Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Architecture by Bike - Lumen Church

Cullinans' Design Management Team - Team 1 - continued their series of "Architecture by Bike" visits with a lunchtime trip to Theis & Khan's Lumen Church and community centre in Bloomsbury on Monday 28th March.
We found the simplicity and clarity of detailing well suited to the calmness and legibility of function that the cleverly planned series of spaces demand. Spaces within spaces have made for a much more valuable community facility than a simple place of worship could have provided. A prayer / meditation "cone" separates the excellent cafe from the chapel whilst a separate atrium route allows the community to use the garden and meeting spaces at the rear, without interrupting services.
Ubiquitous rooflights ensure that daylight is used to good effect in all rooms, whilst a huge, triple-height window onto Tavistock Place ensures that passers by are welcomed in. The busyness of the cafe despite the church's position away from the main thoroughfares of Judd Street and Gray's Inn Road is evidence of the success of the project. Good food too!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Space or water - a lifestyle choice?

Great talk by Francesca Greco here last night on water and its place in our economy. Enjoyed the conversation afterwards with Mark Bradbury about lifestyle and use of water. Where does the obsession with washing all the time come from? Why we were brought up with baths once a week and now are designing 65m2 flats with two bathrooms? Surely some want more space instead of ensuites?

John Hope Gateway in Architecture Today

Article in AT:

"Multi-faceted and multi-functional, the John Hope Gateway is a clever response to its pivotal site in the Royal Botanic Garden, says Mark Swenarton"

Photo: Paul Raftery

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Atelier Van Lieshout at the Bartlett

Functional, irrational, satirical, anarchic, grotesque, erotic, ugly/ beautiful. Political.

Joep Van Lieshout's lecture at the Bartlett last night was a provocative description of his work over the past three decades and the ideas running through it. The work itself exists somewhere between art and architecture and includes public art (Mix & Match), functional living modules (Autocrat), scale models (Shopping Mall of Babel) and farms (Pioneer set). There seems to be something at once intimate and impersonal about it.


All these things reveal a preoccupation with the tensions between development, consumerism, environmental sustainability, collaboration and personal freedom. And as individual works I like their communicative power because this seems commensurate with the relevance of their subject matter. TB.

Roddy Langmuir talking at the Building Centre tonight

Roddy Langmuir will be talking about the Downland Gridshell at the Building Centre at the launch of this year's Wood Awards.

"A gridshell is a structure that gains its strength and stiffness through its double curvature configuration. Its advantages are a minimum use of materials, structural efficiency and the creation of a large volume, as well as the potential for quick and cost effective construction. However, few gridshells have been built due to a lack of knowledge and data. The process of creating the Downland Gridshell, as a specialist museum workshop completed in the spring of 2002, is a case study of successful collaboration and innovation in architecture, engineering and construction led by a multidisciplinary team of practitioners. This gridshell structure was composed of a double layer of mats comprising four layers of thin timber laths. These were harnessed together as a flat mat and then formed into a three-dimensional structure by a carefully orchestrated lowering of each supporting scaffolding prop, thereby harnessing gravity to pull the mat into shape. Many innovations are described in detail: team working, risk sharing, multidisciplinary design, structural modelling, the creation of new structural components, cladding, and construction processes including the sequence and techniques of gridshell forming. Advances made in this project have added to the knowledge of gridshell behaviour, construction and cost, thereby making the design and construction of future timber gridshells a more viable option."- Taken from 'Design and Construction of the Downland Gridshell' (2003) by Richard Harris, John Romer, Oliver Kelly and Stephen Johnson

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Government u-turn on zero carbon homes

“The commitment to Zero Carbon remains in place - there's no ambiguity about that...we can now say that zero carbon homes by 2016 is not just an abstract theoretical goal, but that new homes really will be zero net contributors to C02 in reality too.”
Housing Minister Grant Shapps (Feb 1 2011)

Today's budget saw the self-declared "greenest government ever" scrap their commitment to zero carbon homes. This is yet another sorry erosion in the push for a more sustainable future. The government is striving for economic growth yet this back tracking has dealt a severe blow to one of the countries biggest growth sectors. Mr. Osborne need only look at this year’s ecobuild to see how the innovation of home grown companies has lead to such advances and subsequent growth of this market.

This U-turn was glossed over by the formation of the green investment bank and an a injection of £3 billion into risky green projects. This money is welcome but it is not on a par with the whole scale level of change required to cut our addiction to carbon which 'zero carbon homes' promised.

To find out more see the UK's Green Building Council's excellent blog entry.

Collaborative working in Berlin

Just returned from 'Betahaus' in Berlin; a former office block that has been converted into co-working space for creative professionals. Berliners can pay a standard daily, weekly or annual rate to hire a desk space. For a small top-up fee they have access to a range of additional facilities including a workshop (laser-cutter, 3-d modelling etc.), meeting rooms and a constant supply of coffee from the ground floor cafe. Putting artists, architects, web designers and journalists together in one space makes for a chaotic and creative environment where ideas can easily be shared.....

Friday, 18 March 2011

Gridshell Workshop at Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University held a week long programme of events on the design of shell structures which included lectures from Prof. John Chilton on the work of Heinz Isler, Prof Remo Pedreschi on the work of Eldio Dieste and John Romer from Cullinans on the making of theDownland Gridshell.

With the course leader Gabriel Tang, John worked with the architectural students in design workshops culminating in the construction of a full size gridshell structure in the University's grounds.