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Ashley graduated in 2012. He won a RIBA Regional Award for his degree work, and now works for Nissen Richards Studio in London.
As my interest in design grew I often found myself discovering interesting work coming from the school and I wanted to become part of that community.
I always work by making something, as such my work and portfolio functions like a diary. My interest in architecture is never fixed or consistent it is always affected by the new things that I discover every day; as such a design never gets finished. My work is very intuitive, so always producing something helps tell the story of how my designs evolve with the handy bonus of a thick portfolio come the time of hand-ins. My work shown here is from my final project where the consumption in the city has been so extreme that it begins consuming itself. An urban nuisance, the pigeon, becomes a harvested product that is captured, quarantined and killed to be fed back into the city.
A typical day
The daytime on the course is very social, working in the studio, sharing references, discussing ideas and how to make that inexplicable idea real. However, get a good playlist and prepare yourself for long nights of grafting our drawings and models as the course will demand you to be constantly producing. There are limitless ways to explore and represent architectural ideas so on any day you never know what you might find yourself doing. The result is that the course is demanding and responsive, it feeds off what you bring to the conversation where there is no right answer and no correct way of doing things.
With Architecture you have the ability to investigate and challenge the way in which we live in our world. It is pushed, pulled and moulded by a plethora of factors which has to be crafted into a response that people will interact with countless times in their daily lives. Architecture can be a subtle or bold, explicit or discovered but is never achieved in isolation, it is highly collaborative process that is always achieved through working and responding to design. Any designer would tell you that inspiration can come from anywhere and to surround yourself within a internationally renowned creative power house was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
The course asks you to be eager and ambitious. You've got to be a messy perfectionist, someone who takes great pride in his or her work but isn't afraid of making something ugly. The design process never finishes so you need to be that person that always says just one more version, one more iteration. Ask an architect what their best building is and they'll say it’s their next one.
Through the studio culture you find out about things happening and going on and there is normally someone in industry who could do with some extra hands on a project. Whilst studying I helped projects varying from building of a installation at the Barbican Centre, to community outreach programs, and paid internships during the summer breaks. Ask around and there is always something you can get involved with.
The city has been and incredible resource and influence on my work. The diversity and global connections of the city creates a vibrant mix of culture that is unlike any other city in the UK. It has, and still is, a battle trying to find the time to go to all the things you want to do, you certainly don't need to buy a TV because you'll never use it.
At CSM everyone is doing something amazing, behind every door is something new and unexpected and its all under one roof and is the primary drive of the school. The staff are dedicated and ever-ready to help you push and develop ideas further and seeing the weird and wonderful ideas that the school produces is incredible. Since graduating I've been back talking and helping students, every time I come back to the College it feels like walking into another world.
Two cliché pieces of advice would be: You can learn a lot more from making a mistake rather than succeed; often a mistake is more interesting. Never be precious about an idea, allowing it to be manipulated and influenced is what makes it exciting.
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