Graduates 2024: Jamie Singleton: Architecture BA(Hons)

I loved the aspect of circular economy that the University of Brighton really drove and the problem-solving attached with it. It presented a real challenge that I loved working to solve.

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

Throughout my time here at Brighton the emphasis on designing with sustainability has been so incredibly strong, so in this semester I really wanted to take it to a new level. Tutors such as Duncan Baker-Brown, Glenn Longden-Thurgood, Tony Roberts and Ian Bailey have really pushed me to explore the relationships between locations and longevity as a means to create a hyperlocal, vernacular project. This semester I have explored the concept of ‘rearranging landscape’ – the idea of using onsite (or local materials) that harvested in more traditional formats and adapting them in a contemporary, yet approachable format.  

Our assigned project was a cricket pavilion for Sidley cricket club over in Bexhill. Alongside serving as a clubhouse we had to add an additional programme to the building to ensure its programmatic longevity within the community. My space will serve as a pub/ craft space alongside a cricket pavilion, so outside of the cricket season the large, long barns will open into a mass craft space, and then in season it hosts the changing room within these spaces alongside spaces for smaller craft activities.

I examined the local materials available to the site, then studied the traditional ways of processing/ applying them within construction. In this project I designed a set of barn-like structures that were made from a composite of available hardwood timbers (primarily sweet chestnut and oak). I did this as traditional timber post and beam construction relies on long lengths of timber to achieve a frame, however due to the scarcity of these timbers the possibility of achieving these lengths at a low cost is difficult. So, in order to do this I studied the available hardwood timber that is listed by DEFRA (Department of Food & Rural Affairs) to see what felling licenses had been issued and whether they were for coppicing, clear felling or forest thinning, and then I calculated the amount of timber, the rough age and its available yield. This left me with a set of parts that I could use to design my building.

I’m really interested with the historic role of the architect, in the sense of how they were carpenters, stone masons and thatchers. I spoke with Duncan and Glenn about the application of these materials within my building. Using simple joins and dowels I have designed this building to be able to be built, and maintained, by the ‘unskilled’ and then to have parts replaced in years to come by regrowing parts of my building onsite, to prepare for the repair in a couple of hundred years’ time. Contemporary architecture and it’s emphasis on permanence and it’s perfection, is detached from the concept of decay and the reality of the passing of time: it tends to not allow for wear or use, instead relying on the idea of replacement of standardised parts rather than repair. To progress to a future that is truly circular, I can’t help but see that true building using onsite materials in an approachable manner to be the key to a hyperlocal future.  

What made you choose your course?

Growing up the son of an estimator and the grandson of a carpenter, I never really felt either field was quite for me: I wanted to study something technical yet hands on and interactive. I went to study architecture and interiors at Chichester College where I completed simple design projects to a brief. Then progressing this to University, I loved the aspect of circular economy that the University of Brighton really drove and the problem solving attached with it. It presented a real challenge that I loved working to solve.

Can you tell us about your favourite part of your studies and how it helped the development of you and your practice.

The aspect of material relationships and construction is something that I’m so passionate about. I love studying the local vernacular to a site and how I can translate this into architecture. Alongside this, I have found that I have a real passion for model making and I love applying my interest in materials into these parts. Making large scale technical models of details and framing, to small delicate site models to show the local stakeholders, the process is a therapy and the outcome is always so rewarding. It’s helped me develop and communicate my projects to my peers and tutors as it allows them to interact with parts of my building in an interactive way.

Can you tell us about any staff who particularly inspired you?

All the staff here within Mithras House have all helped me greatly in my studies, however I must really say that all the tutorials I have had with Glenn have left me feeling excited and prepared to tackle the next aspect of my project. Tony Roberts for pushing me to speak to Duncan Baker-Brown and his work and research into the forward moving technologies of the circular economy and their impact on the architecture pedagogy, has also really inspired me to pursue my interests and what I believe in to help progress to a sustainable future. I also want to highlight our technical team and their in-depth understanding and vast knowledge on everything from model making advice to helping solve technical detailing and actual construction technologies to the presentation of work and layouts.

What does Brighton mean to you now?

I’ve always grown up in Sussex, however I very much appreciate Brighton differently now to when I was younger. Aspects of the city such as it hosting the last Elm collection of the country and the amazing green spaces such as Hove Park, and Stanmer Park really allow for an opportunity to experience the city form a distance. Whilst Brighton has been great, I do feel as if I’m ready to leave a cityscape.

Can you tell us your plans after graduation?

I was lucky to be awarded one of the Sussex Heritage Trusts bursaries to complete a five day long classical oak timber framing course at the Weald and Downland. Beyond that I’m unsure of what is to come. Practices such as Assemble, and Studio Bark are completing projects of the scale/ type that I’d love to be involved in, but I can’t really see myself completing large scale office fit outs and carparks etc. That corporate world is something that I feel is in a way detached from reality and isn’t hands on enough for me.

What advice would you give yourself when you were 17?

If I had to give advice to 17 year old me, I would say to just get involved in every aspect of university. Utilise the facilities, the staff and the space and you will love every moment of it.




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