AH# 004 Working from Home – The Good, the Bad and yes, the ugly…

Working from home – sounds ideal? Sounds like what you have been wishing for since you started your daily commute to work, am I right?

Well, 3 months into working from home and I can honestly say, I’m very happy to go back into work soon… I miss the open dialogue, the human interaction and the general passing of strangers. This is odd, espeically as I would consider myself more of an introvert than an extrovert. I even did the Myers Briggs test to prove it…

However, there has been some amazing work from Architecture firms all over the UK. Ones who have truly stepped up their game to help with the entire pandemic issue.

3D printing PPE, desiging solutions to non-contact exposure, re-evauating how we must now use public spaces, the building of the Nightingale hospitals, even down to helping fellow #workingfromhome buddies and collegues:

Insta Office: A Solution to Your Work-From-Home Conundrum

There are many more flat pack ideas and designed solutions to making the required change to working from home.

Mine was slightly different, I took over the kitchen table, first working just from a laptop, then began harnessing my green thumb… I have never had so many plants which are thriving!

I call her Big Red.

There is tonnes of information around Biophillic design and how it positively impacts the occupants. From office spaces to home life…

#NaturalTrust Trees given by The Mayor of London

So, like everyone, I had more time than ever before on my hands! I kept up my normal routine, woke up at the same time everyday, did my excersies, went for a walk then sat down at my make-shift desk, and began to work. I found this was the key to success for the past 3 months, but then, like a fair few of my colleguges, we hit a lull.

Getting bored of our environments, annoyed at the simplest things, unable to move outdoors without horrific anxiety of how close proximity people are getting to you on the pavement… it all surmounted to a glorious peak, one of which I tackled like a complete child. I locked myself indoors, went to bed, recharged my batteries, ate chocolate, and then, once monday rolled round again, I was slightly more engergised and prepared to cope.

The Good side – I gained so much more time with my partner, homelife was more relaxed, I began to value what I have accomplished in life – such as an amazing view, the thriving garden, my paintings, my career even down to my health, I became more thankful for my friends and family, my neighbours and my colleguges. I became more empathetic to others around me.

Wimbledon Park evening walks

The Bad side – I became slightly bored, got in my head a little too much.. don’t we all? Became restless, took on too much work, needed to learn when to put down the technology and just take time to stop.

The Ugly – Not showering is not an option… learnt that the hard way. Keeping up routine is vital… again, daily hygeine is imperitive. Exercise. Stop. Dear god stop wearing sweat pants or “running” gear if you do not go running! That was another turning point…

FINALLY! To end on a good note… I have started painting and sketching again…

Work in progress…

Radio Silence…

I must apologise, it has been an extrodinarily strange start to the year, wouldn’t you agree?

The reason why there has been Radio silence from the blog, and in general, is because as soon as lockdown happened, work oddly ramped up.

People harnessed living and working from home, becoming more productive, more proactive with their hobbies and additional side projects. All of which I have been encompassed in and working like a mad woman attempting to satisfy the need to make the most out of this strange time. Some may take the opportunity to rest, recoup… Snooze you lose, right?!

You can see my day-day life from the previous blog post – “Working from Home – The Good, the Bad and the ugly”

I am now, slightly burnt out. I need of a holiday, but alas. I have achieived some pretty awesome things… for example.

RIBA REFABRICATE.

The Royal Institute of British Architects have launched a Young Architects Initiative Enterprise challenge, called RIBA REFABRICATE.

” RE-FABRICATE is a collaborative research project calling for architects and designers to craft and innovate new materials and uses from waste produce.”

RIBA REFABRICATE

Essentially, the task or challenge that was set to us, as young and impressionable Architects, designers, etc. was to create a material to be used in the construction industry which could be used and re-used, again and again with no waste. Cradle to Cradle – whole life cycle and part of the circular economy to be intergated into the Construction industry reducing the massive amounts of contruction waste, filling our landfills and contrubuting towards climate change.

Think we are exsaggurating regarding the impact of construction on our climate?

Here are some pretty damning facts…

In  2014 the UK generated 202.8 million tonnes of waste for which the construction industry was responsible for 59%.

In total, buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide.

And so… I signed up to the cause to utalise our design creativity to collaboratibvely come up with a solution to one of the many drivers of climate change. I was signed up to #TeamGlass.

Essentially, reverting back to the source of the issue of glass in construction, is the amount of waste. Glass is recyable, upcycable, remouldable and yet… we put the majority of glass into landfill, where it doesn’t degrade.

Furthermore, the raw materials required to produce glass, such as sand, is causing huge scaring across the earths surface through mining, equally creating sand wars between different countries. Seems crazy eh?

Anyway… few months later we as a group of initially 10, then 5 due to COVID related issues, came up with the idea of the GlassPass. We issue licenses to manufacturers to “stamp” their float glass with a unique code which tells us the composition of the glass and by which manufacturer. Enabling demolition contractors, homeowners etc to recycle and upgrade their glass. Seems simple? Right? … here’s the link to find out more…

GlassPass

AH #003 – Revit Phasing

This sounds rather boring, but honestly, it is one of my favourite things to do in Revit. Primarily because we get given a small hammer and can go around our models demolishing things…

Slightly sinister, I am aware. However, exceptionally useful and easy to do! – When you know how… so follow these easy steps below:

Utilising the same model from AH #002 –

As you can see above, we are in the Main Model – standard 3D View. Scroll down in your properties bar to the left hand side…

You should see the Phase Filter – Show All and the Phase – New Construction (as highlighted).

This is set as a standard. Any modelling you create in Revit always starts in New construction as default.

Go to the Manage tab on the toolbar above, and the below pop up box will appear.

For now, we will deal with Existing and New Construction only, however you can add in another phase i.e. Temporary/ Phase 01 – Building works etc. and repeat the same process I am about to show you.

In the same dialoge box, the Phase Filters are key in showing the phases within your model. For example. Take Show Complete – the New Construction will be shown as per its model category/ template i.e. if you have a wall build up and the model detail is set on fine… the New construction will appear as so.

The Existing is also as Category – however if we change this to Overridden we can then use our Graphics override tab…

In Graphics Overrides we will change the Existing Phase – to show Grey solid hatch in all views. This will make it easier to assertain, what is existing against proposed. This can be changed at a later stage to show the existing wall make-up by leaving the pattern <as material>.

We will then do the same with Demolished! Creating a red hatch and line to assertain clearly in all views and drawings what has been demolished for New Construction.

Below we are about to demolish this roof. Note at present, it is shown as New Construction and under Phase Demolished – None.

Change those parameters to Existing – Phase Created. Phase Demolished – New Construction.

Go back into your 3D view – Change the Phase Filter to Show All under the New Construction Phase.

The Show All Tab (going back into our dialog box in Manage) will literally show all phases together i.e. The Existing (by category), the New Construction (by category) and Demolished (overridden).

Change that filter to Show Complete – Phase New Construction – Everything is shown in the same view excluding the existing/demolished.

Change the filter to Show Complete – Existing …

And only the roof will appear …

There is also another way to do quick and easy Demo works… Go to the Hammer under the Modify Tab … click on the item you want to demolish…

Et VOILA! A more fun way to Demolish items… just don’t get too carried away…

If you require assistance, elaboration on different settings or top tips, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll do a feature on it.

AH 002# Revit Design Options

Before I begin, I will say that there is a vast amount of knowledge on this particular subject – right at your fingertips.

Lynda is an online tutorial based knowledge hub which lists everything from Revit Design Options right down to Sustainablilty and Biophilic Architecture – you name it – they have it!

https://www.lynda.com/Revit-training-tutorials/1533-0.html

If this blog isn’t clear enough – I recommend having a look at the website above.

So, you are unclear of Revit Design Options? First off, you should establish why you want to use them. Internal layout? Facade change? or Massing concepts? – You’re in the right place.

  1. Start with your existing project – Here I have loaded a basic design which I will multiply and reconifgure using Design Options.
Previous model used in a project
NB this exists in the Main Model highlighted below

2. Go to your main toolbar – Manage -Design Options. Click on the Design Options button

2. Design options button highlighted in purple

3. A new window will open, showing the design options within the model. This is still a blank canvas.

Click on New Option Set, this will create a primary option – this automatically replicates your main model. Click new option to create a secondary option.

4. Et Voila, after a bit of modelling we now have an embellished design Option 01 – again note at the bottom of the screen where it states Option 01 – Primary

Design Option 01

Option 02 – little bit clunkier and more elaborate. Both types exist in the model and are interchangeable.

Design Option 02

Top tip – to compare and contrast Design Options utilising the same views – duplicate the views, assign a view template to all, but in the template click the desired Design Option from the drop down list otherwise this will remain <automatic>.

If you require assistance, elaboration on different settings or top tips, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll do a feature on it.

#004 Revolutionary Low-rise

I attended an RIBA Lecture titled Revolutionary Low-Rise. The UK housing crisis is a topical debate at present, this description was the thing that drew me in, promising a low-rise scheme to aid in the housing crisis whilst providing its inhabitants with a sense of community and equally privacy – basically having your cake and eating it.

The speakers at the event, were Abigail Batchelor Associate at Karakusevic Carson Architects and Mike Althorpe Research and development manager also at Karakusevic Carson Architects. They researched 9 case studies exhibiting high density living, using post-occupational studies to assess the successes and failures of each scheme. These projects were not based soley within the UK, but featuring projects from the USA and Europe also.

The different typologies featured complex layouts hosting both communal areas and private gardens.

“Responding to calls for a more humane approach to urbanism and challenging the orthodoxy of high-rise, architects in the 1960s embraced low rise-high density as an ethos to create innovative homes, while seeking to re-establish traditional patterns of community.

The UK led the way, offering alternative visions for urban living, which inspired a generation of projects across the world. Marking the publication of a new report supported by the RIBA Research Fund and Karakusevic Carson Architects, this event explores a radical period of experimental housing and discusses its legacy and lessons for London’s current drive to densify and develop its sprawling suburbs.

Barbican On Stage – Description of the Lecture

Overall, the entire presentation was very well done. The diagramatic images showed each project in an axonometric format, highlighting the key features in the floor plans. Each project responded very well to it’s surrounding context, stacking in height allowing for public and private pockets for each resident whilst providing an outdoor area.

The projects featured were:

Ruhrstraße 11, Kettwig Germany
1971 – 1972
Architect – Erwin Berning
Residential only

2433 28th Street, Santa Monica, LA
1980 – 1981
Architect – UFO (Urban Forms Organization) Steve Andre + David Van Hoy
Steve Andre, aka Steve Wiseman, Architect/Developer
Private
Residential only

Stellingmolen 161-19, Papendrecht, the Netherlands
1974 – 78
Architect – Frans van der Werf
Residential with commercial

Het College 15, Eindhoven Netherlands
1999 – 2003
Architect – Neave Brown
Private
Residential, retail and office

Spruce St, Philadelphia, USA
1968 – 1970
Architect – Louis Sauer
Edmund Bacon (City planner)
Residential + Community

Via Irma Bandiera, 16 Terni, Italy
1969 – 1975
Architect – Giancarlo De Carlo
Residential + Commercial+ Community
Suburban

Dartmouth Park Hill, London UK
1972 – 1979
Architect – Peter Tábori with Kenneth Adie, Camden Architects Dept.
London Borough of Camden
Public
Residential only

King Street, Cambridge UK
1965 – 1978
Architect – Ivor Smith, Cailey Hutton
Residential + commercial

Pimlico, Westminster, London, UK
1968-1972
Architects – Darbourne and Darke
Public
Residential + Community + Commercial

I didn’t have a favourite project, as they were all rather exemplary in their own way. I would like to see London adopt more of the key principles which resonated through these projects, for their future homes. Adapting each project to its context opposed to stacking generic floor plates… One key theme which I am seeing more and more of in the Architectural world, is mixed used schemes. Creating little communities such as those featured in the presentation, but also hosting public drycleaners, convenience stores, offices and pods for multifunctional space usage. If you wanted a yoga class space for example…

The document definetly explains this in more detail, and I feel these studys should be utalised more and more as we attempt to define communities without actually embracing the context or the opinions of those who might want to live in these spaces..

The take away from the Lecture was that, there are a lot of positives, and very minor negatives:

  • Low rise High Density encourages intergenerational living
  • Encourages smart mixes such as commercial and retail included in the residential blocks
  • Encourages a sense of community
  • Encourages a sesne of space and ownership
  • If executed correctly, it encourages a dynamic and original home

For more information – Revolutionary Low Rise can be found here

#005 Conen Sigl

Barbican hosting Architecture on Stage series featuring Conen Sigl Architects

This was a rather delightful lecture, and possibly one of my favourite from the series.

The lecture began with a conceptual collage featuring floor plans, isometrics and partial elevations of their portfolio, all lovingly combined to create a really interesting spatial concept.

As we dove into each project, moving from internal to external spaces, elaborating on how you read the journey and the spaces, tying them together subtlety using a specific architectural language, we began to unravel the key design moves that went in to every spatial composition.

At the end of each project, Conen Sigl made conceptual diagrams of each of their projects. This was an aid for then to remember the key aspects of each project and also produced truly amazing diagramatic compositions which were later transformed into furniture and then again into art work for an exhibition.

One such collage image the practice produced post completion

Using simple material strategies like using gloss paint in specific colours and shapes on the ceilings of each room to visually link the journey from one room to another, and circular columns with a geometric head to define the threshold symbolically from above.

Using architectural columns to create a covered outdoor space as well as being visually dynamic
Quote defining one of the key concepts which drive the practice design

On the final project they spoke about, the grand finale if you will, was a large community center with flexible floor plates adjacent from residential dwellings. Utilising the industrial context as inspiration for their corrugated blue cladding and harvesting the community culture whilst keeping residential and office commercial space partially interlinked creates the spatial dynamic which makes projects like this, thrive.

Another final note, I loved their renders. In every render a red ball appeared to provide a delicate undertone of playfulness.

Architect Hack #001

If in doubt, get the roll of tracing paper out.

There’s a reason why many still use pen and paper opposed to computer generated models to work through issues. Again, probably one of the few reasons why an architect firm can never truly be a paperless office…

This isn’t new, Architects, Designers, Artists, you name it – will always reach for the pen and paper to doodle on for inspiration or just to stop the infernal internal ramblings of an opinion stricken mind.

“Would this space work?”,

“Would this be value engineered down to a horrific mess?”,

“Which design would I want to occupy?”

“If I moved… that… there… Oh no, I’ve ruined it. CTL + Z! CTL + Z!”

“God, what am I doing?!”

“Coffee. Get Coffee. Then sketch.”

This is normally my inner monologue. There has been a lot of “bad press” surrounding sketching recently, primarily due to the rise in technological advances – i.e. Ipad Pro, VR, etc. However, sketching is not a dying artform neither is it dead. If you were in a meeting, and the client wanted to “tweek” an idea, sharpen that pencil compadre… lets sketch it out.

There is an architectural comic strip by leewardists and I think it sums up most aspects of an architects life pretty accurately….

… Sometimes the pen is mightier than the mouse…

Book list for February

My new years resolution has been to try to read a series of new books which will expand my personal and professional growth.

What you see in the photograph above, is a series of books which has been either recommended or that have drawn me in via a pleasing cover…

  1. Bovenbouw Architectuur: Living the Exotic Everyday
  2. Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture
  3. The E Myth Revisited – Michael E Gerber
  4. The Ten Faces of Innovation

I have just finished reading 10 faces of innovation, it is a very easy read and it has caused me to focus my attentions the multitude of personalities present in my current employment.

Tom Kelly defines 10 personailities breaks down each into specific traits, stating the personalities are not set to one individual and can be merged. Each personality is elaborated on by retelling personal experiences and in many ways encompassing one of the traits, i.e. the story teller. Overall, it is said with these personalities working in harmony, an optimum environment is provided for innovation to thrive.

There is a lot in this book which I know to be true, for example, in the Architecture industry the “WELL” standard has produced thorough research about creating an optimum working environment for employees in numerous industries. With small touches, such as office plants, natural greenery, informal spaces and hubs, provides these “spatial moments” prime opportunities for innovation to form.

I’d recommend this book to all personalities, employees or employers. It provides a holistic view of intricacies found in every company, with helpful stories and examples along the way.

Next book in the series… watch this space…

#006 Maccrenor Lavington

Barbican – Architecture on Stage with architects Maccreanor Lavington

Tonight was a lecture provided by The Architecture Foundation, hosted by The Barbican Centre. One of many in the Architecture on Stage series, Maccreanor Lavington Architects presented their work as a practice, rather strangely, they each presented 3 parts in two separate appearances on stage.

When quizzed on this, they gave a rather interesting insight into their working dynamic. Since practice inception, they both had to work on multiple projects and utilised each other’s different techniques and styles to critique a design. A rather inspiring partnership and one that has proved highly successful.

The practice projects ranged from micro to macro in scale, quite literally.

Recent developments in London are featuring a new concept called, “pocket homes”. Now, this isn’t a new concept, and as Maccrenor pointed out, the “livability” space required for an individual has grown exponentially as the years have passed. This could be down to a higher income or a more commercialised materialistic existence…

Facts and figures were produced in forms of a “livability matrix”. Shanghai exhibiting high numerical data for being an exceptionally livable city, with London and Paris following closely behind and tying.

Shanghai has been very open to this concept of “pocket living” and the practice Maccreanor Lavington have recently completed and handed over a large project of 3000+ units to it’s new residents. The aim of pocket living, is to provide housing at affordable prices to those who have no means to acquire property and the main feature being the units are “below recommended living space/m2 per individual”, (this is the case for London at least, as I’m not clued into Shanghai regulations nor will I pretend to be).

So, what’s the catch? This pocket living seems to work for Shanghai? People (according to the matrix data) have bought these properties and live a good quality of life in a desirable “livable city”.

Would this bother you? Or should we use the analogy of sugar tax?… I’ll elaborate.

If the price of sugar suddenly went up, cakes would become a luxury. No matter how many cakes were produced, the increased price of sugar would have to be absolved into the purchasing price.

With this in mind, how to we defeat homelessness when the underlying problems still persists. How do we stop our younger generations, the new influences, the new innovators, from moving elsewhere? Higher density does not often mean higher standards of living or sense of community.

The practice did however point out the importance of intergrating the public realm into each project and ensuring the project responded to its context in a considered and rational manner.

To end on a good note… one thing I did enjoy, was the practices dedication to their employees. They acknowledged all their employees on the final slide of the evening from 20 plus years, stating, they could have not gotten to where they are without their continual dedication and enthusiasm.

20 years of employees at Maccreanor Lavington

Double Chocolate Loveliness

Double Chocolate Almond Florentines – yes, that’s correct. THEY ARE GLUTENFREE TOO!

Who ever said that you can’t have your cake and eat it? Eh?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1 Large egg white
  • 1/3 cup icing/ confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • White and dark chocolate for drizzling
  • Fleur de sel salt for garish

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare baking sheet.
  2. Medium bowl combine almonds, egg white, icing sugar and vanilla. Stir gently – do not crush the almonds.
  3. Spoon mixture into 1inch balls onto baking sheet. Make sure they are 4inches apart before flattening the balls into discs. TIP – Use fork dipped in cold water to squash if they become sticky.
  4. Make sure there is approx. 1 inch between discs.
  5. Bake 20-25mins until golden brown. If they are slightly smaller they could cook take 15minutes. I recommend checking after 15mins.
  6. Remove and place on cooling tray. Wait for 5-10minutes until dipping or decorating
  7. For a chocolate base (either white or dark chocolate), fill a basin of hot water and place a bowl of chocolate into the basin. Allow to melt then dip Florentines into the melted mixture.
  8. Decorate top with left over chocolate. Sprinkle icing sugar on top for added sugar hit or Fleur de Sel for sweet and savoury combination.

ET VOILA!