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HEA ADM Annual Forum 2010. Create Sustain Ability. Justin Carter Lecturer Sculpture and Environmental Art, Glasgow School of Art. Case Study ‘The Nature of Stuff’.

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hea adm annual forum 2010

HEA ADM Annual Forum 2010

Create Sustain Ability

case study the nature of stuff
Case Study‘The Nature of Stuff’

‘The social spaces through which we live do not only consist of bricks and mortar, streets and bridges, mountains and sea-shore, and of what we make of these things. They consist also of those less tangible spaces we construct out of social interaction’.

(Doreen Massey. Space-time and the Politics of Location)

  • A two-week cross-school project (involving students and staff from Fine Art, Architecture and Design) 120 students/10 staff
  • Exploration of place in relation to sustainability (habitation being the question)
  • Collaborative group approach encouraging qualitative research methods and speculation
  • Built on foundations of Problem Based Learning (John Biggs)

‘Such learning will be reflexive, experiential, inquiring, experimental, participative, iterative, real world and action oriented, invoking learning as change’.

(Stephen Sterling. Ecological Intelligence)

  • Using the Common Academic Framework (CAF) as an opportunity to explore the subject of sustainability which is by definition cross-disciplinary
  • Aligning the CAF in an appropriate way from each disciplnary/departmental/school perspective (ie. matching site analysis in architecture with site visits in Environmental Art)
This project is a collaboration between the GSA and Internationally renowned sculptor Susumu Shingu who is currently working on ‘Breathing Earth’, a long term project to create sustainable settlements. This project seeks to pursue underlying research into the sustainability of habitation and settlement and to understand the individuality of place. It is Shingu’s goal to exchange ideas with students from the GSA and to expand our collective understanding of sustainability. The goal of the project is to explore what place means through practical testing and critical reflection.
susumu shingu sculptor
Susumu Shingu, Sculptor
  • ‘Breathing Earth’ - a design concept for an eco-settlement, proposed for somewhere in Scotland and Italy
sites within 1hr travel from gsa on public transport network
Sites (within 1hr travel from GSA on public transport network)
  • Port Glasgow
  • Balloch
  • Wemyss Bay
  • Ardrossan
  • Greenoch
  • Bothwell
  • Lenzie
  • Chatelherault country park
  • Kilearn
  • Strathclyde country park
  • Millport
  • Troon
  • Cumbernauld
  • Dalmarnock
  • Visit site
  • Determine the essential character of site and represent this
  • Critical feedback
  • Design an experience in relation to site and its locale
  • Test
  • Feedback and evaluation
  • Identified (reluctantly) post-industrial ‘wasteland’ site
  • Played with chair on site - noted its movement
  • Acknowledged other users (dogwalkers, young people
  • Tested re-use vernacular in building methods (lorry wheel arch)
  • Built shelters and occupied site in dialgue with other users
Re-evaluated site as ‘useland’ not wasteland and critiqued nearby new-builds (a shift in values)
  • Hypothesized - “what would those Wimpey houses have looked like if those architects had occupied the site in a similar way to us”
chatelherault country park
Chatelherault country park
  • Identified walks/routes
  • Observed nature reclaiming space
  • Subject of time and mapping (knowledge and security) opened up in relation to nature
  • Slowness and getting lost seen as politically relevant, even useful
  • Yet group struggled with time and uncertainty within their own working process - striving for premature conclusions
Managed to incorporate these concerns into their project - embracing playful, non-linear approach and critiquing our own obsessions with time
  • Materially the place was essentially left the same but framed differently by their project (maps, stickers, signs)
  • Identified trolleys and tunnels as symbols of place
  • Perceived lack of community, no human centre
  • Proposed ‘pimp my trolley’ and ‘great Cumbernauld Trolley Race’
  • Inventing a folk traditions through new media & web technology
  • Mundane urban landscapes re-invigorated
evaluation of project
Evaluation of project

‘Sustainability’ as complex and sometimes amorphous ‘catch-all’ phrase developed different meanings and shapes in relation to each project. (without becoming too simplistic or limiting).

It remained abstract and ambiguous in some cases and was even reflected back as a series of further questions. (it’s not just about recycling!)

Ultimately the project actively questioned Shingus ‘design concept’

further benefits
Further benefits:
  • Genuine staff development
  • Developing student ‘research type’ attributes
  • Developed different models of collaboration, teamwork, co-operation, decision-making
  • Some genuinely people-centred approaches
evaluation of project problems
Evaluation of project (problems)
  • Uneven footing of student participantsincluding:
  • different year level participation
  • voluntary/mandatory participation and
  • varied assessment methods (future institutional decisions regarding CAF)
what do we mean by esd what are its implications
What do we mean by ESD, what are its implications?
  • Cross disciplinary (staff and student)
  • Externally engaged (live)
  • Relational
  • Critical (continually redefining sustainability)
  • Inclusive
  • Intuition, play, risk, enjoyment and humour became key factors enabling and characterizing student learning