Author: Lilya McGinley -

Having heard about the esteemed Basil Spence Competition long before joining Bath University, I was apprehensive going into the project as I felt that the last four years had, in many ways, been building up to this point. With hindsight, I realise that I should not have been nervous at all. This project has been incredibly rewarding and, thanks to my team members, the 10 weeks we spent working together were unbelievably fun. Even amidst the stress of deadlines, our time in studio would be full of laughter, and our support for each other eased the press­ure immensely. We were all able to bring our own individual strengths and interests to the project, and I feel our final scheme really reflects this.

We spent the first few weeks exploring our initial ideas, jumping from design to design, each of which was so different to the last. After many iterations and our first crit, we grew in confidence, as the tutors highlighted that our colonnades were a strong feature and had the potential of playing a more significant role in the building.

We developed this further and, after weeks of discussions, we explored the possibility of exposing our services. This was when we knew we had landed on our idea. Compared to group projects that I have worked on in previous years, it took a lot longer to reach a final design concept this time. However, looking back, I think this extra time resulted in us reaching a more thoroughly developed scheme.

I am thankful for having such great engineers who were completely involved in every stage of the project. The structural side of design is an area where I’ve lacked confidence in the past, but after working with Yoyo and Curtis, I now feel so much more knowledgeable. I felt I could ask them about anything and we all communicated incredibly well. Almost all of our design decisions stemmed from our structural strategy and this resulted in a highly integrated end product. A highlight of the project was being told during a structural tutorial that our scheme was “brutally simple in the best way”, a comment which spurred us on.

A hand holds a Polaroid of the team members
Our team

Each person in the team contributed equally and we soon got to know each other’s working styles. My role in the team was to provide visual elements for the project including conceptual renders, elevations and sections, as well as helping with model making and the design report. I felt that I brought my own touch to the project and it was great that everybody did the same.

A proud moment for me was the team being complimented for attempting to assume the role of an M&E specialist. This was a real challenge that we needed to overcome due to our desire to take our exposed services a step further and eventually the team managed to plan out a possible service routing for the whole building.

However, through all our ups and downs, the team always stayed positive and retained a constant sense of humour. I’ll miss Michael’s extremely inquisitive nature, Matt’s hilarious impressions and Sweta’s infectious enthusiasm (apart from when she’s hangry). I have learnt so much from my peers and tutors during Basil Spence, and I am so proud of what we have achieved.  It truly was a team effort.

Posted in: Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

See the 2019 Basil Spence winning design


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