Thursday, June 24, 2010

design development

Although this is still work in progress I thought I would post some design development work completed for one of my new projects. The visuals below are snapshots of my massing model. The green indicates planting strategy zones including a series of tiered green roof planting areas. More to come, click images for a closer look....

overview west

overview east

close up of tiered roofing system

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I just finished reading Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams.
The book recounts Pollan's process of designing and constructing a small one room structure on his rural Connecticut property. But please do not get the wrong impression here. This book is by no means a step by step or one of those painful DIY manuals. Pollan's almost poetic writing explores the complex relationship between the language of landscape, architecture and the human spirit.

Although his approach to site selection, design and construction can be applied to any scale of project his book left me with a deeper appreciation for compact spacial design. Enter in.......

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces at the V & A
Using the landscape of the Museum as a test site, the V&A invited nineteen architects to submit proposals for structures that examine notions of refuge and retreat. From these nineteen concept submissions, seven were selected for construction at full-scale.

Small spaces such as these can push the boundaries and possibilities of creative practice. A shift in scale towards smaller, bespoke structures encourages a heightened sensitivity to materials, texture and proportion. A renewed clarity emerges, allowing architects a freedom of expression that often struggles to survive in larger building projects.

Terunobu Fujimori
Tokyo, Japan
Beetle’s House

Much of Terunobu Fujimori’s architecture aims to reconfigure our view of the natural landscape around us. Reaching this ‘floating’ teahouse via a ladder, visitors are rewarded with an elevated view of the surrounding galleries. The charred, blackened timber exterior, with its textured and tactile surface, represents an extreme of materiality. The process of burning the wood also acts to preserve the building material, thus increasing the structure’s lifespan.

Rural Studio
Newbern, Alabama, USA

Rural Studio is an architectural education programme dedicated to building affordable housing for poor rural communities in Western Alabama. This noble, utilitarian and extendible shed is constructed entirely from forest thinnings. ‘Thinning’ is a forest management practice where small, constricted trees are removed from among larger, more ‘viable’ trees. At a market cost of roughly £2 per metric tonne, thinnings provide a plentiful, renewable, affordable – and underutilised – source of construction material.

Helen & Hard Architects
Stavanger, Norway

This climbing structure excavates our half-forgotten memories of childhood play and exploration. Ten ash trees will be cut along the length of their trunks and planted face to face. The resulting two rows will allow visitors to enter the ‘interior space’ of the trees. The branches will be handwoven and then grafted onto the tree stumps to form a delicate canopy that hangs over a soft play-surface.

Rintala Eggertsson Architects
Oslo and Bodø, Norway

Situated by the V&A’s National Art Library, this freestanding wooden tower re-evaluates the concept of the ‘archive’. Its walls are made up of hundreds of shelves, holding thousands of second-hand books. Accessed via a spiral staircase, each floor includes a secluded reading chamber. Positioned to face inwards, the book spines form an exterior façade of monotonous white, whereas the interior view consists of a rich collage of colours and typographic textures.

Sou Fujimoto Architects
Tokyo, Japan
Inside / Outside Tree

This structure creates a space where notions of ‘inside and outside’ and ‘nature and artificiality’ are inverted and convergent; it explores the crucial duality and ‘in-between-ness’ that defines traditional Japanese architecture. The interior surface of the hollow, transparent tree is continuous with the exterior of the cube form that surrounds it. Thus, one can stand outside the cube and inhabit the same space as the tree’s interior, and vice versa.

This project did not get to actualizing stage but would I have loved to see it built.
Sou Fujimoto Architects
Tokyo, Japan
Silent Gardens

Eleven acrylic boxes contain a series of meticulously reproduced plant and flower forms. Despite their formal geometry, the boxes are liberated from any sense of order and stacked with a spirit of spontaneous logic. The imperceptible thresholds between the boxes would allow the structure to resemble an organically grown elevated garden, resulting in a delicate balance between reality and fiction.

for more info check it out 1:1 V&A

Monday, June 14, 2010

beyond the hive

I guess I wasn't the only one thinking about planning for biodiversity.
Thanks to my UK subscribers for sending in the link below.

"The Beyond the Hive competition, run by British Land and the City of London Corporation, sought proposals for an ecologically sustainable and creative insect habitat. The hotels were designed to attract stag beetles, solitary bees, butterflies, spiders, lacewings and ladybirds and will be built at Bunhill Fields, West Smithfield, Postman’s Park, St Dunstan’s in the East and Cleary Garden, all in the City". via

the insect hotel by arup associates

"The shortlisted projects are: the Inset Hotel by Arup Associates; Brookfield Bug Buddies by Brookfield Europe and the Pinnacle team; Bumblebee City Nesters by Fisher Tomlin; Inn Vertebrate by Metalanguage Design; and Beevarian Anstel and Gretel Chalet by German Women in Property. Two “golden beetle” awards will be presented – one to the winner of the public vote and one to the judges’ favourite – during the London Festival of Architecture. Sue Ireland, the corporation’s director of open spaces, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the high standard of design and presentation that went into all the entries. “Ultimately this will enhance the City’s biodiversity, through the provision of well-crafted, sustainable and beautiful insect hotels.” via

bumblebee city nesters by fisher tomlin

beevarian anstel and gretel chalet by german women in property

brookfield bug buddies by brookefield europe and the pinnacle team

vertebrate by metalanguage design

to vote for your favorite project visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

insect hotel planning

Our house is nestled on the edge of a protected 7.1 hectare park here in Victoria BC. Being on the edge of this urban green space affords us a unique opportunity to view a diverse mix of local flora and fauna. The garden is alive with bird and insect activity all year round and I felt fortunate to be immersed in nature so close to downtown. While sitting amongst the buzz of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies I was thinking about how I could achieve this level of biodiversity in the densely populated urban context. I grabbed my sketch book and quickly produced my ecological strategy to enhance and support future insect populations of the world........enter in the Insect hotel? The example below was designed for our local mason bee.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

the architecture of sport

On June 11th the world will converge on South Africa for the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
With that said South Africa has stepped it up in the venue department check it out and........Come on England!

Soccer City stadium in Soweto just outside Johannesburg. Designed as a giant "Melting Pot".
This will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Interior of Soccer City stadium

The Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit

Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth

Nelson Mandela Bay stadium North end veiw of petal like structures.

The Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. Visitors are able to ride a funicular over stadium grounds, apparently not during matches though.

interior view of 105 high arch.

Green Point Stadium Cape Town SA

The building skin adapts to light conditions, offering shade during the day then becoming translucent at night.

Green Point Stadium was designed by GMP Architekten joined by numerous Cape Town practices.

Slick Green Point Interior

images courtesy of via The Guardian