Critical Subjects: Architecture & Design Winter School

The Critical Subjects Architecture and Design Winterschool is a unique opportunity for students to engage in a series of intellectual architectural design challenges facilitated by leading names in the field.

Launched as an educational experiment in 2010, the starting point for this new school is that a university does not exist simply to convey information or expertise, but must provide an environment conducive to discovery and the pursuit of truth through active discussion and engagement with difficult concepts and ideas.

In the first school, 26 students (out of 157 applicants from across the UK) explored topics such as critical thinking, beauty, visionary architecture, classicism and proportion, social criticism and historical thinking through engaging in a series of debates led by three influential speakers who made short presentations and then led an hour-long discussion.  Speakers included architects, engineers, film critics, economists, classical music critics, political advisors, artists, academics, journalists and philosophers.  After the day of debate the students took part in overnight design project that offered further space to explore the theoretical ideas discussed during the previous day. These projects were then presented to a panel of leading architectural commentators, academics and practitioners in the morning.

Alastair Donald’s review of Critical Subjects for the online magazine Culture Wars can be read here

Watch the Three Classicists at Critical Subjects

What they said about Critical Subjects:

“The event was a fantastic opportunity to broaden my education and learn new ways of thinking about my subject and the wider world. It was great to have input and debate with so many leading thinkers across such a broad range of fields, not just architecture. To hear their thoughts on the role of architecture in today’s society has broadened my way of thinking on the subject.” Rowan Morrice, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment student. For more click here

“It was a privilege to engage with the best and brightest students. I left with more thoughts than I brought with me. It is distinctly possible that the future of architecture and the city could be more cheerful than I had imagined.” Ray Tallis, physician, poet and polymath

I enjoyed it very much! It was about generosity.”  Colin Fournier, co-architect with Peter Cook of the Kunsthau Graz

“It was brilliant and we loved it.” Ben Pentreath, The Three Classicists

Blueprint is delighted to be media partner for Critical Subjects, an intellectual endurance test for aspiring architects. With an intensity of ideas combined with practical challenges, mantownhuman’s Winter School has the potential to shift the outlook of a generation towards a more ambitious view of the future“. Blueprint, Media Partner for Critical Subjects

Full testimonials from Critical Subjects can be found here 

Tutors, speakers, advisors and judges

Critical Subjects gathered together some of the key practitioners and critics of architecture, design, urbanism, engineering, art and journalism.  As well as offering the benefits of their experience on the day, they helped shape the sessions and judged the competition entries.

Tutors and Speakers:

Patrik Schumacher, partner, Zaha Hadid Architects; Antony Oliver, editor, New Civil Engineer; Michael Owens, Senior urban regeneration expert; former head of development policy, London Development Agency; Kevin Carmody, partner Carmody Groarke; Cosmo Landesman, film critic, Sunday Times; Vicky Richardson, director, Architecture, Design & Fashion, British Council; Michael Estorick, chairman, Estorick Foundation; Sean Griffiths, director, FAT; Nick Johnson, deputy chief executive, Urban Splash; Munira Mirza, director, Arts, Culture & the Creative Industries, Mayor of London; Hugh Pearman, editor, RIBA Journal; architectural critic, Sunday Times; Cecil Balmond, described by Anish Kapoor as the “world’s greatest engineer“; Philippe Legrain, author, visiting fellow, London School of Economics’ European Institute; Ray Tallis,philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic (listed by the Economist as “one of the top living polymaths in the world“; Ximo Peris, Creative director, Architecture, CrystalCG; Alan Hudson, Director, Oxford University’s Leadership Programmes for China; Martin Powell, Environment Adviser to the Mayor of London; Ivan Hewett, classical music correspondent, Daily Telegraph; Rory Olcayto, deputy editor, Architects’ Journal.

Advisory and Judging Panel:

Edwin Heathcote, architecture and design critic, Financial Times; Matthew Collings, writer and host of Channel 4’s Turner Prize coverage; Vicky Richardson, director, Architecture, Design & Fashion, British Council; Peter Kelly, editor, Blueprint; Amin Taha, Amin Taha Architects; Cany Ash, Ash Sakula; Pauline Hadaway, director, Belfast Exposed; Cathy Slessor, editor, The Architectural Review; Nadim Karam, founder, Atelier Hapsitus [Beirut]; Munira Mirza, director, Arts, Culture & the Creative Industries, Mayor of London; Rafael Vinoly, founder, Rafael Vinoly Architects; Kristen Richards, editor-in-chief, Oculus and [New York]; Jonathan Glancey, architecture correspondent, The Guardian; Kate Goodwin, architecture programme curator, Royal Academy; Enrique Norten, principal, TEN Arquitectos (New York/ Mexico City); Lise Anne Couture, principal, Asymptote Architecture (New York); Joe Ewart, founder, Society; Tim Marlow, creative director, White Cube; Michael Sorkin, founder, Michael Sorkin Studio; director, graduate urban design program, CUNY; Gilane Tawadros, chief executive, Design and Artists Copyright Society; Gordon Murray, founder, Gordon Murray Architects; past president, RIAS; chair, SCHOSA (Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture); Tot Brill, Executive Director, Transport, Environment and Leisure Services, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea; CJ Lim, founder, Studio 8; John McRae, director, ORMS…

Critical Subjects was sponsored by Eckersley O’Callaghan Structural Design and produced in partnership with Blueprint and DACS.