Encountering the wonderful range of work at this year’s Interior Environmental Design show, I was astonished at the level of research put into each project. Social and environmental responsibilities are a vital part of each project as students interact with focus groups, seek out desolate areas to revitalise, and build countless models in search of suitable materials.
As I make my way through photographs, maquettes and digital sketches, a design that stands out is Emma Sproul’s ”The Dock Project”. In collaboration with SWIIS Foster Care Agency, Sproul has designed a multifaceted educational, residential and leisure facility for those transitioning from life in foster care to independence and adulthood. The project tackles problems of a disrupted education that are often unavoidable for those growing up in the care system. Local enterprises are encouraged to get involved in workshops at this facility, allowing foster children to develop transferable skills that can further career prospects. Mindfulness and social inclusion reappear throughout the show. Marc Johnston’s project is centred around the use of a “breathing” kinetic tricycle mechanism. At the touch of its handle bars, the tricycle moves its surrounding wooden structure fluidly and reveals messages that are mindful about energy use. This unique apparatus allows for a more playful, positive discussion of climate change.
Many of the students have set out to revise negative feelings attached to certain activities such as classroom learning, office work and theatre. One such student is Isobel Jones who has liaised with Dundee City Council in order to transform Dundee’s Olympia multi-storey carpark into a set for a contemporary dance production. As she guides the audience from one parking bay “scene” to the next, exclusivity associated with theatre is diminished and new perceptions of public spaces are formed. In a similar attempt to regenerate public space, Greig Cockburn has taken Scotland’s traditional rural bothy to the city with the intent of creating a rentable breathing space for the peripatetic worker.
Amongst all of these elaborate plans of spaces and buildings is Ruaridh Given’s “Discovery Bench”, an interactive bench crafted from aluminium and oak. The bench is designed as an informative supplement to Dundee’s future V&A museum. Whenever visitors sit on the bench, it senses their presence and begins to inform them about cultural events and discussions through an earphone port. Different materials have been employed in intriguing ways throughout the exhibition. Urška Tičar addresses outdated classroom routines with expandable, honeycomb-paper models co-designed by students to promote creative thinking. One model includes a climbing frame that students can explore as a new learning environment. In stark contrast to this inexpensive facility, Alex Morariu’s high-end hotel, set in a forest on the shores of Loch Rannoch, boasts a thatched roof that takes its shape from the ears of the endangered native red squirrel. The most in-depth exploration of materials can be found in Aymeric Renoud’s “No 1341”, an ambitious indoor cycling museum and track, designed with a view to encourage interest in this environmentally friendly mode of transport. Complete with a toughened glass bridge that connects the surrounding City Quay area, Renoud presents impressively detailed plans outlining the location, foundation and bones of the structure. Situated in a park surrounded by institutions that have access to the facility and accessible through secure corridors at night, AbubakrJaved’s youth centre is safe and welcoming to the youth of Preston.
The variety of work offered by the Interior Environmental Design students transforms the Matthew Building Gallery into an educational passageway. The interiors showcase is a must-see for those in the industry and lay people alike.