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MDX Living Pavilion is runner-up for Teaching Excellence at Guardian University Awards

26/11/2020
Practice-based learning project which puts a spotlight on sustainability has involved collaboration with programmes including TV Production, Graphic Design, Design Engineering and Photography so far

The Living Pavilion, a flagship MDX project to promote innovation, practice-based learning and collaboration through a sustainable construction on campus, has been named runner-up in the Teaching Excellence Category at the Guardian University Awards.

“I’m so pleased with the news,” says Architectural Lead and co-ordinator of the Pavilion project, Senior Lecturer in Construction Architecture and BIM Homeira Shayestyeh.

“I’m really happy and thankful for all the people who have been involved: an example of how through collaboration we can achieve much more together”.

“Fantastic news: students, academic and professional services colleagues working together is at the heart of Strategy 2031 and I am delighted to see us ahead of the curve as usual” writes Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Science & Technology, Sean Wellington.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Nic Beech Tweeted that he is "so proud of everyone involved. Practice-led teaching is at the heart of what we do - it prepares our students for the real world. This is a really strong example of that".

Architectural Technology students designed and managed every aspect of the scheme throughout the project lifecycle, in partnership with contractors and the MDX Estates Department. MDX Chief Finance Officer James Kennedy gave his backing and coached students around finance and risk strategies, head of department Professor Mehmet Karamanoglu provided leadership and Zuzana Botkova (Head of Estates Projects) and Kate Fregene (Project Manager - Building and Construction) were involved at all stages.

Alongside Homeira, Senior Lecturer in Construction Architecture and BIM Tong Yang is the Living Pavilion’s Engineering Lead and originally conceived the idea of a construction project on campus in 2016. Homeira and Tong’s vision has been to create a real-world learning experience sitting within students’ Architectural Technology modules and assessments and aligned with the University’s 2017-22 strategy.

Since the Pavilion’s completion in summer 2019, students on a range of other programmes have used the Pavilion as a subject or a setting for their projects, and it has also hosted many different community activities. The structure is designed to be continually adaptable over time so that each generation of students can leave their mark.

Last year, one cohort of Architectural Technology second year students did a post-occupancy survey of MDX staff and community users’ thoughts about the Pavilion, and how they would like to see it improved. Off the back of this, students each designed their vision of a flexible enclosure for the Pavilion to increase usability of the space during the winter months. After the pandemic threw the implementation of this project off course, Homeira has tasked current Year 2 students with the same challenge, and she plans an open exhibition of both cohorts’ designs for the wider MDX and Barnet community to pick a version to go forward with.

Currently, stop motion animation Year 1 and 2 students are using the Pavilion each week as a field workshop and it’s a popular location for Fine Art students to film their coursework. “So far we’ve worked with TV Production, Graphic Design, Design Engineering and Photography” says Homeira, while teacher training courses are a “big fan” of the space. There’s hope of reviving a project which was due to have taken place at Easter with Graphic Design students to publicise the Pavilion. Potential collaborations of all kinds with programmes across all university faculties are welcomed, and encouraged to get in touch with Homeira.

2020 is the eighth year of the Guardian University Awards. Guardian Universities Editor Rachel Hall says: “We received more submissions this year than any other, and all our judges were impressed with the calibre of projects”.

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