Our MArch programmes are based around a series of thematic studios which develop out of the studio leaders’ own research interests.

MArch studio project by Will Kreibich

Our studios aim to consider design within the context of rigorous and innovative research. This implies that the product of the studio courses will extend beyond the comprehensive design of a building and into other areas such as consultation, historical analysis, technical innovation or cultural investigation.

MArch Studios 2018-2019

Studio in Residence

Tutor: Carolyn Butterworth

This year Studio in Residence will be exploring the capacity of play in Sheffield to engage, educate and empower citizens of all ages in the future of their city. We will explore the opportunities that ‘play’ brings to architecture, setting no fixed typology, but imbuing diverse projects with the experimentation, fun and risk-taking that playfulness entails. Our site is Sheffield’s ‘Steel Route’, running through the city centre between The Moor and the northern residential area of Pitsmoor. This slice through the city is full of possibilities for projects of all scales and complexities, connecting areas of regeneration and dereliction, civic institutions, heritage, infrastructure and local neighbourhoods. Based at Live Works, SSoA’s ‘Urban Room’ on the Moor, we will collaborate with community groups in Pitsmoor, including Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, and others in between. We will be ‘in residence’ - working actively on site with the people we meet there, keeping our eyes, ears and minds open to new spatial possibilities.

(re)-Activist Architecture

Tutor: Simon Baker

The studio will explore ways in which to develop longer-term meaningful contact to reduce prejudice and foster respect between different social groups. Derived through observation, artistic participation and history, students will develop a narrative describing a speculative proposition which is critical of the current status quo and offers an alternative amplification of evident cultural and social activity. Projects will speculate on future sites of purposeful organised group activity, bringing together people of different backgrounds with a reliance on active citizens. Students will explore architecture in the midst of life, interweaving several functions leading to interesting situations which necessitate abandoning prevailing conventions, to discover less obvious and exciting alternatives. We will explore cohabitation in which the rights of the individual and the interests of the community are in balance, a shared vision of the future…(not a utopia)

Arrival City: Milan

Tutor: John Sampson

Since the outbreak of Europe’s refugee crisis, Milan has become a major transit point for those landing in southern Italy trying to reach countries in northern Europe to be reunited with family and friends or to look for work. As more and more northern European countries close their borders, Milan is changing from a point of transition to a point of arrival for many migrants. A few tram stops from Milan’s historic centre sits the San Siro neighbourhood. Today, 40% of the neighbourhood's 11,000 residents have a foreign background making it one of the most culturally diverse within the city. Mapping San Siro, an Action Research project based in the neighbourhood, suggests that beyond the headlines there is something else; a galaxy of micro-worlds where the residents, through the practices of everyday life, have begun to reorganise spaces, and rewrite habits and rules of cohabitation.

As a studio, we will be collaborating with Francesca Cognetti De Martiis and Ida Castelnuovo from the Polytechnic de Milano who run Mapping San Siro, Lucia Caister from Architecture Sans Frontiers, Emily Berwyn from Meanwhile Space and Beatrice De Carli from SSoA who was one of the founders of the Mapping San Siro project. Taking the San Siro neighbourhood as our point of focus, the studio will continue to explore the effect this mass migration and urbanisation is having on our cities, focusing on the notion of the Arrival City.

Ecosystem City

Tutor: Kasia Nawratek

The central idea for this studio is Mikhail Bakhtin’s idea of polyphony. Our starting point will be the idea of polyphony used to redefine the city community as a multi-voiced narrative of all living organisms including human and non-human voices. This inclusive city community will open new interpretations of urban sustainability and resilience, and understanding of the city as a biologically rich and active natural environment where humans and non-humans can not only coexist, but also thrive. In this scenario, humans, plants and animals are all engaged in the constant dialogue through negotiation and transformation. Our challenge will be to insert architecture and architects as active participants into this dialogue, and examine our role in the construction of the city community. Our polyphonic design studio will be a testing ground for ideas, where individual narratives and projects engage in a constant dialogue, making space for exploration, speculation and experimentation. We will use the narrative in various forms as our main method of exploration and communication. In our research, we will study rivers and canals as drivers in biological regeneration and urban transformation.

Intergenerational Architecture

Tutor: Satwinder Samra

We will investigate how we can design and evolve an appropriate architectural response for our current and future intergenerational demographic. This will include exploring environments for play, education, living and healthcare. As healthcare and wellbeing have improved so has the ability to live longer. Some have benefitted from healthy pension provision and rising house prices whilst others face a bleaker and more challenging existence facing reduced welfare provision and rising utility bills. We shall explore the inevitable environments that exist for the young and the old and explore if these can be improved. We shall look at the provision at human, domestic and urban scales varying from the texture of electric blankets, the acoustics of learning environments, the DIY adaptation of space, to the reliability and impact of bus timetables.

Studio Learning Culture: Alternative Provision

Tutor: Leo Care

This year, Studio Learning Culture will explore alternative ways of learning and ask; What are the opportunities for people who do not or cannot engage in mainstream education? In response to this question, we will start by investigating the notion of alternative provision. The majority of young people in alternative provision have special educational needs or an educational health plan. However, the life chances of people receiving this are much reduced. So, what are the possibilities for alternative provision and how might these be developed?  Transcending the established alternative provision system, we will explore what potential can be created outside mainstream education, as well as transformation from within. In order to address these issues at different scales, we will investigate the impact of the Global UNESCO Learning Cities Initiative, as well as place-specific localised self-organised learning environments. We will also look at the future of education and lifelong learning, and the challenges that are presented by climate change, artificial intelligence and increasing social inequality. We will reflect on our own learning and the structures that surround it.

Having previously been based in the Dearne Valley, Barnsley and Sheffield, this year we will start by taking on the Sheffield City Region; examining if the recently elected regional Mayor has the capacity to create a tangible difference to place and people, rather than just improve economic partnerships. From this strategic/political outlook, we will focus on particular locations within the region, testing ideas and creating new ways of forging lifelong learning opportunities.

Collaborative Production

Tutor: Daniel Jary

This studio positions itself in a future where a sharing economy has become mainstream, promoting non-market production and social enterprise; a future where automation and robotisation have changed the nature of labour and production and transformed the way people engage with local governance, education, healthcare and cultural exchange. The studio will be located in the Don Valley, which forms part of Sheffield’s proposed Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID). Students will be encouraged to exploit the opportunities offered by the disused industrial infrastructure which defines the area. This will open up possibilities for new forms of architecture which can re-connect the city via a network of active green corridors. The aspiration is to go beyond existing models of urban regeneration, embracing new technologies and design innovation in the provision of high-quality employment, housing and education, and the creation of an active and vibrant public realm. Students will work collectively during the early stages of the project, sharing resources, ideas and approaches. Students will be encouraged to develop spatial propositions from the outset, generating and evaluating ideas about programmatic and architectural possibilities responsive to the existing physical and social structures.

Material Amendment

Tutor: Bryan Davies

To make a material amendment to a site or building is to make a significant adaptation or effect change to the existing situation. This year the studio turns towards coastal fishing communities, asking how architects might have a valid role in shaping futures. Grimsby in northeast Lincolnshire once hosted the largest fishing fleet in the world. This had reduced down to just 5 trawlers by 2013. 70% of the population voted leave in the 2016 EU referendum, yet the economy is largely dependent on foreign labour, sustainable fish stocks, and single market trading. Chioggia was a traditional fishing island in the Venetian Lagoon, now with a dwindling fishing fleet and dormant factories. We will try to ascertain how this shrinking community enclave and others like it are coping with the manifold pressures created from a globalised food economy, in the shadow of ‘Venice’ the global brand, where over 20 million tourists visit each year and huge cruise ships pass by the local boats.

In a sense, both of these communities have issues to do with representation. Venice is over-represented with one view of itself as a cultural, touristic travel destination, whereas Grimsby has suffered due to its lack of representation in European politics. This opens the door for us to investigate the role of architectural representation, and the architectural proposal a tool itself to effect change more akin with contemporary artwork, not just a means to an end (the building). The studio asks students to push against the norms of MArch project work, to find alternative methods of making and communication to achieve unexpected and compelling outcomes.

LANDSCAPE + URBANISM / Civil Revolutions

Tutor: Howard Evans

The last 300 years have witnessed an incredible rate of change in the way in which we live with mass migration from rural communities to urban centres changing the face of the country. By 2030 the World Health Organisation predicts that 6.4 billion people will live in cities, with 41 mega cities of 10 million people. The studio seeks to explore how the towns and rural communities that are left behind can forge new identities from their rich but transient histories.

Newark-on-Trent is a small town in the East Midlands. The town grew from the impressive Norman castle on the River Trent as a market and local trading centre. Recent demographic changes relate to the increasing numbers of commuters living around the town leaving a void within the town itself. Located in and around Newark, the studio will chart the transformation of the landscape and its impact on the communities along the River Trent. As a studio, we will explore through a research-led agenda, the changes wrought on an urban landscape by economic, social and ecological agendas. Where possible we will adopt strategies of mitigation over adaption, looking particularly at the impact of employment, commerce, and education on the sustainable growth of a rural community. The studio methodology incorporates a number of creative methods and tactical processes; narrative development, mapping as a transformative tool, interdisciplinary working, working with new futures thinking and landscape practices to explore how transformation can happen through the processes of collaboration and participation.

Temporal Places: ‘Ready’ Burslem

Tutor: Mark Emms

This studio is concerned with dimensions of time, from the persistent to the momentary, and aims to explore the evolution, inhabitation and adaption of particular places through multiple time frames. For a third consecutive year, the studio will be situated in Stoke-on-Trent. Once a thriving industrial centre at the heart of the ceramics industry, the city is rich in heritage and industrial relics. Despite discernible manufacturing decline, the wider city of Stoke-on-Trent still retains a successful ceramics industry that is supplemented by new enterprise, embracing tradition and innovation through both technology and artistry, and reinforced by the region’s two universities and an emergent cultural scene. The studio will focus this year on Burslem, the ‘Mother Town’ of the potteries. Once at the forefront of the industrial revolution, the town retains much of its nineteenth-century industrial heritage and townscape character. Factory closures and a decline in workforce have caused deprivation, decay and depressed footfall within the town.

Projects will build upon themes of time and movement, exploring ideas of permanence and temporariness and notions of static and dynamic, within varied time frames and at multiple scales. Proposals will seek to address contemporary issues whilst recognising the significance of the past, exploring in detail the material interface and transition between old and new. Throughout the duration of the studio, we will record and represent time as an integral part of our iterative process.