Interior Architecture students’ winning proposal celebrated in France

From the UCA newsdesk….

A proposal by Architecture students from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) to reimagine a former school building in Lens, France has been declared as the winner of an INTERREG ReCreate competition and celebrated with a launch event in Lens.

BA (Hons) Interior Architecture & Design students from UCA Farnham Veema Chellen and Charlotte Saben’s idea proposed a business start-up and exhibition space, which would act as a creative hub and support the area as a place of local art and design production. It would enable local artists, designers and students to create and display their work to members of the public.

“We focused on the design of the central exhibition space,” explained Charlotte. “It reflected the area of Lens’ past means of production – coal mining – as well as supporting new means of production, the art itself. The focal point of the space was the ‘black out’ pavilion, an enclosure where digital work could be projected and viewed by visitors.”

The inauguration event in Lens

The inauguration event in Lens

The proposal also included a Fab Lab – a digital fabrication space, which would provide access to a variety of digital fabrication processes.

Designers behind the winning idea

Veema and Charlotte

Charlotte and Veema were invited to the launch event in Lens, which was a grand lunch attended by community representatives, regional politicians, economists and entrepreneurs. Charlotte and Veema’s work was displayed around the venue and they were also interviewed by journalists from India, China and Korea.

“It was great to be a part of the launch party,” continued Charlotte. “We were able to hear ideas about the progression and changes of the project and how it fitted into the larger ReCreate initiative.”

The competition was part of the wider INTERREG ReCreate project, a collaborative initiative to support economic regeneration and job creation across the north of France and the south of England.

“This project was particularly enjoyable as we were able to face some of the challenges of working to a live brief,” said Charlotte. “Visiting Lens was a good experience – we were able learn about the area, its history and its culture.”

After graduating later this year, Charlotte hopes to work in the realms of sustainable design. For more information on the ReCreate project, please visit

The ReCreate initiative is selected under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Image from the winning designThe fabrication lab as part of the winning idea

Charlotte and Veema’s designs


A contemporary reading room

Inspired by Margate’s Georgian reading rooms and as part of an overall debate on the role of interior architecture on urban renewal, students on the Interior Architecture and Design (BA) Hons course worked with lecturers to design a modular reading room for the modern day.

Traditionally, reading rooms were a cross between a library, a museum of curiosities, and a place for games and gossip so students built into the reading room their own modules, places for reading, writing, playing games and chatting.

Initially installed at the old Pettman’s Depository, Resort Studios, Margate in November 2013 to host a week-long series of events and talks. During the summer of 2014, the Reading Room continued its legacy travelling to the Folkestone Triennial where it was housed at the Visitor Centre acting as a place for public forums as well as an information point for festival visitors. For more images go here.

A new CREA-Zone publication: breaking regional boundaries in the pursuit of innovation

Watch out for a digital publication that shows off the activities of the CREA-Zone partners, an  externally-funded cluster  from across the UK, Belgium, France and Netherlands. The cluster aims to bring partners together to promote knowledge exchange and collaborative opportunities.

The publication will be launched at the CREA-Zone event on 5th and 6th November 2014 in the Budafabriek, in Kortrijk, Belgium.

CREA-Zone capitalizes on three previous Interreg projects – VIVID, Crysalis and Villa Cross Media – which were implemented by partners and have contributed to the development of opportunities for entrepreneurs and therefore fostered the development of local areas.

The CREA-Zone publication promotes best practices by showcasing a series of case studies which demonstrate how collaborative and open approaches can be a powerful way of bringing together creative and traditional industries, local governments and members of the public, to co-create innovative concepts, products and services.

The publication encompasses themes such as ‘changing needs required new concepts’, ‘supporting the creative sector’, ‘organising and connecting people and spaces’ and ‘ the power of co-creation’. UCA contributes several examples to the publication, such as:

  • Crysalis Knowledge Transfer Activity – Gail Baxter – Years of tradition embrace new concepts

Gail Baxter is a research student at UCA and a contemporary lace practitioner. She was been working with the Cité Internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode (CIDM) and Prud’homme, which is the lace manufacturers’ legal copyright registry, as part of a team tasked with creating a new lace design for one of their historic lace looms. The outcome, a new lace, is modern and innovative in design and style, affording a distinct departure from the tradition floral motifs so often used in lace design. More information here.

  • Crysalis Digital Encounters – Neil Bottle – Travelogue Collage
 two-seater sofa and wall hanging installation

Neil Bottle is a designer with over 25 years’ experience in the fashion textiles industry. His work is held in collections around the world. In the Travelogue Sofa project, Neil has explored the relationships between traditional and contemporary textile print methodologies. Digital print is often associated with mass production; however in this project the limitations of digital design software are pushed to new boundaries with multiple layer applications creating engineered pattern shapes for one piece of furniture. The result is a unique object, which has been designed around the 3D furniture form, encompassing both traditional crafted upholstery technique whilst developing a new level of expertise in the digital textiles design process. More information here.

  • Edge creative expertise and technical services

Universities support graduates in an early stage of their careers by connecting them to the intellectual and physical resources they need for developing their professional practice. Edge provide graduates, freelancers, organisations and businesses access to advanced technology, creative method and a wealth of industry experience. There is a broad variety of specialist equipment to choose from, including; digital textile printing and Gerber pattern cutting for fashion; 3D scanning and 3D printing for innovating and testing concepts in many sectors; laser cutting which helps product developers to be even more creative and, at the same time, more precise and cost effective; thermal efficiency equipment which makes it easier for architects to determine how energy efficient a building is; bronze foundry and glass hot shop support artists to explore new designs concepts. More information at

  • Edge Talents

UCA’s online open innovation platform enables students and industry to co-develop innovation assets via an innovation workflow model. It facilitates engagement and creates collaboration opportunities via the showcasing of students’ skills, creative concepts and early stage designs. At the heart of this programme is a way of working that enriches the student journey and adds value to business. It also allows a greater understanding of factors that enable an increased adoption of university IP by industry and fosters student awareness of commercial needs and this creates innovation outcomes for academics and students alike. More information at

Further information: Susiane Sampaio at

UCA produce multi-disciplinary artwork in collaboration with the Royal Opera House on Verdi’s Requiem


UCA staff, alumni and students’ hard work and creativity were showcased at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park in Thurrock in early July as a part of an ongoing project to explore new territories for the meeting of sound, sculpture and light.  This project, as with many other student projects taking place across UCA, was made possible by support through Interreg funding.  The work produced was also showcased at the FUSED Festival, a three-day festival of concerts, workshops and exhibitions run by the Royal Opera House.

Using Verdi’s Requiem as the starting point, students from two courses at Rochester and Canterbury campuses investigated ways in which the piece could come alive visually using light and sculpture whilst still maintaining an integral relationship to the sound.

The animation course in Rochester visited a November performance of the Requiem and  using motion sensors attached to the conductor’s body, captured the movements over the 90 minute performance.  Through a series of technical processes, the data was transformed into seven pieces of sculpture.  Phil, Course Leader on the CG Arts and Animation course called upon the skills and talents of his existing students, alumni and colleagues to conceive of and develop the project.  Jonathan Simms (Lecturer in Photography at UCA) described this as a ‘community of learning’.

Although many hands and minds came together to bring this work to fruition, there were two key individuals who played significant roles in the development and actualisation of the work.  Ethan Shilling provided a high level of technical know-how and research to take the original data from the conductor and transform these into digital curves, which became the building blocks for other students to develop ideas from, and Tim Hall, a UCA alumni, who now successfully runs his own business, willingly took on the project and single-handedly fabricated all seven sculptures from sheet metal.

The sculptures were exhibited in the Walled Garden at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park in Purfleet, during two festival performances of the Verdi’s Requiem on 3rd and 4th July, conducted by the celebrated Arie van Beek with Thurrock Community Chorus and Brighton Festival Chorus joining forces with Orchestre de Picardie and Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.

Over at the Canterbury campus, Hugh Harwood, Course Leader Graphic Design: Visual Communication and sessional staff member Hala Georges embedded the project into their Level 1 programme and involved almost 40 students in the production of visual and typographic responses to the Requiem.  These unique and individual responses were digitally stitched together and came together as little moments that illuminated the large outer wall at the Backstage Centre from where the performance had just taken place.  Hala Georges, a UCA sessional staff member working with Hugh said “We were thinking about whether the projection would work on the concrete or the grey wall. We tested it on various surfaces, and seeing it now, it’s very satisfying.”

Richard Brittain, Head of Thurrock Music Services, remarked about the projections; “They are creating a very evocative mood. A great deal of creative thinking has gone into the designs and as the darkness is falling in, they are peering through the light.”

The project enabled some artists to step back from their normal practice to focus on a new direction. Jordan Buckner, a graduate teaching assistant at UCA and CG Arts Alumni said, “I worked on generating ideas for the sculptures in the early phase of the project. Through it, I’ve managed to break away from doing the same thing that I might normally do. It’s allowed me a lot of artistic freedom during the design process. I think my new works will be influenced by this project and allow me to move into new directions, and away from what people might typically expect from a CG Arts graduate”

It also enabled students to learn more about the process of commissioned art. Jonathan Simms, Senior Lecturer, Photography at UCA, said “The value of these external projects to our students, the work that goes into working with external partners and the work that the students do is incredible. These projects join the dots with the academic world and the professional world of commissioned art.”

Members of the audience were invited to put their own slant on the sculptures and showed their enjoyment of the exhibition through their animated conversation. Audience members described the artwork variously as “Those lampshades that we used to get in the 70s that were pre-packed and you had to put together”, “a horses mane” and “a double doughnut,”

Gabrielle Forster-Still of the Royal Opera House said, “It’s interesting to see how the Requiem can inspire art – I really like that.”

UCA’s involvement with the performance and the festival take place as part of ACT – A Common Territory, a European partnership between 12 different organisations. ACT supports creative and collaborative projects with local and European partners and is co-funded by the ERDF Interreg IVA France (Channel) England programme

To view the Images of sculptures, click here.

UCA is one of eight international partners to share its knowledge and experience within CREA-Zone, an international collaborative cluster launched on 1 March 2014. Results of the collaboration will be shared publicly in November.

The CREA-Zone cluster aims to professionalise and accelerate the economic realisation of creativity and innovation of particular regions or cities through the development of cultural and creative industries and through collaboration opportunities with traditional industries.  

The collaboration brings together partners from several EU-funded programmes:  from  VIVID , Crysalis 2 Seas projects and from CURE (INTERREG IV B.)