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Critical Intervention Defines School of Architecture Work-in-progress Show 2014

This year's School of Architecture Work-in-progress show reflects ongoing provocation and invention, and reveals an emerging constructive approach. The MA Architecture evidences direct realisation, as well as speculation, while the MA Interior Design programme brings intellectual rigour to the discipline, demonstrating its potential for transforming work, healthcare, retail, learning and community environments. 

Across Architecture, first-year students showcase collaborative projects alongside research candidates. Ongoing work for Brent Council and Wembley, and competition proposals for the RCA’s own Helix healthcare innovation centre, to be based at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, are also on show. MA students offer visitors a glimpse of their individual thesis research, working within the context of one of eight of the Architecture Design Studios. 

Studio concerns range from urban planning across the green belt and the south east to the implications of invisibility of the digital realm, and contemporary architecture's lack of engagement with culture and obsession with economy. Given the macro level of thinking, there is still scope for speculation, but it's much more an exploration of the 'what-ifs' around real-life circumstances and planning issues.  

Projects range from what to do with half-built golf courses on London’s green belt to tidal energy communities in the Thames. There's a fascinating blueprint for replicating eco-community Findhorn’s sustainable living model in an urban environment, and a range of proposals addressing potential issues such as air and noise pollution resulting from expansion of London City airport. Projects such as Ourania Kondyli’s The Heritage Express explore the tensions between preserving heritage and the growth economy, while others like Stay Plastic by Renjie Huang and Disposable Infrastructure by Tom Price envisage various types of waste as architectural resource.

In Interior Design, international experts have collaborated with first-year students to explore themes of sound and making, transport sites and meanwhile spaces. Thesis project responses reveal concerns of working with political agendas, and the need for the re-use of existing structures. Proposals range from transforming abandoned underground stations to creating London social housing mega structures on sites earmarked for demolition. 

Second-year student Leon Kacinaci has teamed up with MA Painting student Katrine Roberts to explore how creativity can be brought into abandoned and forgotten spaces, while Vitarat Pariyawatakui offers a vision of affordable and social student living. Echoing School of Architecture Dean Alex de Rijke, students combine critical enquiry, conceptual freedom and an inventive approach to the use of material, making and colour.