Tutors: Richard Difford, Nick Beech, Lindsay Bremner, Davide Deriu, Kate Jordan, Diana Periton, Shahed Saleem, Ro Spankie, and Ben Stringer
The aim of the MArch dissertation is to encourage students to develop their ability to reflect critically, and with a degree of self-consciousness and confidence, on a topic relevant to architecture or urbanism. Each student chooses their own subject but the interests explored emerge out of research that begins almost a year earlier in the first year History &Theory seminar groups. Within these groups the students are guided by tutors well versed in a broad range of interests and research methods, and committed to supporting the individual specialisms and scholarship of each student. A range of topics and a plurality of approaches is therefore encouraged. Ultimately, the ambition is that these dissertations will be distinguished, not by their adherence to any particular methodology, dogma or style, but by their high quality.
This year was no exception and there were many outstanding disser tations produced. Highlights include Guy Sinclair’s analysis of the Met Office headquarters building, Computing Climate. Drawing on the work of theorists including Bruno Latour, the role of the climate scientist and the predictive knowledge generated through computer simulation are critically examined. Equally insightful, Chada Elalami’s The Cosmos in a Mirror uses analysis of the catoptric astrolabe made by Emmanuel Maignan and traced on the vaulted ceiling of Trinita dei Monti convent in Rome to explore the nature of seventeenth-century scientific method.
Also in Italy, Charles Plet’s Materan Conservation looks at the Sassi neighbourhood of Matera with its remarkable cave dwellings carved out of the rock, and considers the significance of this built heritage. Also on the theme of traditional forms of housing, Manuela Manjarrez investigates the timber framed Maya house found in the Yucatán region of Mexico in her dissertation, Trials and Tribulation of the Maya House. For Sian Sliwinska the focus was on her own family heritage and the experience of post-Second World War Polish Refugees. Her study, Home in the Refugee Camp, looks at the community established in Northwick Park Polish Displaced Persons Camp in Gloucestershire.
These engaging and carefully researched dissertations are just the latest in a long line of successes in the history of the University of Westminster’s MArch dissertation.