Programme Director: Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou
We decided to run the MSc Architecture and Sustainable Environment programme virtually only, which meant the students did not have to travel to the UK. Despite the challenges, this offered some unexpected opportunities, enabling the participants to engage with wider resources and study more
in-depth other climatic contexts.
The lack of physical access to archives in the UK became an opportunity, with students in different countries discovering online archives to study buildings in their home countries. For example, the digital repository of the National Library of Norway, provided an important resource for the module ‘Rediscovery - Understanding Historic Buildings and Past Environmental Technologies’ by Professor Henrik Schoenefeldt. The module culminated with the students presenting their research to the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), specialist Heritage Group, receiving feedback from professionals.
The module ‘Principles of Environmental Design’ by Dr Richard Watkins also provided an interesting range of case studies and climates, while the brief for the ‘Sustainable Design Project’ by Dr Giridharan Renganathan, a ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre’, pertinent during the pandemic, provided additional opportunities to engage with their urban locality.
My own module ‘Monitoring and Modelling of Environmental Performance’ provided yet another opportunity for engaging with different climates, which would have been impossible in a typical year. Instead of monitoring different buildings in Canterbury, as was the case in the past, the participants surveyed their own homes. This provided a unique opportunity to study, comparing and contrasting different housing conditions, standards and climatic contexts from London and Edinburgh, to Kristiansand in Norway.
As they are currently embarking on their dissertations, we also celebrate the work of one of our alumnae, Leire Dominguez-De-Teresa, who did her dissertation on one of our research projects. Leire’s work was included in the conference paper, Climate change adaptation and retrofit of a Victorian townhouse in Margate: the five-year living lab, for the Passive and Low Energy Architecture International Conference in September 2020, where it received a commendation.
In a year like no other, it has been inspiring having our students’ engaging with local concerns in different regions, through the cross-disciplinary approach in sustainable architecture promoted by the programme and supported by our staff. Bridging the traditional boundaries between humanities and sciences, research and practice, along with the strong analytical and research skills our students develop, they are well equipped to face the challenges in their professional life in the post-pandemic era.