An exhibition by Arts University Bournemouth Master of Architecture students at ArtSway.

What makes a place: is it the inter-relation history, evolution, architecture, people, economy, and movement? The students Lucy Arnold, Michelle Marques, Matthew Samuel, Archag Togramajian, Dale Whitfield and Selda Yildrim, have spent the year analysing the village and responding to what they have found by devising research projects and speculations for the future.

Over the course of this academic year postgraduate Architecture students from Arts University Bournemouth have used ArtSway as a studio, a test-bed, a place of experimentation and a space to explore ideas. They have seen the village of Sway as a prism through which to ask questions. These questions have allowed place to infiltrate ideas, designs, methods or ways of working and this exchange has emerged as a rich dialogue that actively invites influence. But why should ‘place’ matter? What makes a place or situation unique? Why should students of architecture be at all sensitive to these nuances? And is it important for future designers and makers of buildings to develop this sensibility?

One hundred and fifty years ago Sway train station would not have existed nor would Sway Tower, which still holds the record for the tallest non-reinforced concrete structure in the world. Historic research, statistical analysis and performative exercises have unearthed details and elements of village life. The issues that have been raised run from the economics of housing to entertainment, all set within a cross generational context, the positives and negatives emerging from an increasing generational gap.

Students have employed research methods involving both statistical analysis and conceptual or intuitive processes of mapping Sway as a way to understand the area.


What will the Sway of 150 years time be? Is it even possible to imagine how we will live in relation to technology, where innovation will take us, how the polarities that exist now may open or close, the threats of economy, climate and global destabilisation will play out in this locality.

How do you learn about a place? Some research processes involve studying maps, looking at data. Other ways to learn a place are to look for local knowledge, to devise projects or events that allow you to journey into a place, to discover it. Students have used performative methods and forms of realising their research from hosting tea parties to discovering the area whilst running, looking at flora and fauna or setting up situations for discussion with the public.

The on-going projects and designs students have developed at Sway are reflective of this process. Projecting into the future they share both utopian dreams and dystopian visions.

The Exhibition opens on Thursday 14th May from 6pm-8pm at ArtSway, Station Road, Sway SO41 6BA.