Image credit: Channon King
Cass Projects was founded in 2004 as ASD Projects and is now a School-based unit directed by Anne Markey. Its success has evolved through the development of an approach, a methodology and range of outputs that together frame a research project in its own right.
Cass Projects has made a significant contribution to the live projects dimension of the School’s research profile. It has established a specific approach to the collaboration between pedagogy and research, and the professional aspect of practice. Its portfolio engages with complex issues relating to health, education, sustainability and culture.
Cass Projects is a RIBA-registered practice. Inspired by the Architecture Research Unit (ARU) led by Professors Florian Beigel and Philip Christou (the first such embedded architecture practice at the University) and some of the working methods of Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources under Professor Maurice Mitchell, it has a particular remit. In order to foster collaborative and participatory projects, it is positioned between the European professor-led research studio and the American model of Design-Build.
Cass Projects does not run a single design studio or specialist MA programme, nor is it a conventional architecture office: it has developed a way of doing live projects, that is, in real time with actual players producing concrete results in a professional framework whilst fully engaging the creative potential of teaching and research. Cass Projects both initiates live projects and responds to demand, whether from individuals or groups within the School or from external bodies, clients or user groups.
Writing the brief
What brings the three parts of the Cass Projects research method together is the process of brief-writing. Anne Markey formulates collaborative briefs that rework the conventional boundaries between expert and non-expert, insider and outsider, thus encouraging a more inclusive playing field and more empowered players. This has a bearing on the way problems, opportunities and initiatives are identified as well as how they are approached and resolved. This approach has similarities to the interactive brief writing techniques developed by Mark Brearley and the student-involving techniques developed in Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources' (ARCSR) work by Maurice Mitchell. It might be described as a model of sustained and embedded impact rather than approaching impact as a resultant.
Markey's approach shares a design-as-research orientation with Architecture Research Unit (ARU) but uses the professional structure of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) practice more explicitly and as an integral part of the method. A direct equivalence can be drawn between the discipline of research and the discipline of being professional in the case of live projects. For example, the discipline of professional status can be used to institute a working environment subject to contracts, ethical practice, performance criteria, health and safety and so forth. It creates the potential to build a critical bridge between pedagogy and practice. The disciplinary apparatus can thus work as equivalent to a conventional research environment, but one geared to embedding research within practice. A professionally enacted research project produces a different outcome to an outcome derived from applied research.
With the National Schools Ideas Project, this approach facilitated a collaboration between a number of Schools of Architecture around a common theme in order to develop a diversity of outcomes. This model of a collaborative brief has also been used to deliver a number of other projects described here such as the International Architecture Student Festival where the “players” have been international Schools of Architecture and local authorities and communities the beneficiaries.
Cass Projects portfolio
This booklet documents the work that Architecture Studio 3 has done to explore the use of a shipping container to provide a shelter for canoeing club ‘The Sharks’ in Hayes.
Projects Coordinator, Cass Projects
Teaching in 3D studio Harvest (Furniture and Product Design) with Peter Marigold and Christopher Emmett.
Cass Culture Research Coordinator
Managing research across the School, working on the development of Cass Culture short courses.
Director of Cass Projects
Anne Markey has over twenty years experience of working as an architect at senior level.
Projects Co-ordinator, Cass Projects
At the Projects Office Jen is working with Architecture, Design and Fine Art studios to curate, instigate and develop community art and architecture projects for the office.
Research Coordinator & Studio 7 Tutor
Bo Tang was awarded her PhD in January 2014, and is the first PhD Architecture student to complete her PhD at The Cass.
Recent news from The Cass
The Cass hosts an immersive exhibition exploring the diversity of Belgian architecture.
A group of graduates from The Cass, who took part in the successful Cass Starters project, will be exhibiting with SCP as part of the London Design Festival.
Artist Jaykoe , an alumnus of MA Fine Art at The Cass has two imminent exhibitions
13 September – 16 December 2017
Cass alumna takes part in new exhibition exploring the relationship between humans and machines.
We take a look at the new facilities opening to students at The Cass as the School completes its move to Calcutta House.
Graphic design studio, Regular Practice, will be collaborating with Cass Visual Communications as research partners.
Cass alumna's start up promises entertainment and stress relief - through wanton destruction
Cass MA by Project student exhibits at international exhibition of ethical metalworkers
Vicky Cowin wins Elle Decoration British Design Award for her exquisite woven wall hangings.
Rosemarie McGoldrick, Head of Fine Art at The Cass, to present artist's talk at The Political Animal event
Long term collaboration between The Cass’s Susanna Edwards and author and filmmaker Iain Sinclair celebrated as part of new exhibition.
Exhibition of student work and street party event at The Cass as part of London Design Festival 2017.
In celebration of its students, alumni, new home and London Design Festival, The Cass plays host to a series of exhibitions and workshops this September.
Open the doors to ‘Other Worlds’ and explore beyond the status quo with The Cass MA Show 2017.
Solo exhibition by Cass Fine Art alumna on memory, nostalgia, myth and narrative.