Low Carbon Architecture and Design Summer School Success

In the Cynnal Cymru calendar, late July/ early August is the time of our annual Low Carbon Architecture and Design Summer School where we welcome students of Architecture, Interior Design and Visual Communication from the North China University of China. The students, in groups, produced a design following the brief based on a ‘House for the Future’ at St Fagans and the work was of an exceptionally high standard.

The annual summer school combines lectures and academic visits with opportunities to explore the cities of Cardiff and London. Firm favourites include the British Museum, Tate Modern, Cardiff University and the Principality Stadium but this year saw us also visit the University of South Wales. Our visitors were also blessed by good-timing in that they were able to visit the Maes of the Eisteddfod whilst it was in Cardiff Bay. A new edition to the London timetable saw us visiting the RIBA Architects Association headquarters, a historic building in Portland Place conveniently placed opposite the Chinese Embassy where we were able to view the collection highlights.

Student Projects

The budding architects and interior designers were asked to design a residential unit of 120m2 that will be adopted by many housing associations and construction companies across Wales. The designers were asked to recognise that energy can be reduced at all scales of the built environment (component, building, neighbourhood, city, region) if strategic planning was adopted. They were also asked to make their designs resilient to the rapidly evolving effects of climate change and to consider the low-carbon targets set by global environmental and energy agendas and consider socio-economic issues such as changing family structures and new patterns of work and leisure. The group were split into two teams and were to present on their last day in the UK.

The first group produced a technically brilliant design. The presentation was polished, planned to the last detail and delivered in flawless English. Low carbon methods were adapted in the planning of materials, locating the property to make the most of natural sunlight, ventilation and water collection.

The second group shone for their creativity and innovation instead.  This included flexibility of living space in the form of moving walls and stairs that generated electricity by being walked on.

The judging panel which consisted of Sustain Wales’ Director Mari Arthur, Zhang Pengcheng the subject leader from the North University of china and Zhang Xinshuang an architecture PhD student from Cardiff University, decided that both projects should win awards of commendation for the strengths of their design and presentation skills rather than an outright winner being chosen as the standard of work was so high.

The students have now returned safely to Beijing where we continue to foster the relationship between them and ourselves and facilitate conversations between North China University of Technology and British Universities whilst encouraging environmentally minded architects and designers of the future.