Kalia Charalambous / MArch
Studying MArch at LBU gave me the chance to discover my position in the architectural world. I spent four years studying Architecture and Planning in another university and two years in practice and I was still not sure whether I enjoyed it. Yet, the past two years, being part of the Cinematic Commons Studio, have shown me an alternative way of designing which changed my perception. Learning the craft of moving image and large-scale model-making as part of the design process ended up being a major part of my academic journey at Leeds Beckett and helped form my architectural position of designing experiences and atmospheres instead of lifeless spaces.
During my first year studio project, even though it was challenging as I was trying to adapt in a new way of designing, the idea of engagement and atmospheres in architecture is a vivid concept in my project that taught me to think outside the box and take advantage of the freedom we are being given while in university. Moving forward into my final year and excited to apply all the skills I gained into a new project, I never would have thought that I would have to create almost a year’s work from home. I would lie if I said that it was easy because it wasn’t. Having to go from working in a studio-based environment to trying to produce the same level of work from home was a challenging situation which impacted my productivity at many times. But in this situation, I feel like it has also helped in developing my skills further. Having to work with a big scale digital model which took ages to make, this experience provided opportunities to test my critical thinking as a designer and experiment more with whatever was available at home, like the use of film and model-making to make the concept of atmosphere in my drawings more apparent.
Reaching the end of my architectural studies, I have been fortunate enough to be nominated for the Architect’s Journal Student Prize. My project ‘Transparency Re-Made’ aims to connect the city of Milton Keynes and its prominent recycling industry by proposing a scheme with a series of active, participatory glass recycling processes and situates it directly in the city centre. More specifically, the thesis of the project seeks to integrate the glass recycling and manufacturing processes within Milton Keynes to create a new typology for an ‘inverted factory’ brought in from the outskirts. As part of the more radical attempt to reimagine the recycling industry as a collective and aesthetised process, the ‘inverted factory’ intends to reactivate the experience of reuse by introducing the concept of participatory production and presents new spaces for artistic participation and public engagement. Through the eyes of both workers and artists, the project is looking at developing an architectural scheme that blurs this critical intersection between industry and the city by offering interstitial moments of transparency.
The project proposes an integrated system of glass recycling and remaking facilities directly along the central area of Midsummer Boulevard with the recycling facilities forming a circular network of individual pods, each representing one particular process of glass recycling. These pods of distinct industrial processes are connected via conveyor belts which carry various forms of glass through and to the remaking facilities located in between the two shopping malls. With the intention to offer a new aesthetic to industrial architectural language, new glass remaking structures will be made out of glass bricks, interspersed with moments of opacity and transparency, allowing people to occasionally see though the walls. The interstitial spaces between the industries will restore the length of the Boulevard, but will at the same time, offer narrower avenues of activity, reducing the problematic width of the Boulevard to give it a more concentrated dimension of urban engagement.
Overall, my journey over the past two years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I look forward to apply the skills I gained into my work in the future.