Milly’s MArch Blog

  • January 2023
JDA website blog post term 1 2022 Revision C 1024x697


Hello, welcome to the first instalment of the new JDA blog feature, Milly’s MArch.

I’m Milly, previously a part 1 Architectural Assistant at JDA and now embarking on the next part of my architectural education (MArch / Part 2) at the University of Cambridge. Firstly, I would like to say an enormous thank you to JDA who have been incredibly generous in sponsoring me whilst I’m away at uni. With their support, I will be able to use new technology throughout my Masters and intend on keeping you all updated along the way. Each term, I’ll be using this blog to provide a little insight into my life and studies at Cambridge, before re-joining the company as their part 2 Architectural Assistant in 2024.

During this first term, we have been encouraged to develop our ideas for our thesis projects, leaving this completely up to our own personal interests. Mine revolves around mental wellbeing, the way in which architectural design can improve it, and our sensory reactions to spatial environments. In our first year, we will predominantly focus on research-led design propositions working towards understanding our chosen topics.

Already, we have curated a self-led exhibition of our initial work. In my case, I have taken an interest in the relationship between rural and city living, and the way in which our wellbeing is affected by both forms. In this exhibition, we were challenged to represent three different architectural manifestos, to later define one route for the rest of our academic year ahead.

In 2021, it was announced by the office of national statistics that 1 in 5 of us suffer from depression and the UK is understood to be experiencing a ‘mental health crisis’. With this work, I hope to explore the relationship between our minds and our environments. City dwellers are 40% more likely to experience low mood, anxiety and/or depression. Which begs the question of why? And what can architectural design do to combat this?

In this term’s image (above) I have experimented with new, up & coming AI imaging software in a loose, experimental format to begin to visualise the following conceptual manifestos.

The first being; Bringing Man to Nature.
Is the problem of poor mental health in cities the city dweller’s financial inability to remove oneself from their urban environment? When we reach mental burnout at work, we often seek periods of vacation (derived from ‘nothingness’) as a form of mental revival.

The second; Bringing Nature to Man.
City dwellers immersed in buildings designed with Biophilia at heart experience 20% higher productivity and generally have a better relationship with their working life. Can we implement this at a larger scale? What if we were to reintroduce qualities of the ‘rural’ life back into our cities? Why must the boundaries between urban and rural be so definitive?

And lastly; Don’t Fix Me, Fix Society.
This manifesto sees society and its constructs as the given agent, proposing that the problem of mental health does not lie with the people experiencing hardship, but instead is derived from the world that has been orchestrated for us to live in. As inspired by the research of Camphill communities, by Nils Christie, I was drawn to explore the concept of almost ‘anti society’. A collective that has formed its own community, one without finances, without a 9-5 and without external pressures. What if we could ‘opt out’ of capitalism, and what would our homes and settlements look like if these communities were to take off in Britain?