Dissertation – The Lost Art of the Plaza

Block plans of famous city squares (left to right, top to bottom, respectively):
Trafalgar Square, London, England; Times Square, New York, USA; Pla├ža de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; Place de la Concorde, Paris, France

For the dissertation aspect of the RIBA OBE Part II course, I chose to focus on the cultural-context module (rather than technology or economics) and to take a closer look at role of the plaza in everyday urban life. It was a really interesting piece to research, and the first hand surveying of Plymouth’s usage of these open spaces was incredibly illuminating. It took me from the historical inception of even the term ‘plaza’ all the way through to infrastructure and guerrilla urban design techniques of the modern age.

Please feel free to read through the dissertation by clicking here.

Candidacy on the RIBA Office Based Examination Part 2

I am officially on the RIBA OBE (Part 2) course, as of the beginning of March, and I’m actually really enjoying it. It’s a fairly intense process though – since I have 3 papers to be handed in by the 1st of May: a dissertation synopsys; design modules and an examination on law to study for. Apart from that, it’s very relaxing.One of the nice things about the course is that it encourages you to look into fields – not necessarily in architecture – that interest you, in order to read around a variety of subjects and see how other disciplines can relate to architecture. For example, in my technological study paper I will be studying Lichens as a viable alternative to the recent trend of green roofs. It’s an odd topic, but one which explores an extremely interesting organism. Hopefully, through my research I will be able to find a realistic way to use Lichens as a facade.

Rendering showing a ‘lichenised facade’

Fun facts:

  • Lichens are neither classified a fungi or moss, but actually a combination of algae and fungi working in symbiosis.
  • Lichen can only photosynthesise when it’s wet, moisture allows the algae to produce sugars when the outermost layers of moss turn transparent – this is why lichens nearly always turn green when it rains.
  • Some colonies of lichen count as some of the oldest living organisms on the planet.