustainability education building WISE.

The Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) is our award winning experimental eco-building where the principles that CAT is founded on are showcased. WISE provides an inspirational residential learning space for diverse groups to come and learn about practical solutions to environmental problems and aims to inspire, inform and enable people to adopt environmentally sustainable living and working practices. WISE benefits thousands of people each year who, through visiting CAT, gain the skills and the motivation to adopt sustainable living and working practices.

Kit Jones, a member of staff at CAT said: “WISE is an educational building that inspires everyone who knows it, be they students, young people, builders, architects, professionals, community groups or politicians. I am delighted it has been short listed; it is a credit to all those people and a recognition of the importance of the green economy and society they are trying to create. WISE is a unique teaching space up for the challenge of inspiring that green economy – finally the importance of the ideas being discussed is reflected in the quality of the space they are being taught in.”

Click here to find out about studying in WISE. Click here to find out about using WISE as a venue for conferences, meetings, training, events or weddings.

Fundraiser Eleanor Farnworth explains how environmental education building WISE has made a huge difference: “Each year WISE hosts up to 600 people on environmental courses. Prior to its construction, accommodation, lecturing and laboratory space at CAT was stretched to the limit. Students at WISE now benefit from appropriate facilities, a captivating learning environment, and complete immersion in a committed environmental centre with sustainability at its core.

“It also provides a beautiful environmentally-conscious social and event space. A programme of free informative tours of the building is offered, and it hosts environmental festivals for the public, such as an environmental food festival in summer 2011 which attracted around 1,000 people over two days. The Welsh Government launched their Climate Strategy for Wales here, and the building provides a venue for volunteer and student social events as well as the lively CAT Members’ conference.

“WISE also acts as a test-bed for green building and energy technologies. The load-bearing curved rammed earth walls are the first of their kind in the world and the building includes various experimental airtightness and insulating techniques and incorporated monitoring equipment. The experimental aspects of WISE will be of great benefit to environmental and architectural knowledge. A PhD student is currently studying the ecological impacts of the construction processes, and dozens of postgraduate students have carried out research projects on the site. The findings will therefore benefit people and places into the future.”

Forum and Feast an enlightening day of discussion about food waste


Last Saturday, This is Rubbish in collaboration with the Centre for Alternative Technology held Forum and Feast, a day of talks and workshops exploring the issue of food waste. With 8.3 million tonnes of largely avoidable food waste generated on an annual basis, it’s a highly pertinent issue.

The day began with an enlightening panel discussion, chaired by Jill Evans, MEP and featuring Dr Andy Rees (Head of Waste Strategy at the Welsh Government), Dr Adrian Morley (Research Associate at Business Relationship, Accountability, Sustainability and Society), Emma Marsh (Love Food Hate Waste) and Professor Martin Caraher (City University).

The panellists discussed why we waste food on the scale that we do, and what possible options for reducing the impact may be. There was general agreement from the panel about what the drivers of food waste are, thought to be the consumer model used for the food industry which masks the true cost of what we buy; the monetary value put on food fails to represent its real value.

The panel during the first session of the forum

Amongst some of the startling facts mentioned by the panel was the revelation that, since WWII, food waste has increased from 2% to 25%.

The panelists also emphasised how a loss of basic cooking skills, as well as a tangible connection to the origin of food, has created a wasteful food culture.

On the matter of solving the issue, the panellists had less consensus, with some in support of voluntary waste reduction targets, and some doubtful of their efficacy, preferring mandatory targets enshrined in law. The role of the consumer was also debated: Emma Marsh saw consumer behaviour change as integral to forming a solution, though acknowledged its complexity as a ‘hidden’ nature (not generating food waste is less visible than other environmentally conscious behaviours such as recycling). Martin Caraher, however, was suspicious of “blaming the consumer for the faults of the system.”

Interesting and stimulating talks were presented by Paul Allen (from CAT, on Zero Carbon Britain and the food supply chain and available to listen to here) and Caitlin Shepherd (from This is Rubbish on highlights from the Feast tour and plans for the future).

The afternoon saw participants engage with the issue in two different workshops. CAT’s Cara Whelan facilitated a workshop on food waste reduction initiatives serving businesses and communities, while playwright Sarah Wood facilitated a workshop on the role of market leaders in preventing food waste.

Later, after a screening of DIVE by Jeremy Seifert, participants were treated to a theatrical three-course food waste feast. Serenaded at the table by Folking Rubbish and Bard, diners enjoyed caramelised onion soup with sourdough, vegetable stacks with aubergine, pepper, cheese, basil pesto, potato gratis and cucumber salad, and a damson and apple crumble with yoghurt.

Podcast: Paul Allen on Zero Carbon Britain and food supply chains

Last Saturday, This is Rubbish in collaboration with CAT held Forum and Feast, a day of talks and workshops (topped off with a theatrical food waste feast!) around the issue of food waste. Paul Allen, CAT’s director of external relations, gave a presentation about Zero Carbon Britain 2030 and food waste, discussing how land use forms an important part of the report.


You can stream the podcast here or

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Previous podcasts

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Thursday podcast: interview with Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy, artists in residence

Bridget Kennedy and Mair Hughes are CAT’s first artists in residence. This week, their exhibition Scientific Stranger is on in the WISE lecture theatre. Part of Powys Art Month, their project Utopian Realism has seen them research ecology, geology, phrenology, futurology, and the legacy of communitarian and founder of the co-operative movement Robert Owen.

In this interview, they discuss what they’ve found interesting about CAT, and what has been inspirational about working and exhibiting here. They also talk about the themes they have been exploring in their work and the role of artists in the environmental movement.

For more information about the artists, their work and their project, check out their blog.

You can stream the podcast here or

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Previous podcasts

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