Architecture students reimagine vacant shops in Canterbury city centre

Sam Wood

Students from Kent School of Architecture & Planning (KSAP) will take over vacant shops and windows in Canterbury city centre for their public end of year show, Projection, from 25 June to 23 July 2021.

Exhibits in the form of drawings, plans and video will be projected onto the shopfronts, reoccupying the spaces left behind by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some exhibits will be extended through audio, transforming windows into speakers and projecting sound onto the street.

The premise of this year’s show is to provide students with the opportunity to have their work seen by large and diverse audiences beyond the University, and to gain experience engaging with the public. This will also be an opportunity for the School to demonstrate how architectural intervention can help in addressing the current economic situation, to a public that may not normally have contact with contemporary architectural design.

Each exhibit will be a vibrant reinterpretation of the empty spaces through changing imagery, video, models and a view into the reimagined shop interiors. It will also become a vital alternative to the opaque and vinyl boarding used to hide shop interiors.

Beginning at 4pm each evening, the displays will form part of an illuminated trail of students’ hopes and aspirations for a post-pandemic Canterbury and create a journey of discovery moving through the city’s streets from the nearby St Augustine’s Abbey.

A primary theme of the trail is to acknowledge that young people studying now are a part of the socio-economic debate about the future of high streets and city centres after the impact of the pandemic, and how the repurposing of disused and empty spaces is an important part of current debate to which tomorrow’s architects can contribute.

Projection is a celebration of all students’ work, from First Year through to PhD research students, with a particular focus on graduating students from Third and Fifth Year. Many students have used Canterbury city as the site for their fictitious architectural interventions through their project work.

The trail will be officially opened at St Augustine’s Abbey on 25 June by architect Ptolemy Dean OBE, President of the Canterbury Society and Surveyor of the Fabric of Westminster AbbeyThe launch will be streamed live from KSAP’s Instagram feed @kent_arch from 8pm.

Professor Gerald Adler, Head of Kent School of Architecture & Planning, said: ‘This is a really exciting end of year enterprise, and on a much larger scale than ever before. At this critical stage, the trail places architecture and design at the centre of the conversation of the reinvention of urban settings, wherein players such as the School of Architecture and Planning, and our students, demonstrate our value and passion to its future. Canterbury is an ancient city deserving of great consideration for its design as we emerge from lockdown. We believe that the enthusiasm and skill displayed by our students will inspire further discourse on how Canterbury city centre matters to us all.’

The event is a collaborative project between the University of Kent, Whitefriars Canterbury, Clague Architects, Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (ICCI), the local business community, Canterbury BID (Business Improvement District), Canterbury Cathedral and Canterbury City Council.


The display reveals the depth of student work.