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.
Course leader of MA by Project and senior lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies
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
Sarah Jane Wilson, who studied Creative Writing at London Met, will have her debut novel published in 2018.
Denise Lewis, a recent Textile Design BA graduate, has won a competition to design curtain fabric for the anti-poverty and social action centre, Toynbee Hall.
Richard Wilson OBE, aka Victor Meldrew, was awarded an honorary degree by London Metropolitan University at the 2017 Winter Graduation ceremony.
London Met raises awareness of homelessness in London with a Textile Design project.
An evening of celebration was held in order to launch Just Met 2017, an anthology featuring creative writing work from students at the University.
Thursday, 14 December, 3-8pm
The twelfth annual open studios at Calcutta House features exhibition by Fine Art BA and Photography BA students and a pop up exhibition by first year architects.
Students from The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design have started a three-year regeneration collaboration with Belmonte, Italy.
The Cass will be hosting an exhibition of multimedia installations and live performances next week.
Students studying the urban development of cities in the Midlands recently had the opportunity to present their work to the Mayor of Leicester.
A group of Diploma Architecture students are working with the 15th Fulham Scout Group to create a live construction project.
A Jewellery Design graduate is fundraising to help her co-founded organisation, Mother Makers, exhibit at Munich Jewellery Week 2018.
BA Fine Art graduate named as winner of a national award.
Musarc, the architectural choir/research project based at The Cass, has announced details of their 2017 Christmas Concert.
Half of the shortlisted designs in the London Festival of Architecture competition are by practices led by Cass alumni.
Cass Fine art alumna participates in major exhibition exploring role of digital technologies in art.