Can you imagine a place where you live and breathe – Instagram? Samiur Rahman from Greenwich University has proposed just that for his MArch design project – GramLiving. We discuss some of the techniques he used as well as some sources of inspiration behind the incredible illustrations.
1. Where did you study and in which unit (was there a reason you chose this university / unit?)
I studied at the University of Greenwich. I did both my undergraduate and postgraduate there. I had such a great time during my BA, that it was an easy decision to go back. The ‘arts’ based ethos of the architecture school was something which really resonated with me. In addition to this, I was familiar with the tutors and staff there. At Greenwich, briefs are kept quite loose and students are encouraged to explore and research their own interpretation of projects. During my MArch, I was in Unit 18, tutored by Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier both of Flea Folly Architects.
2. Can you tell us a bit about your unit / tutors and their approach to your brief?
I chose Unit 18 as I felt their projects were really original and heavily concept-led. They also tend to do really fantastical and immersive drawings which I am a huge fan of. The brief for my graduating year was ‘Extreme Consumerism’, focusing on the future of consumerism and the capitalist world we live in. For final year students, the brief is simply a guide and students are welcome to explore their own interests. My final year project was a speculation on a future social media obsessed lifestyle which somewhat reflected the unit brief.
3. Was there a moment during your project where something you absolutely hated or created on the spot ended up becoming an integral part of your design?
Whilst this has happened to me before, the final year project took quite a heavily researched and methodical approach. Perhaps this is because you need to develop a coinciding thesis with it. This sort of strategy doesn’t always work, and is quite project specific.
4. Do you think that studying masters is easier or harder as compared to studying undergrad?
I think neither is easier/harder than the other. They both come with their own challenges and boils down to the ambition of the individual as to how difficult the degrees can be. Undergraduate is very much a learning environment, where you learn how to draw, read and think like an architect. The notion of uncertainty is what I found most difficult. With postgraduate, you are much more equipped from a skills point, however you need to be far more creative and sophisticated in your design approach to develop a distinguishable masters project.
5. Were there any prominent references or sources of inspiration for your drawings or the general style?
In terms of representational style, I was always a fan of non-realistic renders. I personally enjoy exploring highly speculative concepts and wanted the drawings to reflect that. For my final year project, I took inspiration from contemporary artists such as Laurie Lipton and Kilian Eng. I’d also looked at films such as ‘Paris Texas’, to try and convey a particular mood in the drawings.
6. Have to ask you the standard question of what programs did you use to create your images? (for BA and MArch)
I mainly used Cinema 4D, Photoshop and Procreate for my 5th year project. For my 3rd year I used Cinema 4D, Illustrator and Photoshop. I learned Cinema 4D in my 2nd year as my tutor at the time was a filmmaker. Whilst it is an incredibly powerful software, it isn’t widely used in architectural practices and therefore would advise students to consider this before investing time in learning to use it.
7. What kind of things did you learn in your year out / part-time work if any that contributed in some way to your project?
One of the main lessons I learned during my year out was how to work efficiently as part of team, and just how independent architectural education is. This involves asking others in your team for help rather than spending ages on google trying to solve issues like you would as a student. A lot of professional knowledge I picked up during my part 1 was really helpful during the ‘design realisation’ (technical) module. I also made a lot of models during my year out, which was really useful during my 4th year.
8. Are there aspects of your project you think you would change or build on?
All my student projects ultimately succumbed to the issue of time and deadlines. I’d always had more drawings/ideas planned or sketched out which never came to fruition, leaving all the projects slightly underdeveloped. However, this is also the nature of the course and discipline, if you have an ambitious scheme it is unlikely you will finish everything you want and therefore becomes critical that you prioritise you time in designs and drawings which best convey your ideas. One of the best lessons that Greenwich tutors teach is that 1 or 2 excellent drawings are better that 9 or 10 mediocre ones.
9. What qualities do you think a project needs to be able to get to a level of getting a first or being recognised by tutors / examining body / RIBA?
I think it’s really hard and slightly counterproductive to try and develop a project to appease standards of the RIBA or other external competitions. Mostly because there really isn’t a framework or particular guideline for these awards. Rather, students should just try to be as rigorous and obsessive over their projects and try to input their own interests and personal flair into the schemes. Often, these projects are really appreciated by tutors etc as originality is very sought after in architectural education.
10. What are you currently doing or are aspiring to work on in the next year or so?
I am currently working as a Part 2 architectural assistant at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in London. Hoping to carry out my part 3 in the near future. I also have a few private tuition students, which I really enjoy teaching and keeps me in touch with the conceptual, speculative nature of student projects. I’m also hoping to start producing some personal drawing/artworks soon. With the current lockdown situation, it’s difficult to find excuses not to.
A huge thank you to Samiur for taking the time out and answering our questions. Be sure to check out his Instagram and his Thesis. We hope these interviews have given you an understanding into celebrated projects. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or let us know on Instagram what you thought.