Three hundred beer bottles hanging outside architecture’s Wilkinson Building are designed to look like molotov cocktails. Stuffed with scraps of newspaper, the bottles contain messages written by staff and students opposing recent changes to the architecture degree. Students have been particularly vocal about changes to studio, the main creative design unit, which has had contact hours drastically cut. Furthermore, assurances made at the end of last year by faculty executives that major changes to the degree would not be made without consultation have allegedly been neglected.
Organiser of ‘Design, Construct, Protest’ and third year architecture student, Michael Baker, explains the significance of the installation, whose various elements occupy the area at the entrance to the Wilkinson Building: “It gives the general public something physical to react to and is interesting and engaging”. The protest also included a soap box and a temporary bar.
Michael believes that it is natural that architecture students would take a different approach to the concept of protest: “It’s not your typical strike. That’s not really relevant anymore. We’re no longer students, we’re consumers.” Clandestinely building an architecture installation is a “fundamentally constructive act”, says the group’s manifesto. “Lots of effective movements are about claiming ownership of a space,” says Michael, citing the Occupy movement as a particular inspiration. The manifesto also cheerily includes the statement “we believe that manifestos are a good way to get people’s attention”. While there’s been no official faculty response as of yet, it seems like this protest might be too.