Architecture; an engineered expression of human needs and desires.
In the first instance, architecture can be seen as; " the first manifestation of man creating his own universe"; the creation of a secure place in which to sleep, a means of defence and a place in which to grow.
However, life is a continuous development, a process of change and adaptation to context, a context that is also changing. In this case then, a successful architecture must be responsive to human existence and conducive to change. It should evoke many levels of meaning by respecting and embracing the fact that every person, every site, and consequently, every building is and should remain a unique set of circumstances.
In response, any good architect must demonstrate what is possible by examining new types of space and the relationship between the individual, society and the environment. One should question predetermined ideals and objectives by asking: How should a building function, for whom, and for what purpose?
To reiterate the words of Vitruvius; Yes, architecture is a science that integrates the art of building, functionality and aesthetics. But more importantly, it is a utility, a service developed from the need to address the full extremities of the complex and volatile ecosystem we call home: the planet earth.
Unlike art, architecture is not to be collected and treasured, it's functionality solves practical problems and as such should be used to the benefit of all. However, with 'energy conservation' and the 'minimisation of environmental impact' now being seen as primary design objectives, this may only be possible if the architect, in the form of an artist, an engineer or humanist, seeks to create a balance between man, technology and nature.
Therefore, any true level of success may only be possible if the architect is in possession of a comprehensive knowledge and thorough understanding of chosen materials and their functions if the building itself is not to fail and the client suffer a total loss of comfort and security.
The process of design in the final degree year at De Montfort attempts to draw together the skills which have been developed throughout the course. These are based upon the ability to conceptualise both the design problem and its solution in such a way that an integration of technical ability balances a narrative understanding of the essence of design. The manner in which this is achieved is by focused design work; a study of some depth; and the application of a more personal theme by the student. That work is set in the context of discussions based upon contemporary theoretical ideas which reflect the spirit of the times.
During the recent semesters design thinking evolved around the concept of transmission which was interpreted in both the material sense of the transmission of light and the nature of the transparency of materials and in the functional context by provisions for the Internet and also in the design of gallery spaces. Integrated into the programme is the possibility of computer animated work and environmental studies. The study in depth also has a strong contextual theme this time related to urban issues in either Cambridge or Edinburgh. Design places an emphasis upon an artistic awareness of the implications of materiality in a sensitive response to formal design in which the students are required to respond to the pleasure to be gained or experienced from the design of a pool.
Those skills which are developed in a studio culture based upon student participation and visiting tutorial debate and criticism are further developed in programmes initiated by students and developed in tutorial discussions. This work may result in study in a foreign situation with the implication of cultural issues. A theme developed in the final semester was grounded in the urban grain of East Berlin. Other student initiated projects result from design competitions. Throughout the year students are encouraged to record their ideas and critical insights in sketch books and development models of design work, both of which are considered to be valuable components of the presentation of design programmes. In essence design work in thought of as an interactive process both between concept and materiality and also between student and tutor.