M.ARCH Project Reviews
10, 11 & 13 December

You are cordially invited to join us for our M.ARCH project reviews this week.

Tuesday 10 December: SYN City
Wednesday 11 December: Small World
Friday 13 December: Mind the Gap

UCA Canterbury
Architecture Building
Crit Room
10:00-13:00 & 14:00-17:00

M.ARCH Studios 2019/10
Design Research Agendas

SYN City // Type, Time & Territory

"But what goes up must come down"

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

SYN City is a postgraduate research and design studio at UCA Canterbury School of Architecture. Each academic year, the studio dedicates itself to a shared territory of investigation in order to explore the dialectical and contested nature of the contemporary city. The studio critically engages with the complex and often antithetical forces within the expanded field of urban transformation processes and synthesises them into programmatic and spatial, urban and architectural design proposals.
SYN City experiments with the hybridisation of complementary design approaches, which are conventionally separated from each other. Embracing critical and activist, formal and informal spatial practices alike, the studio amalgamates diverse design strategies, tactics and tools to support the catalysis of spatially and socially beneficial transformation processes.
This year’s research and design agenda focuses on the tower typology - the skyscraper, high-rise, or otherwise tall urban building - as a contested territory of urban and architectural production. The studio explores vertical buildings in terms of their symbolic, programmatic, structural and tectonic attributes and opportunities. Students will synthesise their individual sites and chosen programmatic components into a complex hybrid building and devise spatial configurations of symbiotic relationships between diverse, sometimes conflicting functional and material systems, institutional protocols and legal and political regimes.

Gabor Stark

SMALL WORLD // Exploring the Effects of Mass Tourism

“To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.”

David Foster Wallace in “Consider the Lobster and Other Essays”

Tourism, particularly for the masses, is a quintessential product of modernity. As workers gained access to free time and disposable income so appeared the urge to visit other places and consume what was once either unknown or known only from magazines and movies. This once benign and relatively circumscribed activity has arguably become the world’s biggest industry, accounting for 10.4% of the global economy and 9.9% of all jobs.
Is tourism killing the city, as the graffiti in Barcelona seems to proclaim, or is it inflating new life in once ignored territories? Can it be both? Can tourism be channelled by design into a positive force, or does it need to simply be reigned in?
This studio challenges students you to have a critical and informed view on mass tourism as a historically grounded but mostly contemporary phenomenon and on what we, as architects and urban designers, can do about it. Students We will explore issues of economy, gentrification, conservation, mobility and technology to come up with original and carefully conceived interventions - architectural in essence, but not necessarily bound by the limits of a single discipline.

Duarte Lobo Antunes

MIND THE GAP // An Adventure in Multi-Generational Living

"Increasingly, the old and the young seem to be living in different worlds. This is true financially, culturally and politically. The different generations appear to regard each other with mutual incomprehension. It’s a gulf that’s trapping the world in a state of impasse just when drastic action is needed to address our multiple crises: political, economic, and environmental."

Milburn, K, Generation Left, April 8, 2019

It is clear that the architecture of the ‘everyday’ and the means by which people live and interact with their fellow city dwellers, is both a progenitor and a consequence of this situation. But what if the cultural ideology of multi-generational living (something alien to previous generations) was embraced as a positive new modus operandi for more stimulating and more sociable living arrangements? In architectural and urbanistic terms, what opportunities might this offer, for richer neighbourhoods and a more satisfying built environment?
We invite you to embark upon a rigorous, ambitious and comprehensive exploration into multi-generational ‘living’ and how this may be implemented as an optimistic area of focus for new development within urban ‘infill sites’.
Our unit will be collectively exploring domestic architecture, infused with other programmatic functions and interactions defined by your research and design inquiries. You will utilise a skilled hand and a curious mind to devise an architectural proposition that will break down social barriers, test and critique existing idea of how we live, work, learn and/or play as well as improve people’s lives for the better.

Adam Hiles & Carla Novak


Master of Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2)
UCA Canterbury School of Architecture