Category Archives: Just Stuff

Getting DMUsed to it…

Just finished what i think is my 4th week teaching in 2nd year at the Leicester School of Architecture. Small group today, but good students. We just talked about their projects on a loosely individual basis, where others could take part of they wanted.

I found this quite rewarding. It was nice after having two very focussed sessions in the previous weeks to have an opportunity to look at their projects as a whole, and think about their interim reviews in a couple of weeks time. I guess they’re also getting to know who I am now too. This made things a bit more familiar, and i found it easier to hear them out before trying to empathise with their situation and help them work out a strategy for moving on.

Im finding teaching really interesting. Ive always been quite critical of who is allowed to teach on architecture courses – my employment highlights the fact in can be anyone! Ive no formal teaching qualification and im not fully qualified as an architect…so on what basis can i be trusted with other peoples’ education? Especially an expensive one…

But i guess what is important is actually the reflective nature of the teachers themselves. Maybe the simple fact that i am interested in improving as a teacher is reason enough? Teaching – like the social production of design – is about co-creating knowledge; about building a common ground for dialogue about an idea that can be put into practice, and in this respect i guess i’ve had five or six years of training! In treating my role as an educator like my role as a designer, i can help students on their journey towards bettering themselves. A solution of aspiration and best fit that is not unlike the design for production of a building, product, service, event, etc

But how can i remain fresh? And resist the idea of settling into a job in a way that breeds complacency and – in the worst cases – apathy and dislocation from those whose time you have taken custody? This happens too often, and these formative and (now expensive) years are just too important to let that happen.

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A new home…


As of now, this is home. Alzette House, Bethnal Green, London….right near the Herrford Union canal and a 30minute stroll to hackney wick

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Kyong Park, ‘urban ecology’ and the Fugitive House…

Writing up Live Projects, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering this beautiful project. Kyong Park, talking about his nomadic form of architectural and artistic practice, can be found on Vimeo here. In a world where everything is relational, it makes no sense for practice to fixed in one place, Park says. An interesting interview with him can also be found here.

18mins – Brief summary of the Fugitive House

36mins – Concept of Urban Ecology as something we have created, and how dramatic visualisation enables us to view cities as organisms.

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An interesting guy….Alan Simpson

This man sounds interesting….

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(Re)Learning how to 3D Print…

There was a time when I knew how to do all this stuff….

But things have moved on. And every School seems to have a different piece of kit and to have bought different bits of software (and avoided paying for different things like training its staff how to use the equipment.). So after committing myself to building a model of the University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower for the upcoming Heritage Day,  I’m finding I have to relearn everything I thought I knew…

More about Heritage Day here.


Lesson 1 – Build model from scratch. Dont attempt to use an inheritted model in an attempt to save time. I was lucky enough that HLM Architects have recently completed a refurbishment of the Tower, and have constructed a detailed Sketchup model to accompany it, also generously making it available via Google’s 3D Warehouse. However, there are 2 issues; a) modelled at 1:1, there is simply too much detail for the 3D printer to handle at 1:200; and b) the process of constructing a digital model in Sketchup often results in shapes crashing into other shapes, and faces and the geometry ending up inside other pieces of model. This sends the 3D printer into meltdown.

Good tutorial help available here.

I could (and probably should) be using Vectorworks or Rhino to create a ‘cleaner’ 3D model to print from…

Lesson 2 – Our particular process is this: Sketchup > Sketchup Plugin (Convert to DXF or STL) > Check in Meshlabs > 3D Printer proprietory software > Print! This is a ‘beta’ method, as the Sketchup plugin frequently has problems. We’re using a Z-Corporation ‘Z-Printer 350’. So my current workflow is;

1/    Take detailed sketchup model (inherritted) at 1:1.

2/    Rationalise into components to be 3D printed by deleting unnecessary detail / tectonic elements and ‘tracing’ over the orginal model (locked).

3/    Copy clean, rationalised components into their own sketchup file (still at 1:1)

4/    Scale (by factor 0.005) to get 1:200 model. Locate with one of the verticies on origin.

5/    Run rubyscript plugin ‘Convert to DXF of STL’.

6/    Find file. Rename with file extension .stl.

7/    Open in Meshlabs to check that .stl export (and file extension trick) has worked.

8/    Email to James at the print unit to check on the machine’s proprietary software, ZEdit Pro.

9/ …and it works!

To be continued…

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The Retirement Home For Amnesiac Wizards…or What’s Wrong With Architectural Education

A good article I’ve come across by Alastair Parvin, a former Sheffield student, in Makeshift magazine’s online stuff…

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Growing plants that produce oxygen for buildings…

Kamal Meattle’s TED talk gives real details about how you can grow plants to improve air quality, which ones you need and how many of them…here.

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Tarzan & Arab – Creativity in a warzone…

Tarzan and Arab are two Gazan artists recently interviewed by The Guardian…the interview can be found here

I find their take on their own (Palestinian) situation very enlightened, especially given the occasionally bigoted accounts I have heard in my own conversations…

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An interesting example of what Julian Dobson of New Start Magazine describes as a ‘Just have Fun and Do It anyway’ (JFDI) approach to regeneration, community participation and project initiation in the built environment. Walsall100 sought to reveal the story’s of a place, helping regeneration efforts to value what already exists in a place rather than merely seeking to change it through a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude to speculative development.

Read Dan Slee’s interesting article…

Or Walsall Council’s comprehensive information page at Walsall100.



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This guys got a good idea…

Architecture 5 cents…changing how we engage with those that might make use of our skills.

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