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University of Cambridge
Architecture Society

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Rod Heyes & Prisca Thielmann 


The ongoing estrangement of human beings from the rest of nature is having catastrophic results. Our global economic system is profoundly destructive and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed its vulnerability, inequity, and lack of compassion. Lockdown has also shown us that, with strong enough resolve, rapid change is possible, that existing and new communities can blossom despite difficult circumstances, and that people, animals and plants can become better connected. Architects can take advantage of this pivotal moment to promote alternative ways of living. We should describe worlds that rely less on consumption, linear transaction and the exhaustion of people and resources. We can imagine places that embody joy, cyclicality, and collaboration, where people take greater pleasure in one another and in the world around them.

Notions of the rural are changing, and space is opening up, both literal and intellectual. A reconnection with the land, and with plants and animals, could make us long-termists – attentive, knowledgeable, vigorous, and painstaking. Skills in dealing with contingency and complexity, understanding and reinterpreting the vernacular, anticipating and enjoying entropy, will all be needed in a low-carbon world. Reliance on one another and on the resources close at hand will become a joyful necessity.

The studio worked on the site of the Bacton Gas Terminal in North- East Norfolk. As our dependence on fossil fuels finally wanes, the site will gradually fall out of use. The coast is eroding rapidly, and huge amounts of energy are spent protecting it. What might the future of this site look like when these carbon-intensive activities stop? We thought about buildings less as fixed monumental artefacts, and more as temporary arrangements of matter and energy that require repair, rebuilding and recycling – what Cedric Price calls ‘beneficial distortions of the environment’. The brief involved a hard-nosed reappraisal of Francois Cointereaux’s Agritecture and demanded new understandings of the relationship between land, co-operation, and material culture. Varied projects emerged in which the students made an art of noticing the landscape around them, positioned themselves somewhere between the industrial and the ecological, and imagined ways of building with plants.


Graham Bizley

Lettice Drake

Alice Foxley

Julian Lewis

Judith Loesing

Nina Lundvall

Amy Perkins

Bernd Schmutz

Ingrid Schroeder

Ales Seitl

Helen Stratford

Ingrid Schröder

Visiting Teaching

Summer Islam

Brigid McLeer

Lorenzo de Chiffre

Natalie Simmons

Technical Teaching

Megan Morrison

Nora Walter


Year 1