School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Matthew Margetts

Lecturer in Architecture

Background

I am currently a director at EDable Architecture and a part time design tutor and stage coordinator. I have taught mostly at post-graduate level for over 10 years and have always balanced this with a career in architectural practice.

 

These two areas of my professional life increasingly overlap and have allowed me to develop a series of academic interests and practice experiences that cover a wide range of topics from Russian Avant-Garde art and urban design to contemporary workplace consultancy. 

 

EDable Architecture is a design studio with offices in Blyth and East London. Work currently focusses on domestic scale projects for private clients and arts / leisure projects. The practice is also interested in designing and making furniture and lighting through PLYable and undertaking bespoke commissions.

 

BACKGROUND

 

I graduated from Newcastle University in 1997, and practiced in London for approximately 10 years, initially working for larger more commercial practices before establishing my own practice with two other Newcastle graduates called IDE-Architecture. Whilst at IDE-Architecture I started teaching a diploma studio at Sheffield University. IDE-Architecture was interested in design in a broad sense and was involved in projects ranging from lighting design and trade stands, through domestic projects to public realm and more civic projects. In 2007 I formed a new architectural practice called +3 Architecture, whilst also teaching part time at Newcastle University. Whilst at +3 Architecture I developed a workplace consultancy team, developing methodologies for joining up thinking between organisational design, workplace culture and property strategies. The practice also developed specialisms in sustainable office design, incubator spaces and civic buildings including the Civic Trust award winning Redcar Leisure and Community Centre. After 8 successful years at +3 Architecture I formed EDable Architecture in 2015 with Claire Margetts (also a Newcastle Alumni) and in two busy years have seen the practice grow to 6 staff and a wide range of projects.

 

Throughout all my time in practice the projects I have been involved in have focussed a belief that the design process should be an enjoyable and inclusive one, that context is continually changing, that architecture should function at a variety of scales and that projects should never be ‘finished’ but instead provide opportunities for others to continue evolving them.

 

I have always enjoyed working as part of a diverse team and have sought to develop tools to help others engage with the design process, whether this be involving clients, end users, other professionals or the wider public. This has resulted in a career long interest in communication techniques, collaboration and engagement strategies and interactive models.

 

I have taught Diploma and Masters level studios at Sheffield and Newcastle University since 2006, and have been the stage coordinator for both undergraduate and post-graduate graduating years at Newcastle University. I have also introduced and jointly run the whole school wide ‘Charrette’ Week for the past 5 years, and am also responsible for the ‘Thinking Through Making Week’ for graduating years in Semester 2.

 

Particular areas of interest include:

 

Post Industrial cities and landscapes

Place branding and identity

Environmental psychology – particularly in relation to play and workplace design

Info-graphics and dynamic diagramming techniques

Interactive contraptions / analogue mechanisms

Public / staff engagement toolkits

Infrastructural systems and legacies

Flexible architecture

Art / material practice and its application to architecture

Teaching

I ran a Diploma Studio in Sheffield for 5 years from 2003/04 until 2008/09, and have taught at Newcastle University since 2005/06, and took over running the Masters Course in 2012 whilst also teaching a Masters design studio. In 2014/15 I then jointly ran vertical studio, split between stage 3 and 6. In 2015/16 I jointly took over the running of the BA graduating year, and in 2016/2017 I am currently coordinating the graduating BA year and running a vertical studio, again split between stage 3 and 6.

 

Design studios have been set in the following locations – Blackpool, Longbridge, Selby, Middlesbrough, Hull, Grimsby, Bridlington, Scarborough, Rotherham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Brentford and Stoke-on-Trent. The tendency has been to focus on a post-industrial city or region undergoing change. Latterly I have developed an interest in ‘Infrastructure’ in both the physical legacies of road / rail / river / canal networks, and the ‘virtual’ manifestations of data networks, organisational and management systems.

Typically, students have been asked to ‘physically’ engage with these large and complex dynamic networks at a human scale, often with an analogue device or Heath Robinson ‘contraption’, and to consider real-world issues with practical applications.

 

Recurring themes are change, scale, identity, place,

 

I have also guest reviewed at Ulster, Northumbria and the CASS.

 

Pedagogy:

 

I have long been interested in peer learning, and have sought through a variety of initiatives to encourage this where possible. These include Charrette week, Thinking Through Making Week, utilising the circulation spaces as a ‘gallery’ for student work, and the introduction of vertical studios for the graduating years. Charrette week and TTMW also involve Alumni of the school – further widening the opportunities for learning from home grown talent.

 

Charrette Week:

 

Charrette week starts off the academic year, bringing a host of architects, artists, engineers, designers and thinkers to the school to run a series of week-long projects. Students from a variety of taught design courses at undergraduate and master levels join together into eleven studios to produce a series of creative responses to a common theme. Last year this involved approximately 670 students, culminating in a ‘show’ at the end of the week.

 

For the past two years we have introduced a series of themes (which we change every year) for the Charrettes to respond to. This gives us further opportunities to compare and contrast the different interpretations.

 

For example, for Charrette Week 2016, we asked tutors to respond to the broad themes of Isolate / Mediate / Animate – and to consider how these concepts might interact to produce events, installations, recordings, films, performances, structures, etc.; to challenge our preconceptions of what these terms mean in relation to architecture, the city and environment.

 

Thinking Through Making Week (TTMW):

 

TTMW has been gradually evolving for a number of years now. Essentially it was conceived as a mirrored week to Charrette week, but starting Semester 2, providing a week of intensive materially engaged workshops. Working with artists, architects and makers, locally and nationally based, students are exposed to practitioners who have a particular material focus, and are encouraged to rethink an aspect of their studio design project through a different material. Initially graduating year students (Stage 3 and 6) were exposed to a wide variety of ‘taster’ sessions; more recently this has focussed on longer series of workshops allowing students to begin to hone a skill. Past TTMW workshops have included: fabric cast concrete, brick making, polystyrene, Kintsugi, print making, film, photography, and dressmaking.

 

The week also provides an opportunity for other tutors with a material research agenda to engage with the students and their design projects.

Research

Practice:

 

As a graduate from Newcastle University in 1997, I have now been practicing for 20 years. In this time have worked on a wide range of projects of differing scales. At one of the spectrum I have an interest in furniture design and have just launched a furniture design company called PLYable Design (www.plyable.co.uk), at the other end I have undertaken masterplanning exercises for a number of sites in the North East. In between I have delivered architectural projects ranging from domestic extensions to civic and leisure buildings.

 

All have been characterised by a collaborative and inclusive design process, centred around people. On domestic projects this means working closely with clients and contractors. On larger projects such as it has involved working as part of a multidisciplinary team with many stakeholders. In order to make the design process collaborative and inclusive the designer or architect must exploit their communication skills. As such much of my work has involved developing communication techniques – from simple rough card models, through complex (and unpredictable!) interactive 3 dimensional diagrams, to a fully-fledged workplace consultancy in my former practice Plus Three Architecture (www.p-plus.co.uk).

 

After 20 years my teaching, research and practice interests seem to be finally converging. A recent project – the Sunderland ‘Launch’ is a good example – as my first ‘infrastructure’ project. Having been inspired by the likes of the Smithsons and Cedric Price as a student I have always been interested in infrastructure in the senses of both the background systems that underpin our lives, their physical legacies and how people interact with them. For the past few years I have taught design studios at undergraduate and post graduate level exploring these themes. Working with artists and engineers who are also involved with teaching we have jointly designed a project, that whilst physically connecting areas of Sunderland together also provides a focus and a framework for the public and other artists to develop events and activities around.  


Linked Research:

 

2014/2015: I jointly ran a linked research module with my former practice Plus 3 Architecture, working closely with Environmental Psychologists from Sunderland University. The resulting document called ‘Slides, Deckchairs and Watercoolers’ explored mapping psychological parameters onto existing workplace scenarios to consider what makes successful ‘interaction spaces’. Students were exposed to real world clients and workplaces, and challenge to develop dynamic mapping tools and engagement strategies.

 

2016 / 2017 : ‘Learning Spaces’ Working closely with my current practice – EDable Architecture and my practice’s interest in furniture (PLYable Design) we progressed some of the ideas developed in ‘Slides, Deckchairs and Watercoolers’, but with a more hand’s on, interventionist, approach. Working again in real world scenarios with Sunderland University’s Environmental Psychology students, our student's developed flexible interactive furniture, and tested them in both learning environments and commercial workplaces.

  

Outputs:

 

A 3rd Exhibit at the Hatton Gallery, 8th May 2016

 

‘My Space is Everywhere’ https://strenae.revues.org/1176