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Uncalculated Certainty: Towards a New Plan

Part 2 Dissertation 2010
Cameron Young
University of Strathclyde | UK
Within the small, dense print of the 1966 Architects’ Journal, a radical proposal with the aim of “totally restructuring the national architectural education machine” was published by the influential architect Cedric Price. The controversial NATIONAL SCHOOL PLAN still presents a challenge to the current model of architectural pedagogy. Cedric Price’s Plan is characterised by the fact that vastly improved collaboration between schools and students would bring about an increase in educational mobility resulting in an overall improvement in the standard and range of architectural education.

To accomplish this, Price employed his impressive understanding of the political, social and economical environments of the time. Capturing the imagination of the students, he proposed to create a national conversation and liberate them from the existing constraints of the model, whilst allowing their positive contribution.

Today, recent financial developments, such as the introduction of Top-Up Fees in England, and the “uncalculated” proposed funding decrease for Scottish students, has served to further isolate the student and the network. In addition, regular media reports announce the ever-increasing figures of graduate unemployment. Current, long-term, funding deficiencies mean the traditional methods employed in the previous decade to surmount this problem can no longer be seen as sustainable. It is therefore imperative for the architectural community to “think its way out of these difficulties”. (Atlee A, 2010)

If there is one forum which should be at the heart of this solution-focused conversation producing new models or paradigms, it is the collective architectural academic community of Universities. Universities are in a unique position as being places with an abundance of fresh ideas, talents and abilities.

UNCALCULATED CERTAINTY: TOWARDS A NEW PLAN examines the potential influence of this document on today’s pedagogical systems in architecture, from a student’s perspective.
A modern evolution of Cedric Price’s proposals in the form of ‘Polyark II: The Railway Project’ is analysed and compared to the original ‘Polyark I’. The new model regenerates the network within architectural education that enables a greater collective environment in which to study: towards a new, more inclusive and collaborative architectural plan.

Cameron Young

A politically and economically relevant piece of research, this dissertation presents both a critical understanding of the development of architectural pedagogy and an introspective analysis of the author’s own experiences. The author questions what the future of architectural education and practice may be in an economically unstable climate.

With specific reference to the proposed funding cuts within higher education the author examines the development of studio culture, including; the 19th Century academies of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the radical 1966 National Schools Plan proposal by Cedric Price and more recently Polyark II: The Railway Project. Polyark II is a re-envisaged version of Price’s 1971 Polyark I, the Red Bus. The author participated in the recent Polyark II project, and draws on his own experience, collaborating within a network of 8 schools of architecture to successfully critique Price’s 1966 proposals.

The topic chosen is of timeous significance and critically reviews contemporary pedagogic examples and sets out proposals for the learning environment of the future resulting in an original, valuable piece of critical writing.

This is a coherently written, ambitious piece of research, which explores the relevance of architectural education to the social, political and economical time in which it inhabits.

Jacqueline Lister
Lesley Palmer
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