A delegation of final year students of architecture from the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia, under Prof Syed Zubir, visited Ashurst Lodge.

The delegation consisted of ten students, who prepared a report on the development of Southampton and its region of influence, including the New Forest National Park, home of the Wessex Institute. The delegates were welcomed at the Lodge with a BBQ and offered space for working on their report.

They studied the heritage as well as recent development of the region and undertook a series of field trips.

A special visit was arranged to the School of Architecture of the University of Portsmouth, which has recently moved into a new building.  There they were welcomed by Professors Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira and Pam Cole, and Senior Lecturer, Catherine Teeling, who explained how the courses are structured, the type of workshops held and computer tools used, as well as the services available at the School.

Another important visit was to the Southampton City Development Department, where they were welcomed by Ms Kay Brown, who is the Architect responsible for Planning.  She gave an excellent description of the Master Plan for Southampton, launched in 2012, and its main highlights in terms of new offices, shops and residential units.  The plan also contemplates two modern hotels and the renovation of large parts of the City.

Kay referred to the importance of the two Universities for the City, which comprise in total around 40000 students, plus numerous members of staff.  This is a substantial number for Southampton’s total population of a quarter of a million.

Southampton is a coastal City, whose heritage and future is closely related to the sea.  It is along the coastal area where several important developments are taking place, including catering for the increasing growth in cruise liner visitors.

After the presentation, Kay took the delegates on a tour of the City, highlighting some of the current developments and future areas of expansion.

The second week, they attended a meeting in Venice, arranged by Wessex Institute, on the topic of Defence Heritage.  The meeting, which was held in the renowned Arsenale, was attended by participants from many different countries.  The delegates had occasion to listen to many interesting talks (see: http://www.wessex.ac.uk/14-conferences/defence-heritage-2014.html) as well as see the numerous sights of the city.

Following this, the delegates visited Florence, where they could admire its unique architecture and see some of the museums and sites.  From there, they proceeded to Siena where Wessex Institute was holding two important meetings in association with the University.

The first of them was the Sustainable City conference, which attracted a large number of delegates from many countries around the world.  The meeting was inaugurated with a special event in the Aula Magna of the University where Prof Mae-Wan Ho received the 2014 Prigogine Medal for her pioneering work on the structures of living organisms. 

The conferences themselves were held at the Certosa di Pontignano, a Monastery owned by the University and used as a conference centre. (see: http://www.wessex.ac.uk/14-conferences/sustainable-city-2014.html).

The second event at the University of Siena was the Conference on Eco-Architecture, which attracted a series of outstanding presentations. (see: http://www.wessex.ac.uk/14-conferences/eco-architecture-2014.html).

Following those three intensive weeks, the delegates proceeded to visit Rome, from where they flew home to Kuala Lumpur.

The visit was one of the many joint activities that WIT has with the University of Technology Maras.