Andalusian architecture inspires DMU student project

Snapping more than 1,800 photographs in six days is telling of just how inspired Barney Miles was during a recent #DMUglobal trip to Andalusia in Spain.


Barney, second from the left, with the rest of his DMU design studio

The jet-setting Architecture MArch student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), who has previously found design inspiration in Amsterdam, Venice, Berlin and Singapore, said: “This was my first time away representing DMU - I embraced it and thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Together with eight other students from his design studio and one of their tutors, the group set out to explore and discover ‘beauty in architecture’ across Cordoba, Seville and Granada.

As well as taking in Spanish culture and visiting a number of historic buildings, Barney’s highlight was the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Alhambra.

The 23-year-old from Manchester said: “The part-castle and part-palace is set high up on a hill and is absolutely gorgeous from its intricate tiles and manicured gardens to the impressive construction and how beautifully it was lit at night.

“You never get to design anything this elaborate nowadays, so it was such a treat to see it up close.”


Barney was also struck by the way history and culture helped shape the region’s architecture, saying: “Much of what we saw was built during a time when Spain was changing from Islamic to Catholic rule and it was really interesting to see how that is reflected in there design.

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“I was very impressed by the fluid connection of the outside to the inside, as well as how much thought was given to natural lighting as a result of not having electricity in those days.

“Sadly, the stunning ornamentation which was a crucial feature back then, has been replaced by minimalism in modern architecture.”


Inspired by the extravagance of the places he visited, Barney will incorporate similar elements in his next course project, which he is focusing on the Indian textiles found on Leicester’s Belgrave Road.

With a particular interest in Indian weddings, he is exploring ways of using mandala and mehndi patterns in his design.

Barney said the trip has also helped strengthen relationships within the design studio: “We’re a tight-knit group anyway, but it’s not often we all get to interact outside of our university environment in this way.

“Since coming back we’ve found new ways to share workloads and it’s given us the confidence to turn to each other for critical advice, which will make our work better.

“Getting other people’s perspectives on your work is so useful, and likewise, we’ve also been able to share some of our knowledge gained on the trip with others who didn’t go.”


Barney’s master’s is being sponsored by Leicester-based rg+p, one of the largest architectural design and quantity surveying practices in the Midlands. He completed a one-year placement with them and has been offered a permanent position once he completes his two-year course.

He said: “Colleagues from rg+p are big fans of DMU having either studied here or worked with graduates from the university, so they encouraged me to come here for my master’s.

“I’m really glad I chose DMU as it’s far more challenging creatively compared to the University of Nottingham which is where I did my undergraduate degree.

“I’m enjoying a different way of working, and DMU has great art and design facilities that we have access to. You really get the chance to push the boundaries and experiment here.”

Posted on Wednesday 1st March 2017

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