Construction is complete on a new multi-purpose activity, learning and wellbeing space for the University. Designed and developed from conception to delivery by Architectural Technology students in collaboration with the Estates team and industry professionals, MDX Living Pavilion embodies the learning-by-doing approach which is a pillar of the University's philosophy. The timber structure, with a green roof, flooring made from recycled plastic and sides open to the elements, housed an exhibition during Staff Conference and Graduation, and was a draw for students and their families for Graduation photographs.
The Pavilion plays a number of roles including as a flagship for collaboration between departments, a showcase for sustainability and innovation on campus, an events venue and an outdoor classroom. It has planning permission for the next five years and is designed as an easily-adaptable structure so it can continually evolve. Projects to develop it further and publicise it will be embedded in the curriculum for students on different courses. For example, Film students will make a promotional video and Product Design students will make a sign. The incoming cohort of Architectural Technology students will conduct a post-occupancy survey, examining how the Pavilion is performing and any defects to it, and setting up a timelapse camera to see how people interact with the space.
Yoga classes have been held there in August and next month it will be used for the Teaching & Learning Conference. A MDX film student has booked it to a shoot a short film about space and black holes. Other possible uses include as a space for welcome events, student societies and outdoor films, for community and schools outreach events and as a quiet place for contemplation.
The final parts of the Pavilion structure to be installed at this stage are sustainable ceiling panels, made of Mycelium (fungal thread) and Orb (organic waste) and printed with Saxon and Celtic-inspired symbols in reference to historical settlements in Hendon.
The panels were designed by two second-year Architectural Technology students, who pitched ideas to architects and surveyors and then developed the panels with engineers from sustainable construction business BIOHM, one of 17 partners on the Pavilion.
Since the conception of the project by MDX academics Tong Yang and Homeira Shayesteh in 2017, two cohorts of Architectural Technology students have worked on it. German Didenko, who concentrated on the Pavilion substructure, said of the project: "I learned a lot about teamwork and planning, how to make changes if necessary to bring down the cost, and got insight into the industry". Romuald Beyeck Rifoe, whose design for the look of the Pavilion was selected out of all of his coursemates, said working with architects "teaches you how to pursue what you want to do. But you have to do whatever they advise you to sometimes".
"I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with students, getting them to understand the practical process of what goes into a building" says construction site manager Kevin Milner. "The students are the next generation going into the building industry. From working with me, they've got a head start knowing someone in construction already". Homeira says: "The Pavilion is the result of collaboration and support of many within MDX and beyond. It provides a great opportunity for all to use it. [Head of Design Engineering] Mehmet Karamanoglu’s leadership and James Kennedy’s mentorship were crucial. In particular, our close collaboration with the University’s Estates Office was what made it all possible. Zuzana Botkova and her team gave us enormous support".