Making Libraries, Making Information, Making Architecture
ARCLIB Annual Conference 2015
Arts University Bournemouth
Will Strange, Arts University Bournemouth.
“Glazed eel pancakes and a raspberry fool: teaching architectural modelmaking.”
The Architectural Model: Context, Concept, Design and Material Made in Miniature a Modelmaking Workshop.
The first late afternoon session set the mood for the rest of the conference with an invitation to participate, make and get busy. This was all in a fun and playful environment where Will Strange set the scene for ARCLIB delegates to immerse themselves in making a model insect. We had various lengths and widths of wire to come up with a creature using some research tools in the form of illustrated books. Our table decided to make a beetle with the ability to receive WiFi on elongated antennae. Trying to make 3D shapes from 2D illustrations was a challenge and the idea was that the model was not to be a replica, but be representative and have some element of risk and creativity.
Will’s modelmaking course endeavors to expand and subvert our notion of how to make models. To take us beyond the comfort zone of replica buildings which attempt to map out the design; ubiquitous in architecture summer degree shows. He challenges students to engage with the materiality of their idea, using 3D laser cutters to build up their confidence, expertise and creativity. The process was interesting to us as it actively encourages students to visit the library and research their ideas, to add depth and meaning and not just simply dream something up. Various projects from AUB BA (Hons) Modelmaking course were presented and how they succeeded or failed in his goals of trying to get the students to think literally ‘outside the box’ and engage with research aspects of the project. Chess pieces, exotic fruit, weird foodstuff, a box of assorted chocolates were seen in the room’s vitrine and on PowerPoint slides and, hence the funny name of his workshop where all was revealed around glazed eel pancakes and raspberry fool.
I worked collaboratively with Elaine Cooke and Michael Veitch so the three of us each contributed to our WiFi beetle. Michael was really enthusiastic bending and molding the wire. Others worked either together or on their own and came up with some fantastical creatures, which we all admired and viewed, in a mini exhibition. The larger than life insects were on display for the duration of the 3 day conference and even started to populate the sand landscape of Simon Beeson’s The Architect’s Table replete with sand, alternative shelters like something out of Drop City with tiny figures.
The model making was followed by a drinks reception with the AUB deputy V-C and an exhibition of music and architecture in a gallery next to the construction site of a new drawing studio designed by Sir Peter Cook and Crab Studio. This is the first time the British architect has a building in the UK and in his hometown of Bournemouth and an alumni of the school. The staff feel fortunate to have his creative contributions to architecture and teaching when he can drop by in his busy schedule. The pavilion looks rather like a scuba diving mask with huge windows to catch the Northern light, various gradations of light play a central theme in the innovative design.
The following day was kick-started by the V-C Professor Stuart Bartholomew who had worked with the architect James Stirling, and drew our attention to the seaside architecture of Bournemouth and in particular the pier, which has a pavilion, designed by James Stirling’s daughter.
Interesting talks from Kaye Towlson and Georgina Dimmock addressed the growing recognition of visual literacy and how librarians can begin to harness this aspect in their own learning and teaching practice.
Ideas Factory ~ Judith Noble and Alan Turner both AUB, had a entertaining array of visual and textual ‘props’ or briefs to encourage students research techniques beyond their comfort zone of the obvious and same answers generated via Google and Wikipedia. To promote student’s curiosity and open their eyes to the vast resources available through archival and library resources. Judith has previously worked and researched with the BBC and was marvellous at inspiring researchers with the need for a decent ‘back-story’ to give gravitas to their research using primary resources and going back to the need for a wide range of research methodologies to add depth and to emphasise the relationships between the visual and textual. That all the skills they instilled are transferable which many students fail to realise.
Simon Beeson’s ~ The Architect’s Table was absorbing and it also encouraged delegates to make things with Froebel’s wooden building blocks and other materials in the room. This venue/room was particularly appropriate to do this kind of making with large tabletops and model making facilities. I enjoyed making things from the various Froebel boxes numbered 2,3,5 they became more complicated in sizes and shape.
Andy Priestner ~ Space and Place: insights from Ethnography. He used his UX or User Experience at Cambridge University Judge Business Library (2007) to inform us about how he altered the unwelcoming culture he encountered when he first arrived. Apparently the library was festooned with posters threatening users if they defaced or stole books. He wanted to change the negativity into something more positive through the notion of feelings. He used the definition from Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches Useful Usable Desirable: applying user experience to library design 2014 ISBN 0838912265
“User experience is about how someone feels when using a product or service”
Bloomsbury Publishing launched a new architecture database in the pipeline based on A History of Architecture by Bannister Fletcher, an updated 21st Colour edition, entirely rewritten, 96 chapters, 16,000 words with much more value added content like 9,000 added buildings, timelines and chapters on areas of architecture omitted due to cultural prejudice at the time (ancient Arabic art) and asked us to fill in a feedback sheet. Bringing interactivity and lesson plans. Intention is to build partnerships as key part of their development plan. Intends to be interoperable with Ebsco, VLE’s like Moodle, Blackboard and other providers Oxford Art online. They had not heard of Credo online reference, which I suggested.
Stephann Makri, City University talked on Building the User Experience: Lessons for Architecture from User Experience Design from his PhD research.
Michael Veitch LSBU Talis Aspire – their experience of building up readings lists and the pro’s and con’s. Interesting arrangement similar to AF and MS pilot at LMU with ALL’s without the product.
Carla Marchesan, Prince’s Foundation & Prince’s School of Traditional Arts with Raffaella Inglese, University of Bologna ~Report from the CNBA Green Libraries Conference and international relations between architecture librarians. Possibility of organising a visit to Bologna.
Lara Lopez-Boronat, Foster + Partners. Re-cataloguing the library and getting a new purpose built space to house the growing collection was very interesting and her presentation was lively and we could all identify with her problems.
Leo Clary UAL ~ re-designing the library space with students. Used re-cycled fabric bales and coloured pencils on the wall to create a warm, welcoming space within the library. Great success.
We had a lovely meal at the Russell-Coates Museum, which was also exhibiting a Mucha poster exhibition the first of its kind outside Prague. The art nouveau style of the house is a perfect setting and so was favoured over other national exhibition venues to the delight of the curator at Russell-Coates.
David Buri, Glasgow School of Art talked about Rebuilding the Mackintosh Library after the dreadful fire that burnt all its contents including book collections and furniture that are sadly irreplaceable. He spoke movingly of the damage and the misery of the experience and the heroic and beyond the call of duty dedication of library staff and fire service. The trauma of the experience hit everyone and has taken time to heal and some staff were offered counselling. He is deeply touched by the generosity of donors including ARCLIB but also has found the selection of possible donations very time consuming, setting a whole day each week aside for this task alone. He needs careful tact if he wishes to refuse a donation, which is draining. Unusual donations from unlikely sources have also been a marvellous. David described an old lady’s gift of an original text her grandfather had kept in the family for generations. He was grateful for a pdf on the GSA website outlining their collection development policy to help with his replies and to alert donors to specific items they wish to replace. Brad Pitt and Peter Capaldi have also become high profile trustees and supporters of the GSA appeal on the new website to help with donations. As well as rebuilding the library he has to keep his own role of librarian alive with work with the students so it is all very tiring. After this more sombre presentation David has also become a more public figure with media coverage but has managed to delegate the social media aspect to a younger staff member. It ended on a humorous note with the idea of a Hollywood movie about the fire with his part being played by the actor Brad Pitt.
Copyright and digitalisation of orphan works, recent changes in copyright and some fantastic case studies from Virginia Power UWE finished off the conference with exceptionally clear and accessible presentations from Ben White from the British Library and Maurizio Borghi, Bournemouth University.
ARCLIB finished on a high note with a walk along Bournemouth seafront with Dr. Katherine Ferry looking at beach huts, bungalows and the history of the seaside holiday and its origins in health and wellbeing. We walked along to Boscombe and a coach took us back to the train station.
ARCLIB feedback from Daphne Chalk-Birdsall, Academic Liaison Librarian
Photographs by Sally Bell.