Monday, 6 June 2011

Market Bosworth Parish Hall.

After 3 years, we finally managed to get the planning application lodged for the Market Bosworth Parish Hall and were very humbled to see our project featured in the local press last month.

The project simply started off as an enquiry made by one of my clients in 2008, who asked if we'd be interested in attending a committee meeting to offer some ideas and if possible, some indication of build costs for extending the existing facility.

I was delighted with the invitation and accepted gratefully, only to discover the meeting was later that evening. In preparation of sourcing material to discuss at such short notice, David at our office offered to assemble a sketch up visual whilst I prepared a quick sketch plan. Google Maps was our saviour.

The site is in the heart of Market Bosworth, which is an ancient historic village in the East Midlands considered to be the jewel in the crown of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council; the site is in Conservation Area and the two properties adjacent are both listed. The existing facility is a 1930s structure that carries an air of institutional form, and can be easily overlooked when passing by.

Being fully aware of the constraints of location and pre-empting the responses that may be given by the Local Planning Authority, our starting point of design was quite clear - 'Institutional and Robust'.

By 6:30pm, with little time given to 'essential' design input we were all printed and ready go; we hesitated, stood back and looked at the visual. Whilst we knew this form and style seemed to be the 'right direction', it wasn't refined adequately and a wave of great uncertainty loomed followed by panic. We were out of time and wanted to abort and redesign.  Aaahhhhh, we couldn't! So, it was make or break time.

So David and I pressed ahead and presented the scheme and were greeted with a mixed response of 'oh my God!', 'oooh' and 'uummm?'. The general arrangement plan worked, which was sufficient to get our foot in the door on the basis that a more contemporary scheme was to be explored. An energized redesigned ensued.

Following further client meetings, the external treatment of materials was greeted favourably and discussions on internal amendments steered the external elevations being reconfigured.

Whilst the scheme now echoed the client's preferred layout and external appearance, we approached the Local Planning Authority, only to be greeted with 'it's too modern'! 

We were asked to be more sympathetic with the vernacular, and assembled a few options which echoed proportions and materials of the properties next and opposite the hall.

But 'sigh'....still the latest amendments weren't quite hitting the right key notes for the client due to maintenance issues and something of a regress in design. We ensued a different approach that echoed the current hall style of post modernism, and approach that was greeted tentatively by the client committee but as predicted, the Local Planning Authority resisted.

With few avenues left to explore I met the conservation officer and tabled all the options we had explored and requested the officers direction. He explained that an unprovokative looking building would be preferable, which needed to simply blend into the vernacular and carry an institutional form; symmetry was important.

Having glanced through the options, he promptly pointed to our initial vizual and with conviction and excitement 'THIS is what we're seeking!' I was astonished and somewhat relieved; we finally had direction!

This was great news for the committee and all we now had to do, was reconfigure the floor layouts to suit a central entrance location as governed by the symmetrical facade along Park St.

A few internal reconfigurations took place and a design finally welcomed by all parties was delivered.

It's not been the easiest journey to date, however, it's very fulfilling to be part of a project that will continue to serve the local people for the next three or four generation. I guess the moral of this little story for Architects, is to adhere to ones original thoughts and go forth with conviction!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 hour to kill in London

During a trip to London last week I had a spare hour to myself; so I took the opportunity to visit Foster's 'The Gherkin' up close!

It's footprint is surprisingly small and whilst it dominates the skyline, it has a light non-oppressive feel at ground level and somehow, compliments the scale of adjacent low rise buildings.

The main entrance into the building is very subtle by the simple exclusion of perimeter glazing to eight triangular segments; the ground floor envelope is also recessed to create a dramatic external sheltered area behind structure. 

The detail of the form is tremendously elegant; the structure is subtlety evident behind the glazing and yet, the eye is still drawn to the kissing point of the glazing triangle at ground level.

Much to my surprise at the location of the Swiss Re building, I found an old favourite within photoshot....Lloyd's of London by Richard Rogers!

I visited this building for the first time in 1988 after its completion in 1986; it looks great today as it did 22 years ago.

The external stainless steel cladding to the stair cores maintains the building's lustre and the external services and lifts certainly retains dynamism.  

The elements of exposed concrete and ducting are showing subtle signs of weathering, however, for a building that was designed over 30 years ago, it'll still look great for decades to come.

Directly opposite Lloyds however, are the beginning's of 'The Cheese grater', again by Roger's, so hopefully another trip will perhaps be required around 2014. 

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to see the completion of Renzo Piano's 'The Shard' in 2012.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Fradswell to build new Village Hall.

Having presented a scheme to the committee of Fradswell Parish Council in October 2010, we were delighted to hear today that our firm was nominated as preferred Architects based upon design rather cost! We're very pleased that the practice has been awarded this project and we're certain the other three firms made a great effort; the project isn't the largest in the office, but it certainly will be an interesting one.

As a practice we are always striving to be include sustainable ideas, albeit frequently challenged on cost by the client; however, the scheme does include a variety of features that will minimize the running costs for the facility for decades to come.

We have included Underground Water tanks for grey water harvesting, Passive Ventilation Stacks for natural ventilation in lieu of mechanical and we are currently researching the possible use of Air Source Heating.

The building will have enhanced insulation properties specified for improved thermal requirements and Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Water Heating Panels are also offered, but may be challenged by the financial brief. Materials for the building are intended to be sourced locally and where specified, from manufacturers with strong sustainable codes of practice.

The site is within open countryside and our thoughts were to create a facility that echoed an agricultural texture and form. From the lanes or adjacent fields, only the ridge line would be seen above hedgerows and with this mind, the use of profiled metal cladding and ventilation stacks are proposed.
Within the site, the appearance needs to reflect a typical agricultural building, hence the timber cladding and expressed steel frame; however, for durability and potential vandal resistance, low level brickwork has been introduced.

The sustainable elements and interior function influence the composition and scale of the building. Solar shading devices are required along the southern facades and a spectating veranda is provided overlooking the playing fields. The multi use hall capitalizes the large volume where necessary and the lower eaves areas along the northern facade are ideal for storage, toilets and  bicycle stores. 

Attached are a few visuals:

Main Entrance View

South West view
Rear Elevtion
South East view
We would like to thank David Arscott for preparing the visuals and look forward to developing another competition scheme. In the meantime, we're looking forward to working with Fradswell Parish Council and supporting them in delivering a great community building.

Friday, 12 November 2010

About Time

Its only taken me 4 years to ponder about blogging, but thanks to Leigh Adams and Sarah Coleman aka; I'm in!
Not sure where to begin, but hopefully will have plenty to drone about...I think; seems a bit daunting now.
Anyway, I'll dig deep into those grey cells and ponder what to share.
Be back soon......hopefully :0)