While there are many wide-ranging opinions about architecture’s ideal role in society, there is a general agreement that an architect’s work does influence how a society functions and evolves. In a world that is grappling with myriad serious issues like climate change, population growth, and an inequitable distribution of resources, it benefits young architecture students to acquaint themselves with the larger picture, and to choose a topic that at least aims to solve a current socio-environmental problem through a design intervention.
The main project consists of the design and construction of full-scale architectural structures at Hooke Park. Designs are developed through prototyping, mock-up and physical testing in collaboration with engineering consultants and specialist builders. For the MSc students, this prototyping exercise is completed in a full-scale experimental timber construction at the end of Term 3, which forms the research basis for the subsequent MSc dissertations. This prototype is designed with the explicit intent to test new architectural applications of timber and radically exploit the woodland and fabrication resources (including new robotic fabrication equipment) of Hooke Park. For MArch students, the main project involves the collective design and construction of an experimental permanent building either at the Hooke Park campus or off site. Construction starts in Term 3 and is completed in the autumn. The range of research topics is broader than the MSc and may encompass individual interests in environmental and construction technologies, alternative forms of design practice or issues relating to Hooke Park's topographic and cultural landscape.