The cultural and climatic context of south west Wales is very distinct. Our new school of architecture is driven by a philosophy of designing buildings and places that are responsive to context, that are sustainable, that engage with local culture. We also embrace the idea that architecture is ‘built’, is palpable, has a design language, a tectonic order.
The third year studio is focused upon the area that surrounds the University’s IQ Building and Y Fforwm. For the first part of the third year students develop a master plan for this part of what used to be docklands. Before being established as a site for redevelopment the area had a long history as an industrial dockland. Swansea, described by Dylan Thomas as ‘a lovely ugly town’, was famous for the production of copper in the 18th and 19th centuries it was referred to as ‘Copperopolis’. By 1850 Swansea had more than 600 furnaces processing copper, tin and zinc. The export trade was supported by a fleet of 500 ships centred on a docks area. Like many post industrial cities Swansea is re- inventing itself as a centre for cultural and creative industries.
After they produce a masterplan for the area students then select a site within their masterplan to develop a design proposal. The student then formulates a brief – for a project of their choice – which responds to the physical and social context. Following that they design a proposal for a new building – and develop this through to a high degree of technical resolution with a distinct design language.