Analysis of a challenging yet rewarding project completed last year during my college course. The end result of my project didn’t truly come as a surprise, as I allowed myself to develop organically and freely around my statement of intent from earlier in the year. The premise of my statement, did however, seem to become something that I would later challenge and almost counteract. The final piece is more or less a mockery of what I set out to achieve. (Project concept outlined in previous post [college review]). My original intention was to challenge one of the many issues highlighted in the project concept. In the end, my work has reflected this intention, but in an exaggerated manner. Along with an extra concept that I still find incredibly interesting, negative space. Instead of creating simply an enclosed space within an existing structure, I designed an eccentric, stand-alone property, which shares its footprint with a much larger area of ‘breathing space’. I believe that this very simple concept of immersing yourself in green space could be the answer to many of the problems I highlighted in my statement of intent.

Early on in my research I was reading through some RIBA documents and noticed a reference to the UK’s “2020 targets”, something that I was not aware of which regarded property and housing. Figures for employment, R&D/innovation, climate change/energy, education and poverty/social exclusion, all of which work to save money to the public purse and improve the places we live, work and play in the long term. Research continued throughout the project and shaped the way I worked and what I produced. Notably going to the Tate Modern in London, and seeing the collection of photographs of water towers by Bernd and Hilla Becher inspired me to use the general shape of said water towers for the final piece. The techniques and processes I imagined would feature did so as expected, however using a parallel motion board and various other pieces of equipment for scale drawings did come as a pleasant surprise. Furthermore, the range of materials and equipment I needed in the workshops was unexpected due to the complexity of my designs. I have found that it is very easy to work with straight parallel lines and right angles, rather than strange 3D trapezium shapes.


Field trips to Aberystwyth and Berlin opened my eyes to the diversity, not just in culture, but art and how it is received, presented and respected. I enjoyed making early on, starting small and developing a concept using a number of materials e.g. paper, grey-board, ceramics, and various other methods e.g. printing, drawing, writing and digital work. I benefitted from structured research task handouts, which I know will improve the structure of my own investigations in the future. Pathway choice came quite easily having swerved away from my original desire to work on an image based, 2D project, to wanting to involve 3D elements. The fine art pathway made this concept possible.

f i n a l   m a j o r   p r o j e c t   ( f m p )   c o n c e p t

A staggering 95% of government expenditure on housing is spent on housing benefit, and just 5% is spent on building new homes… It is no longer an option to leave the government to deal with this problem, but time to work with it ourselves. Studying Interior Design at University, I am working on similar projects, taking an existing building/space and repurposing it for the benefit of the community surrounding it, concentrating on a human scale. I intended to challenge one of the many issues the UK is facing such as a growing and ageing population, a shortage of space (mainly in cities), less disposable income, physical inactivity, fewer schools and high divorce rates, using as many of my skills as possible but most importantly, a whole heap of creative and innovative thinking to come up with a solution. All of these ‘problems,’ effect where and how we can or can not live, however there are a number of ways that we can address them; building reuse, contemporary insertions, shared spaces for living, using ‘leftover’ spaces, refurbishing our existing homes and new housing models and structures. Using an already accomplished art movement to support my ideas benefitted development no end. Contemporary design, notably the Bauhaus, De Stijl movement and some Scandinavian references are somethings I used to draw ideas from. Focusing on a creative concept rather than a scientific and precise idea allowed me to physically do more work due to the limited available time I had for this project. Encountering obstacles during my FMP was a guarantee, however I strongly believe, still today, that error breeds sense, so as long as I understand and document why the problem has occurred, it will not be a problem. Evaluating my project throughout was key to successful development and essentially a good grade, it allowed me to reflect on what went well and what could be improved on. Throughout my project I kept a notebook and sketchbook to document everything I found, whether it be information from the internet or any drawings I did. I used my camera to photograph visits to relevant buildings and models I made. These models may be simple paper maquettes, planar shapes using ceramics, or high finished, quality architects models. My blog was a useful tool in publishing and sharing important findings and finally, feedback from my teachers, peers, and interior designers/architects.

‘human – meditation – nature’

Architecture is not just about function and beauty, but also a way to connect people with nature. There are currently 7 billion people in the world. Humans have evolved over time to be the only species that do not adapt to the world but make the world adapt to them instead. In our desire to develop the economy through commercialization, industrialization, construction and technological advances, we have changed the world to suit our needs. But human life is always attached to nature. The relationship between man and nature can be seen in everyday life. Nature gives us many benefits but most of us do not know how to respect, protect and preserve it.

Urbanization is inevitable around the world in today’s society. It helps to promote economic development, society and living conditions. But in doing so, nature is being destroyed through large consumptions of energy and deforestation. Society is growing at a rapid rate and people are slowly being separated from nature. In today’s media, we often see hundreds of social problems, from wars, pollution, natural disasters, droughts and floods to name a few. All of these require an effective solution to improve human life, bring stability and peace.

“At Vo Trong Nghia Architects, we see meditation as a beneficial pathway to help people to avoid ignorance, purify their minds, improve their lives and bring people closer to nature. The staff at Vo Trong Nghia Architects are required to meditate twice a day and attend 10-day meditation courses throughout the year to continuously reconnect with nature, as well as to understand their minds at a deeper level. It helps resist cravings, improve concentration and sensitivity to our surroundings, as well as better decision-making in improving our society, not just our personal interests.”

“Within this forest of bamboo and plants, we invite you to meditate and reawaken your relationship with nature. We hope the journey through this pavilion will remind you of the impact of human actions in our daily lives. In our projects, we always emphasize on the relationship between architecture and nature. By integrating nature to our other architectural projects, not only are we able to improve the scenery and atmosphere of the surroundings, but also to provide food through farming and provide resources to the people. Furthermore, it alleviates current social issues by encouraging   communication among people.”


Victoria Baths was built between 1903-1906 under the supervision of Henry Price, Manchester’s first city architect. It cost £59,000 to construct, almost three times what was normally spent on public baths.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, segregation in swimming and bathing both by gender and by class was the norm. Where an establishment only had one or two pools then segregation would take place by giving each class of users different days of the week to bathe. At Victoria Baths there are three separate wash baths for males 1st class, males 2nd class and females. To use the 1st class facilities you had to pay more, 6d compared to 4d in 1906.

The water for Victoria Baths came from a well which was specially sunk for the establishment. It is said that the water was first used to fill the Males 1st class pool, then it was returned to the water tanks, filtered, aerated, re-heated and used in the males 2nd class pool, then recycled again and used in the female’s pool!

Having the smallest pool and perhaps third-hand water didn’t prevent swimming from being a very popular activity for women and girls in the early 20th century. Most girls learnt to swim through the schools swimming programme and there was a separate swimming club for women and girls – the Victoria Swimming Club.

When it opened in 1906, Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road, Manchester, was described as “the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country” and “a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud.”  Not only did the building provide spacious and extensive facilities for swimming, bathing and leisure, it was built of the highest quality materials with many period decorative features:- stained glass, terracotta, tiles and mosaic floors.