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Student designs for medieval church are inspired plus

Architecture students from De Montfort University (DMU) had to draw upon all their creative energy when they were set a one-day task of designing a new spire for Leicester’s landmark medieval church, St Mary De Castro.

The 900-year-old church, which overlooks the DMU campus, is currently under scaffolding and the spire is being dismantled after it was found to be in imminent danger of collapse.

So the Leicestershire and Rutland Society of Architects (LRSA), in association with the East Midlands branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), thought it would be a good challenge for students from DMU’s Leicester School of Architecture to come up with ideas of what a new spire could look like.

Although the designs will not be built, the competition aimed to replicate the competitive world they will enter once they have graduated, when architects need to respond quickly to the needs of their clients.

The students started Friday morning with a site visit and were then given six hours to complete their task before judges selected the winners.

The winning design by James Edwards, Douglas Sibley and Sam Harvey.Two winning designs were chosen. The first (right top) was by sixth year students James Edwards, Douglas Sileby and Sam Harvey, which had the ambitious idea of creating a spire that was effectively a giant loom, reflecting Leicester’s textile heritage, with material falling from the spire into the church. The second (right bottom) was by second year students Andrew Evans, Bradley Lowe, Bilal Hashmi, Kieren Blanch and Luke Robinson, which was a more organic design using the Tower of Babel and the White Rose of York as inspiration to create a rose petal-shaped walk around the outside of the spire “towards God”.

It is hoped all of the entries will form an exhibition in St Mary De Castro once the church and surrounding areas have been made safe.

The other winning design by Andrew Evans, Bradley Lowe, Bilal Hasmi, Kieran Blanch and Luke Robinson.Douglas Sileby, who is in his sixth year of a seven year course, said: “I found it to be a very free experience as we were able to come up with really creative ideas in the space of a day. We all entered because we knew it would be a great experience to talk about in interviews.”

Bradley Lowe, a second year student, said: “We are very pleased to have won, really chuffed. I felt the design was ecclesiastical and also linked with the building’s history. I would love to see it become a reality!”

The prizes were awarded by Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby, Archdeacon of Leicester Dr Tim Stratford and Malcolm Goodall, President of the LRSA.

Sir Peter said: “The work by the students has been inspired, no pun intended! It was the perfect project to do. What the students have shown in the designs they have created is astonishing creativity. I hope some of the students, as a result of spending their time studying in Leicester, will want to make their futures here and be inspirational architects for the 21st century.”

Mr Goodall added: “We plan to exhibit these competition entries in the church itself so that the public can comment. We really want to start a debate about the importance of our historical heritage and it is great that this generation from DMU’s School of Architecture is making a contribution to that debate.”

Posted on: Tuesday 25 February 2014

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