Amesbury AAVS Amesbury project site, surrounded by the ongoing development at Kingsgate, Amesbury


Materiality and Place

This VS has been postponed until Spring 2019. Dates TBC.

What role do materials have in creating a sense of place? How might traditional craft techniques inform contemporary art and design? How should the programme of the public garden be redefined within the context of a contemporary rural development? AAVS Amesbury will address these questions through a series of lectures, site visits and material workshops held within the site allocated for the new garden. Participants will develop their own design agenda and material explorations throughout the duration of the course, and contribute to the site’s broader design development.

Amesbury is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in England. It is the nearest town to Stonehenge, and is surrounded by numerous Neolithic sites of international significance. It is also distinguished by extensive new development at Kingsgate, with over two thousand new homes built there within the last ten years. The new buildings are characterised by their traditional appearance and by their use of brick and flint- two common vernacular materials that originate from within the horizon of clay and chalk that extends beneath the site. In contrast, many of the monolithic stones at Stonehenge- that most quintessential of English landmarks- are of Bluestone, which was quarried in South-West Wales. Through guided visits to Stonehenge, The Flint House by Skene Catling de la Peña and the Kingsgate development we will explore the relationship between local and imported building materials, and the aesthetic, economic and political role they play in defining the character of a place.

The new garden is flanked by building sites to the north and south, and is currently being used as a storage area for excavated chalk and topsoil which will be redistributed and used within the new garden. This embryonic site will become our testbed, allowing ample space and materials for practical exploration and playful, speculative experimentation. We will scratch the surface of the ground to reveal chalk beneath, and visit one of the ancient monumental horses cut into the turf on the hillsides of Wiltshire. Workshops will introduce flint knapping and wall-making, brick laying and casting using conventional and unconventional aggregates. Ancient lime mortars will be compared with cement and concrete. The transformation of these materials over time- from hours to months to years- offers both creative opportunities and practical limitations. We will interrogate our test materials, explore their specific aesthetic and technical properties, and consider their wider implications.

The Kingsgate development incorporates a substantial proportion of green public space including several play areas, sports pitches and a country park. Most of the new homes have small gardens of their own. Within this context, what specific characteristics should a new public garden include? What kinds of planting should the garden support? What relationship should this shared garden have with the surrounding private gardens? What kinds of social activities could- or should- the new public garden host? We will visit Blick Mead, an ancient spring within a private garden on Salisbury Plain, where recent excavations have unearthed evidence of large Mesolithic feasts, and the Roman hill fort of Old Sarum, whose motte later contained the cloistered gardens of Salisbury’s first cathedral. We will consider Amesbury’s Experimental Buildings, smallholdings with large gardens built by the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1920s for ex-servicemen and their families. Our observations and discussions will be chaired by an architect and landscape architect, and we will compare these historic case-studies with contemporary examples.

Towards the end of the second week, students will each present their individual proposals for the site for discussion within the group and with invited guests. These ‘paper projects’ could consist of sketches, collages, drawings, maps, material samples and/or text. Finally, AAVS Amesbury will conclude with an informal public exhibition of the group’s work.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

-AAVS Amesbury takes place in parallel with a live project- the development of a site currently used as a storage yard into a new public garden. Students will therefore gain first-hand, practical experience of a professional design project while developing their own individual design responses to the site.

-We will have exclusive access to the 80x30metre site, allowing ample space for our tests and experiments to take place using a range of tools, techniques and materials.

-AAVS Amesbury includes a number of talks and site visits hosted by experts in a range of related fields, allowing students to develop an informed critique in parallel with their practical explorations.


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email for instructions to pay by bank transfer. 

2) Please submit a CV and a PDF sample portfolio of recent work with your application.

The deadline for applications is:  Friday 10th August 2018

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


Kingsgate Garden Site,
Archers Way,
Salisbury SP4 7XX


The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £695 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation. Students need to bring their own laptops, cameras and sketchbooks. They should also provide their own protective clothing and sturdy boots. Other tools and materials will be provided. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.


The workshop is open to current architecture, art and design students, phd candidates and young professionals.


Juliet Haysom trained in Fine Art at The Ruskin School, University of Oxford and The Royal College of Art, London. She was awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship at the British School at Rome in 2004-5 and The Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2007. Her commitment to working on site-specific projects led to her completion of RIBA Part-1 at the AA in 2013. She then worked as an Associate Artist at Muf Architecture Art where she assisted as a designer and directed various community engagement projects. She is currently developing a solo artist's commission built into the site of a 19th Century prison in Bristol, and is Lead Artist for a new park on Unity Street in Bristol. She is a Studio Master on the AA School Foundation Course, and also teaches on the First Year Media Studies Programme. She lives and works in London.


Bloor Homes


Programme Head
Juliet Haysom

Head of Visiting School

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

Links & Downloads

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Visiting School Prospectus


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