Emma Bennett was drawn to the University because of its good reputation, and is now leaving her sixth year at ECA. She has been part of a collaborative thesis, with students Emma Henderson and Shona Sivamohan, where she has produced a proposal for a new urban landscape in the bay in Havana.
As our thesis work has developed both conceptually and technically. We’ve looked to lots of different visual and literary references that go beyond ‘traditional’ architects’ projects. The nature of the Integrated Pathway in the MArch programme means that from day one you are developing a way of thinking about, and reacting to, complex conditions of a contemporary city. Therefore, our final year has seen us continue to develop our thesis: a proposal for a new urban landscape in the bay in Havana that responds to the displacement of those affected by the restoration of the historic city centre. We’ve explored this through drawing, making, reading and conversations.
We’ve been really fortunate to research Havana at a time of lots of political, environmental, social and economic change for the city. We’ve worked through a reverse on Obama’s attempts to end hostility between Cuba and the USA in the election of Trump, the death of Cuba’s first communist leader Fidel Castro and the effects of Category 5 Hurricane Irma. This has required us to think carefully about the effects of our proposals in an ever-changing context.
The nature of the two-year Integrated Pathway asks for a level of commitment that requires a lot of patience, but is equally rewarding. As a group we’re good at saying when enough is enough, and helping each other to see that. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun too, a balance which I think has been essential to making the past two years really enjoyable. I have, of course, been very fortunate to share it in the friendship of Emma and Shona.
I applied to the University of Edinburgh for the undergraduate MA Architecture course in 2011 having been drawn to ESALA’s good reputation and the opportunity to study in a great city. Six years later and I’m still here! Being part of the College of Art with its dedicated staff and excellent facilities made it an easy decision to choose staying here for the MArch (Royal Institute of British Architects Part II) programme.
Vicky Bernie and Adrian Hawker, our studio leaders, have been an incredible reference and support over the past two years. They’ve pushed us to think beyond our first understandings, which, whilst at times has been challenging, has developed us academically and personally in ways I am incredibly grateful for. We’re also indebted to the support of the workshop and media technicians, who are unbelievably patient and helpful.
Something that has been really good about the group dynamic is that there aren’t fixed roles as such, but instead we’re always re-evaluating where we’re at and what we need to do to move forward. This means each week is really varied, which I’ve found helps to keep us motivated and also gives each of us the opportunity to develop new skills.