Archive for the 'Projects' Category

Berlin + Collage City

I went to Berlin this term as part of an essay we’re doing this year but also because I have wanted to visit Germany for a very long time. Above are some of the sketches from the trip.

The essay is to be written about the city but in reference to an architectural text of our choosing. We were given an extensive list but the clear choice for me was Collage City by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter. It discusses the importance of a layering of different systems in a city, of different ideas and masterplans. The dream of a utopian city or even a modern city is not necessarily a positive one. Cities are constantly evolving and additive processes and nowhere is this clearer than in Berlin, a city of conflicting beliefs and colliding ideas. It has grown and adapted, not only over the last 100 years but since its conception and the essay will hope to focus both on the architectural impact of this but also on the citizens of Berlin and how they have reacted and caused these changes.



As part of a new project I am looking at building through modules, neutral units of building. As a result I have chosen a site that can be split into a 3 by 4 grid and have been experimenting with the variations possible within that system. Here are 313 unique variations on the grid and this experimentation will form the basis of the eventual form of the building.

3rd Year Introduction

Our new year has bought a new and wider perspective on the world of architecture. Instead of focusing on individual buildings and small plots of land with ideals of wider impacts we are instead working on adapting the urban fabric itself. With this comes a wider set of parameters and in many ways allows us to break free from the constraints of modern technology, site limitations and, for many I imagine, any grasp on reality as imagination takes the better of them and they drift into the impossible.

At the beginning of the year we were asked to choose our “atelier”, the idea being that the year will be given a general brief with everyone producing the same output but with smaller groups being subscribed a certain focus both in outcomes and in site. I am in an atelier called “work/space/place” with a focus on the changing work practices and concequent urban futures brought about by changes in technology. I’ve been interested in the field generally since I read Mitchell’s City of Bits last year and was also intrigued by the area we would be concentrating on, Salford. Many will know about recent developments in Manchester’s ancient and extremely close rival and, with the arrival of MediaCity and the move of BBC North into Salford Quays it’s an every changing landscape that is changing at an incredibly rapid rate.

Both my parents work or have worked in media and for the BBC for much of their careers so, with the advent of the BBC’s arrival I wanted to observe how the integration into this new territory was being handled. Also, my mother was part of the process of moving, working in an area called “change management” for the BBC for a number of years so I had a personal interest in that area of Salford especially. It’s been a strange experience exploring Salford over this last week as I’ve been so close to it and yet never even crossed the river before. It’s also important to note the prejudice that I experience whenever I tell people where I’ve been: there is a perspective from many students that Salford is a criminal sanctuary where you will be mugged, if not immediately then definitely before you leave.

I will go into more details as to our initial findings in a future post but first I need to explain the format of these entries from now on. This will serve as a diary of what I have been working on in the last week, the readings that have particularly caught my interest and the ideas that are flying about in the group. Not everything will be noted, this won’t be my sketch pad but it will highlight the direction we’re going towards and the areas we’ve investigated.

So, with a view toward regular, twice weekly posts I will leave this brief introduction to the year with a short video, produced in an hour by Lee Goddard, Shahrol Sahlin and myself, exploring the ideas expressed in Code/Space: Software + Everyday Life by Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge. We set out with the intention of finding local spaces that were progressively more reliant on code to function: Augmented space (like a coffee shop) will offer a gateway to servers across the world and limitless imformation and data but, when wifi is disabled, will still perform its main function of serving coffee. Coded space (like a modern library) will utilise code to speed up or remove human interaction from processes with an eye on improving customer satisfaction and ease of function as a place to retrieve information. However, if the eletronic swiping systems fail there are still methods of stamping books out, checking peoples I.D. Cards manually and finding books without the aid of software. The third example is code/space (like a betting shop): without software to calculate economically viable betting odds and a central system to keep all shops in the network updated the space would simply become a place to watch horse racing. All be it with a ready supply of incredibly small pencils.


2nd Year

2nd Year is now over, taking the summer off and will hopefully be back midway through August. Here is the sum of my work this year, enjoy.

1st Term Design Report

1st Term Portfolio

2nd Term Design Report

2nd Term Portfolio

Sustainable Studies

I spent this morning in an exam for my Urban Sustainability course that’s been chugging along in the background this term. It comes under the lecture branch in our course called “Humanities” which is effectively the catch-all for anything that isn’t construction or design. Past iterations of the lecture series have covered Manchester’s history, academic theories on observation and some talk of the value of senses in architecture. This term the subject has been on sustainable development and its various forms in planning, construction, building use and design and it’s been a very interesting set of lectures. It’s also been given extra depth through the inclusion of guest lecturers, most of which have been published and their articles placed on the reading list. Over all it’s been great to have an area of study that’s focused on academic problems and the theory of a subject rather than the continual grind of deadlines and work over thought.

My problem comes when considering it’s placement in our time studying architecture. We have had assignments set around designing environmentally sound buildings since first year and we’ve been encouraged to sling PVs on roofs and bioswales around our buildings with only a vague theoretical knowledge of what we’re trying to accomplish. This lecture series has made it clear that not only is there environmental protection to ensure but also social equity and economic growth to encourage. To say “build a carbon-neutral sports centre” speaks only of a close-minded approach to how we should be tackling the problem of sustainability and I think it’s wrong to teach someone how a photovoltaic works before making the point that our development as a culture does not revolve solely around sustainable energies but rather around a holistic approach, creating societies that are responcible but also designed to prescibe better social practices. Enabling more prudent environmental behaviour in people is about more than ensuring that their bulbs are low-energy but rather about making more cycle sheds, creating a more diverse built environment and thinking of a city in terms of how sustainable the transport system, not what the most interesting buildings are.

I just feel that to learn about how something works from a technical level before understanding the whole picture is gung-ho and irresponsible as we, as architects, are extremely culpable for society’s behaviour. This is not just a science, it’s about understanding people and how our futures could evolve.

(below are some readings from the course which I found particularly interesting)

Sustainable Urban Forms – Jabareen 2006

Experts and their approaches – Brand 2007

Hasselt – a Case Study – Brand 2008


Good design Is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself. // Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it. // Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful. // Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory. // Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression. // Is honest – It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept. // Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society. // Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer. // Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product. // Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

good designers should watch the 2009 documentary, Objectified.

Arrange and Conquer

Over the last couple of hours I’ve been looking at what I call “arrangement diagrams” but the wider architectural community most probably have a more educated and informed name for. But that’s what I’m using them for so why not create your own name, there’s no point wasting time trying to sound more educated than you are and no time for anything really as deadlines draw closer. I’m going to keep this one short and sweet and to the point.

These diagrams are used to split your building into its individual elements, most commonly to examine the structural elements but also to create a stylised plan view which easily allows the user to group and associate different areas of the building. One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is by the Bjarke Ingels Group (predictably) with their extraordinary breakdown of their “8-Building” but below are some other fantastic examples. It also allows you to visually demonstrate the themes in your building (above you can see I’ve tried to show the light difference in each of the rooms on the right and give some hint of the material quality in the left-hand example) or really show people exactly how clever the skin of your building really is (below). There you are, an effective and beautiful method for showing your work, which is all architectural presentation really aspires to be.

%d bloggers like this: