Fulton Trotter Architects Goes Vertical!

This semester Director, Paul Trotter was one of the three studio leaders for the Masters of Architecture, final year design at QUT.

Paul set his students a challenging project in the form of a new Vertical High School in the CBD of Durban South Africa!

So, where did this idea emerge?

Paul has had a fascination with all things design and sub-tropical that culminated in 2016 with his tour of the southern hemisphere sub-tropics, where he visited universities and architectural practices based in Durban South Africa as well as Florianopolis Brazil.

This trip forged some great relationships with not only our own QUT but also the Durban University of Technology and the Escasio University in Floripa.

His strong interest in education has developed not only from designing and master planning for schools but also through his leadership of PALs (training for prospective architectural registrants) at the Australian Institute of Architecture and his large involvement with QUT.

The design studio was a tremendous success culminating in the production of some wonderful designs by 36 students at QUT.

Highlights of the studio included:

  • A start up South African barbeque at our offices to kick the studio off with a bang!
  • A visit and talk by Dr Grant Watson formal CEO of the ISQ BGA who confounded the students with concepts like educational need and minimal viable project!
  • A walking tour of Spring Hill to see Principal Gerry Crooks at St James College and our new Science and Library building as well as a tour of M3s Brisbane Grammar School by Michael Lavery.
  • The students then had to work hard to develop their own educational brief for the project, select their site, produce a schedule of accommodation and produce a meaningful report in week 5.
  • After the mid semester break three of the Trotter brothers regaled the students with tales of creativity and adventure in architecture and sculpture showing their most creative responses to particular design problems.
  • As the studio progressed we invited guest speakers Shawn Brosnan from Formiga1 and Dan Turner from RMA structural engineers to explain the importance of safe design and the need for structural design in such large buildings.
  • Towards the end of the studio we ran a successful ‘speed dating’ afternoon where students presented their scheme to each other in 10 minutes flat and received on the spot feedback from their peers. This was a real hit with students!
  • Lastly the students presented their draft proposals in an all-day marathon session to gain constructive feedback from both Brent Ford and Paul Trotter but also guest panellists including Wendy Hay and Josh Spillane.
  • This culminated with their 11:59pm submission on Friday 15th June and the subsequent marking and moderation by Paul and Brent.

A big congratulations to all the students who participated in the studio and for their enthusiasm throughout the semester. It is great to see our future profession in such talented hands! A big thank you to Yasu Santo and Paul Sanders from QUT for the opportunity to participate in the world of academia!

Some student feedback included:

“The site visits at the start of the semester were great. There is no better way to understand architecture than to experience it first hand, and then to line up the architects / teachers to provide feedback was an excellent touch.”

“The continuous involvement of industry professionals is a stroke of genius. Yes it takes away critiquing time, but it does what in my opinion a university of technology in particular should be doing, which is to bring in a dose of reality!”

“I was sceptical about the final presentation being a week before final submission, and to be honest would probably still prefer to have the final presentation on the final submission date… Not a biggy as it does allow the opportunity to add and refine the final submission, but half the fun for me, is the big push to the big preso. The old school way of presenting, getting critiqued, and then having closure on the whole thing.”

“All in all, the brief was very worthy in its complexity and well executed for a Masters degree. A good balance of opportunity to respond to brief parameters and design flair. So thanks heaps for the efforts (despite the births and president commitments!)”