Dezeen Magazine

University for the Creative Arts spotlights six architecture projects

Dezeen School Shows: a digital detox centre designed to improve people's mental health and a project that explores what might happen if London ran out of coal are featured in Dezeen's latest school show by students at the University for the Creative Arts.

Also included is a pre-school village designed for children's wellbeing and a community hub that aims to provide clarity on climate change action.

University for the Creative Arts

School: University for the Creative Arts
Courses: BA (Hons) Architecture and Master of Architecture

School statement:

"Design changes landscapes as well as lives – whether by rejuvenating dilapidated buildings or adapting an interior space to accommodate people from all walks of life.

"We challenge our students to look at design with an activists' approach – to consider the environmental, functional and economic impact of the buildings, spaces and products they design.

"This year's Graduation Show is the culmination of years of rigorous learning, refining skills and developing innovative ideas – bringing you concepts that could shape the future.

"To view more of UCA's architecture courses visit its website."

A render of a digital detox centre

The Digital Detox Centre by Jack Cirket

"Based on the bank of the Hertford Region Canal in Tower Hamlets, London, The Digital Detox Centre is a building designed to improve people's mental health by focusing on the real world instead of technology.

"Tower Hamlets has one of the worst levels of mental health in London and technology addiction is an international issue connected to mental health. Google has teamed up with Vitality to create a facility that helps with both these issues.

"The centre has three key focuses: mind, social and experience. Mind includes spaces such as meditation, yoga and healing gardens. These spaces are designed to allow the brain to be open and focus on what is needed to heal itself.

"Social includes spaces such as a cafe, music hall and restaurant. These spaces are about being together in the real world without the distraction of technology.

"Experience includes six different rooms designed to challenge the brain and push it to its potential and these spaces comprise Silent, Dark, Water, Music, Salt and Ambient rooms.

"All together these spaces create the journey of The Digital Detox Centre."

Student: Jack Cirket
Course: BA (Hons) Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1)
Instagram: @jackcirket_arch

If London Ran on Coal by Will GuareA black and white architectural illustration
If London Ran on Coal by Will Guare

"The unease around the recent explosion in gas prices, due to current world issues, raises questions over the use of gas within the United Kingdom.

"And the proposition around the urgent need for power and warmth resulting in the revival of the British coal industry is not entirely farfetched.

"This project explores how London would manifest itself once again if it ran on coal. In a city of smog, the proposal is for a structure for producing clean air – filtering the pollutants and creating a space to be and experience nature.

"This air factory can sell clean air as a commodity to those fortunate enough to afford it and create an atmosphere that is usually only achievable within the parks of London if such places were not overrun by pollution."

Student: Will Guare
Course: BA (Hons) Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1)
Instagram: @williamguare

Chisenhale Pre-School Village by Zoe Symonds A diagrammed of Chisenhale Pre-School Village
Chisenhale Pre-School Village by Zoe Symonds 

"The population of Tower Hamlets is growing by 15 residents every day. Population growth demands more homes, which in turn significantly impacts existing social and physical infrastructure, including schools for all ages.

"In 2010, a study conducted by Professor Barratt and his team at Oxford University concluded that seven physical characteristics of a school can impact the learning process of children by up to 16 per cent. The 'Clever Classroom' study looked at clean air, ownership, temperature, natural light, complexity, flexibility and colour

"It is these seven characteristics that can be embedded through to the core of the Chisenhale Pre-School Village.

"Everything has been designed with the users of the village in mind. For example, door handles suited for both children and teachers, lower windowsills for better child visibility, easy access around the school using a gentle ramp, flexible spaces to be used for multiple activities, gentle but stimulating colours to signpost areas and to give a sense of belonging and ownership, and play areas undercover but outside, with built-in sandpit and play spaces.

"While the wellbeing of the children is paramount, this is connected to the wellbeing of our planet on which the children should thrive.

"Energy is harnessed from solar panels that run the water source heat pump – using water from the adjacent canal. And biodiversity allows the children to be at one with nature while helping to remove the harmful particles from the London air."

Student: Zoe Symonds
Course: BA (Hons) Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1)

An architectural illustration of The SmokeHouse

The Haaf Netters Rest by Jack Harding

"The Haaf Netters Rest is a cross-border community land acquisition project, geared towards providing transparency as to who owns the land within Site 09 and servicing the needs of a specific local community – the Haaf Netters of the Solway Firth.

"Who owns the green and pleasant land of Great Britain is a question with which the answer is not immediately forthcoming. The people who have the ownership rights over vast tracks of the country are often obscured by numerous trusts, shell companies and offshore entities.

"Operating out of the oversight of the masses means boundaries can be overstepped as to what would be deemed in the common good of the people to which the land used to belong. Whoever owns the land can decide who has access to it, who can enjoy it, and ultimately who can exploit it."

Student: Jack Harding
Course: Master of Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part2)

A render of a community hub at night

Climate Action Assembly by Keerthigan Thavaseelan

"Climate Action Assembly is a proposal for a hub for different environmental NGOs and the public to discuss, research and synergise climate action. This project aims to reframe the topic of climate change, provide clarity on the issue and synergise climate action.

"Invisible elements of climate change, such as CO2, would be brought to the forefront to let people fully experience the consequence of climate change in their day-to-day lives.

"The overall strategy of the project would be to design a temporary structure that can be assembled from different ready-made systems. The structure can be reconfigured and deployed across the world, gradually changing the conversation on climate change.

"The structure proposed for this project would be a larger scaled configuration situated in central London to initiate new environmental NGOs in the area and respond to the high frequency of organisations that contribute towards climate disinformation."

Student: Keerthigan Thavaseelan
Course: Master of Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part2)

Chisenhale Mental Wellness Centre by Joseph Williams

"This project focuses on healing and treating mental illness in the Tower Hamlets area – increasing wellness and decreasing stigma. In the borough, more than 10 per cent of the population suffers from a form of mental illness and there is just one mental health facility.

"The borough also has a high prevalence of risk factors such as deprivation and poverty. A place to disconnect, talk with others and rebalance.

"The concept is based around integrating nature into everyday life and harnessing its healing properties through interaction with nature and the use of natural materials.

"The centre provides a space for healing and recovery, with individual and group areas, as well as exercise spaces, treatments, and private overnight rooms. There is a focus on clean air, nature, and natural light – all of which have been proven to improve mental wellness.

"The building is also designed to reduce air pollution levels and increase biodiversity – two other global problems we face today.

"The centre will be a place to disconnect, talk with others and rebalance, a place to heal without shame, surrounded by a healing design that encourages mental wellness."

Student: Joseph Williams
Course: BA (Hons) Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 1)

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and UCA. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.