2036: A Floor Space Odyssey

 

 

Property writer Peter Bill takes us through the key points of the City of London’s recently published City Plan 2036: Shaping the Future City.

 

“The best jobs in the future are going to be what I call STEMpathy jobs,” wrote New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman late last year. “Jobs that blend STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math) with human empathy. We don’t know what many of them will look like yet.” Indeed. But we do know enough about human empathy to know that nothing of much value gets done in spare bedrooms by pyjama-clad loners – something the City of London holds to be true, for the next 20 years at least.

Corporation planners are devoting much of 2017 to figuring out how the Square Mile might look and feel in 2036. Consultation closed last December on the 75-page City Plan 2036: Shaping the Future City, which provides plenty of clues for architects, planning consultants and developers. Clues are embedded in questions and maps showing what they might want and where. A draft local plan will be published this autumn, with adoption chalked in for summer 2019. But this year is for exploring opportunities.

View over Liverpool Street Station of the City of London tower cluster, with Make’s 5 Broadgate in the right foreground. (c) John Madden

Where to start? Begin with the dull but reassuring 187-page London Labour Market Projections 2016, published by the Greater London Authority last June. Key sentence: “Demand for professional occupations, and managers [will account for] three quarters, or 979,000, of additional jobs between 2014 and 2041.” At 100ft² per worker, that works out at damn near 100,000,000ft² of space – about 220 Gherkins, London-wide. How many the City will attract is, of course, the corporation’s only concern.

Plan 2036 declines to enumerate how many of those jobs will land in the City – wisely perhaps, given its dull-dog image among the under-30s and EY’s worries expressed late last year about 83,000 banking jobs on the line as we Brexit. GLA economists predict 80,000 more jobs in the Square Mile by 2041, up 20% from today’s figure of 400,000. Nearly 20 Gherkins-full. The word ‘office’ has a quill-pen ring; ‘workspace’ has overtones of sweated labour. So let’s first see where the City might allow Friedman’s STEMpathy space.

The bad news is that half the space needed by 2036 has already been designed and granted permission, including 14 towers. “Schemes under construction and permitted but not commenced could accommodate the Local Plan’s projected increase in office jobs in the City up to 2026,” says Plan 36, without mentioning the diameter of the pipeline. But it’s not hard to root out City figures showing a 4,700,000ft² pipeline. Say 10 Gherkins, which sounds about right, given 20 are needed by 2036.

Do not despair. Work has begun on the biggest of the 14 towers, the 1,400,000ft² 22 Bishopsgate scheme. This 67-floor skyscraper will be towering over the City by 2020. It just needs two or three other big developments to begin and a few more to be abandoned and the pipeline will shrivel like a punctured inner tube. Then what? Actually “then where?” is the better question. The Eastern Cluster is where. Think of the gap between the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie and east out to Aldgate.

City tower cluster including consented schemes, with Make’s 1 Leadenhall in the centre foreground. Visualisation courtesy of Millerhare for Brookfield.

Anyone with an interest in the next generation of towers will have been exploring this area since last summer, when the City released a plan delineating an Eastern Cluster. A 3D model of the area has since been produced and published. “This work is at an early stage but has already confirmed the limits of change in the Cluster that include impacts on the wider setting for the Tower of London,” says Plan 36. “The Local Plan review will consider whether any changes should be made to the area of the Cluster.” My italics.

Read that quote carefully, and remember the answer lies in the question. Move on. “What should the City look and feel like in 2036?” is the key question. “The current Local Plan evolved from the 2011 City of London Core Strategy, which was based on evidence collected prior to 2011. The Local Plan now requires updating to address recent development trends and to reflect the City’s emerging priorities and aspirations.” To translate: “The old plan is out of date. We need a new post-Brexit plan.”

Here comes the key phrase: “One option would be to identify a ‘Commercial Core’ where only offices and complementary uses will be permitted, with a more flexible approach to other land uses including housing outside the Commercial Core, though this may impact on space suitable for SMEs.” Bets are hedged, so as not to annoy small businesses. But to baldly translate: “If things get bad, we may need to delineate a formal Central Business District – the sort of thing that most other cities on the planet operate.”

A CBD would include Broadgate, and maybe further north and east into areas where under-30s might feel comfortable. “There may be potential for further business intensification in this area, particularly linking with the Tech City area around Shoreditch and Old Street.” Groovy. Meaning more developments like the 320,000ft² Fruit and Wool Exchange, now being rebuilt by Exemplar. But what might fill the areas between a new CBD and the 2,000-year-old Roman boundaries of the Square Mile?

1 Leadenhall, by Make, along Leadenhall Street. The scheme received a resolution to grant planning consent in January 2017. Visualisation courtesy of Millerhare for Brookfield.

More homes? A few. “Should we indicate where further residential development would be permitted?” asks Plan 36. The GLA is pressing for the present 110-units-a-year ceiling to be raised to 141 a year. The City has 8,000 full-time residents and 1,400 second-home owners. There is no indication more would be welcome. Over 200 flats are being built near St Bartholomew’s Hospital, close to Smithfield Market, an ancient blood-soaked spot which gets wary attention in Plan 36.

“Smithfield has been the home of a meat market for hundreds of years […] we will need to reconcile the needs of the meat market with greater pedestrian pressure resulting from Crossrail and the emerging Cultural Hub.” For “emerging cultural hub,” read the by-no-means-certain relocation of the Museum of London to empty market buildings. Will meat-trading be replaced by a Leadenhall-in-the-West gallery of shops and cafés? Maybe. But any proposal risks the porters’ terrible wrath. Don’t bank on it happening before 2036.

Make’s 40 Leadenhall Street scheme, which will house up to 10,000 people upon completion, is one of the biggest schemes to ever receive planning permission in the City. Visualisation courtesy of DBOX.

 

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The green tiger

 

 

Environmental design consultant Henry Woon of Atelier Ten speaks to architecture writer Sylvia Chan about what makes Singapore one of the world’s most sustainable cities.

 

Tell us about the concept of sustainability in the context of Singapore.

In Singapore’s building industry, there is a term called ESD, or Environmental Sustainability Design. Very often the industry assumes that ESD is the same as the environmental benchmarking practice, which is called Green Mark in Singapore. Green Mark is very much similar to BREEAM in the UK. It covers issues on building design such as energy, water, waste, material, biodiversity, construction process and wellbeing. It is a widely practised system in Singapore.

However, at Atelier Ten, we understand sustainability as a much wider concept that goes beyond benchmarking. A bespoke approach is often required for each project to achieve a truly sustainable design. In a way, benchmarking should only be a baseline requirement. We are pushing for a broader concept of sustainability that encompasses more aspects, and the Singapore market is also going towards this direction.

When did the concept of sustainable design start to prevail in Singapore?

I would say around 10 to 15 years ago, when there was a global push for sustainability in the built environment in response to global warming.

Typically, the built environment accounts for 50% of a city’s energy consumption. Singapore is a country well informed of the situation, and the industry has already started to respond to it. Green Mark was set up in 2005. Recently, Singapore also signed up to COP21 and the C40 initiatives dedicated to addressing climate change.

What triggered Singapore to promote sustainable design?

Singapore has very limited land for development. Most of the energy, materials and other resources for consumption are imports. This drove Singapore to focus on developing high-quality and high-performance projects which are less reliant on imported resources. This can increase the resilience of the city-state.

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. CREDIT: Jonathan Reid – Arch.Photos

What are some of the signature sustainable projects in Singapore?

I would say the first significant sustainable project is Gardens by the Bay, which was designed by Atelier Ten. The project won a number of awards, including World Building of the Year in 2012. It was designed to be zero-carbon, and sustainability was always at the heart of the project. The gardens feature an educational section at the end of the indoor greenhouse tour. This section highlights global warming issues, and showcases how the built environment and human lifestyle changes can help reduce carbon emissions. It raises environmental awareness at a domestic level.

Another project I would like to mention is the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Campus. The campus is set within the wild nature of Singapore and was designed to blend into nature as much as possible. The cycling network within the campus is very well utilised. The university also has relentless commitment to ensure the sustainable operation on campus. It launched an EcoCampus initiative and developed a campus-wide sustainability framework, aiming to reduce energy, water use and waste intensity by 35% by 2020.

Inside the Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), designed by Heatherwick Studio. CREDIT: Hufton + Crow

Who drives the sustainable design initiatives in Singapore?

The Singapore government has a significant role. A lot of the major developments in Singapore are funded by government agencies. The government is thus both the policymaker and the client. A lot of sustainability policies and their implementation are government-driven. The industry and the government are very much aligned, and sustainability policy implementation is very efficient here.

How does the Singapore government encourage and support sustainable design in the city?

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is the main agency in Singapore that sets up environmental and sustainability standards. It also drives their implementation. BCA’s strategies in promoting sustainability design are quite multifaceted. They include policy and regulation-making, initiatives to improve baseline performances, publicity of the Green Mark best practices, and provision of incentives to encourage developers to embrace sustainability measures. One extremely effective measure in incentivising developers to design projects with high environmental performance is additional GFA allowances.

The School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, designed by CPG Consultants.

Singapore has a very high population density. What are some of the unique aspects in sustainable design in the country?

I think the density of the city gives designers and developers the opportunity to establish infrastructure and utilise resources in a more centralised way. An economy and lifestyle that emphasise sharing can facilitate Singapore’s sustainable development. The city-state is moving towards this direction by embracing a smart city economy.

The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 outlines Singapore’s vision to become more sustainable. What new measures will the city take to achieve this goal?

The blueprint covers a wide range of areas, including sustainable resources, environmental quality and community sustainability. The ‘car-lite’ campaign, transportation infrastructure upgrade, waste recycling (particularly food waste) and drainage treatment are some of the key new measures to enhance sustainability.

The Henderson Waves bridge, designed by RSP, connects Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park, and is a prime example of Singapore’s green infrastructure.

What are the latest smart technologies used for sustainable design in Singapore?

Singapore has the vision to become a Smart Nation and is believed to be in the midst of its fourth industrial revolution. The next phase of Singapore’s growth will be driven by IoT (Internet of Things, or the infrastructure of the information society), data and services, as well as sustainable design principles that will improve work efficiency and quality of life.

I think the key contribution of smart technologies is allowing extensive data collection and monitoring at the right time and the right place. This makes timely action possible. Intelligent and interconnected systems also allow environmental design and operational objectives to be met. This is very powerful, and will change industries, businesses and people’s lives.

What are Singapore’s latest goals in sustainable design?

I think Singapore’s commitment to COP21 has a monumental effect on the nation’s sustainability development. The nation will need to reduce carbon emission intensity by 36% based on the 2005 benchmark, and this is a very ambitious target. The government has also set a goal to retrofit 80% of its buildings by 2030 and rolled out measures to encourage energy efficiency, which will reduce the city-state’s dependence on foreign energy import. All these will help Singapore to maintain its competitiveness in global business.

What sorts of investments or resources are needed to meet these goals?

Resources can go in the form of business initiatives, policies, or education and community projects. Investments in smart technologies and infrastructure are also important. As Singapore is very much a government-led society, policies are usually very well coordinated and can be implemented efficiently to promote sustainability design.

Different cities face different challenges. How can other cities best learn from Singapore’s sustainable design initiatives?

One thing that Singapore has successfully established is a simple, straightforward and standardised set of green building regulations. The Green Mark is a single document that covers all the principles of sustainable design, and it delineates regulations for both residential and commercial buildings. The simplicity of the benchmarking system eliminates conflicting and overlapping regulations that could lead to inefficiency or confusion in the industry. This is very important to a successful approach to sustainable development. If a city simplifies and strengthens its sustainability regulations and clarifies it goals, developers, architects and contractors will be able to understand and comply with them more easily. Singapore is a successful example that illustrates how effective this approach can be.

 

Sylvia Chan specialises in research, writing and public relations in architecture. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Hong Kong, and her research interests include architectural representations, translations in architecture and the concept of Chineseness.

Article extracted from Make Annual 13.

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The Human Office

As wellness continues to move up the design agenda, Make considers the future of the office and the kind of workplace it could become.

The future office will be a human office, created with people at its heart. Designed for humans to flourish, it will respond to people’s diverse social, biological and intellectual needs. In the future, workplaces will provide a stimulating environment which encourages the innovation, wellbeing and productivity essential to sustainable, thriving businesses.

Workspace will be designed holistically to allow people to interact in a more natural way than what’s allowed by the rigid, desk-bound model prevalent today. By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem which recognises the countless physical and organic connections which form a vital environment.

“By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem.”

Central to this is designing space which provides flexibility for different types of businesses, whether financial services or tech, whose staff will use the space in different ways. Multiple modes of working – such as quiet concentration in an isolated spot, collaborative working in an informal meeting space, admin work standing at a table with a device, or making phone calls from a booth – will be tailored for. Technology will play a fundamental and discreet part in enabling people to work as flexibly as they like.

It’s equally important to have spaces where people can relax, socialise, eat and play. Whether it’s yoga on a green roof, sleep pods in a designated ‘quiet corner’, or a canteen offering locally grown fruit and veg, these spaces are vital, as people are ever more focused on health and wellbeing. Providing spaces for these activities will look after people’s social and emotional needs, allow them to physically recharge, and provide rich territory for new ideas.

Conceptual illustration of the human office.

Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces. Analysis of behavioural patterns and business structures will allow designers to evolve and adapt space and routes accordingly. This could result in more flexible lease arrangements, allowing tenants to shrink, grow and restructure more efficiently.

“Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces.”

In the future there will be less physical division between indoors and out, allowing the outdoors to come into the building, bringing people closer to nature. Based on humans’ innate attraction to nature, spaces will harness biophilic design creating extensive visual connections, greenery, natural materials, circadian lighting and pleasant acoustics. Building facades will clean and filter natural air while also enhancing and maximising natural light. Together, these elements will create a less stressful and therefore more productive environment.

Workplaces will achieve zero-carbon wherever possible and start to learn how to generate positive energy back to the environment. Reuse will be paramount, and developments will maximise the use of historic fabric. This will contribute to lowering carbon, as well as providing a unique sense of identity for the workplace and staff. Companies that express their brand values within their overall design will also benefit from greater staff engagement. At ground floor, offices will nurture connections to the public realm, with fully customisable space which invites people in, allowing businesses and users to fully engage with the wider community.

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London Refocused

 

 

 

By Ken Shuttleworth, BCO Vice President

 

London is hosting the British Council for Offices (BCO) conference for the first time in seven years, and as part of my Vice Presidency Make has taken on a central role in organising it. It’s a tough call hosting an event like this in a city everyone thinks they know, so the real challenge has been putting together a calendar of tours and plenary sessions that show a new side to one of the most famous cities in the world.

So we’ve taken a different approach. As one of the global centres of commerce, London has some of the best new office stock in the world; with buildings at the forefront of design and technology, and attracts and retains some of the world’s leading companies. We have secured unprecedented access to over 50 new commercial buildings, many available exclusively to BCO delegates. The idea is to give a behind-the-scenes view of how London is catering for a wide range of occupiers who combine to make this city an unrivalled mixing pot of creativity, entrepreneurialism, trade and finance.

We’ve divided London into 14 bite-size clusters, each of which has a selection of incredible buildings that offer something interesting to learn, see or experience. From the regeneration hotspots of Battersea and King’s Cross to the Square Mile, the finance capital of the world, each tour will hopefully provoke, inspire and influence us to think about the future of office design, pushing the agenda beyond occupation densities and air con and into the real challenges of creating commercial stock that caters for the future as much as for today (keeping in mind that many of the buildings being planned, designed and built now will house a generation of workers who haven’t even been born yet).

We want to explore what an excellent commercial office will look like two decades on. What will occupiers want? What legislation is likely to be in place to protect the environment, the health of employees and the safety of contractors? How can we design now for the needs of future generations and predict what may or may not be top of their workplace requirements?

Someone who has been at the top of this game for decades is Norman Foster, Founder and Chairman of Foster + Partners, who is opening this year’s conference. Lord Foster has done more for office development than any other architect and is perfectly placed to bring the debate about the future of office space into a design sphere. He will offer his own unique perspective on London and share lessons he has learned while working on some of the most important buildings of our time.

Norman Foster

Our other keynote speaker is Ole Scheeren, Principal of Buro Ole Scheeren. He brings to the panel a completely new way of thinking about buildings, having earned his stripes working with Rem Koolhaas in Asia. He has built some of the most thought-provoking buildings of our age and now has his sights set on London. Delegates will have the chance to hear both his and Lord Foster’s perspectives on the role of office design in London’s future.

Ole Scheeren

Other speakers include Despina Katsikakis, who will be exploring the role of the workplace, how we will work in the future and how workplaces can reflect the direction of a business; and Sir Stuart Lipton, who will bring together a group of speakers to debate the changing rules over traditional locations and the impact this is having on the map of London. We’ll also be exploring the role workplaces play in the wellness agenda, and how buildings can contribute to our physical and mental health.

Despina Katsikakis

Sir Stuart Lipton

We’ve called it London Refocused, because we want people to look at London with fresh eyes and have the chance to see it like never before. We also want people to refocus their understanding of the role of offices and their impact on their surroundings, their wider cities and their occupants. Hopefully this will be an opportunity to break away from the day job and look at the bigger picture, including how we can influence the direction of our ‘unique corner of the working world’.

 

The BCO Conference runs 9-11 May in London, UK. Waiting list places available.

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Designing in Sydney

Ian Lomas

 

 

Make’s Ian Lomas, who recently relocated to Sydney, explains why designing in the city is so different from in London.

 

Light and shadow

Any first-time visitor to or returning resident of Sydney is struck by the sharp precision of its light, which crisply incises shadows and details into the city’s walls, describing an architecture of light and shadow. A heady mixture of Mediterranean heat and Alpine clarity, Sydney’s high-definition light unrelentingly highlights each shift in texture and exposes every imperfection, with shade a place of retreat.

Arriving from London, characterised by its soft light and history of understatement, the Make team has had to question our established relationships with building materials. We relish this opportunity to explore the changed personalities of our long-time friends and collaborators – concrete, stone, brick, glass and metal – and choose materials that absorb and diffuse this light.

No material celebrates these characteristics more than the original sandstone quarried in the city. The stone seems to both drink the light and emanate it. The Lands and Education Buildings of our Sandstone Precinct project are hewn from the ground they sit above, with deeply recessed loggias, reveals and cornices richly brought to life by dark shadows and the fierce sun.

Render of the new Lands and Education Building

This material is now in short supply, and much of the stone quarried today looks drained by comparison. Wisely, our new extensions to these buildings don’t seek to mimic the originals but employ materials and forms that accentuate the grand sandstone base. A series of delicate diagrids appear to float in the sky above the Lands Building, while a rigorous rhythm of slumped glass bays, topped by a dramatic cornice of garden terraces, defines the reinstated shady garden court of the Education Building.

Render of the new Lands and Education Building

Topography and grid

The internet encourages us to experience the world remotely, through satellite images that serve to trick with their easy overview and tell us nothing of what it means to walk streets and experience places. From above the shifting grid iron of central Sydney, contained within a narrow peninsular jutting out into the harbour, the city seems as straightforward and recognisable as Manhattan. However, the steep hills, landscape and history have other plans.

In New York the buildings conspire to provide drama, with street canyon vistas focusing on the void of water. In Sydney the experience is more spatially complex, with the rolling topography, grid alignments and buildings playing sometime harmonious, sometime discordant melodies. This dramatic urban setting conspires to frame unexpected vistas, allowing seemingly diminutive buildings a dramatic presence, with grand set pieces often enjoyed through tightly focused slivers that tease the pedestrian.

When we were invited to participate in the Wynyard Place competition, we had to throw away our first sketch designs, which had neatly rendered Sydney in a two-dimensional plan. Our final, winning design was driven by the context, which we came to understand only after we walked the streets at length and experienced how people move, views change and the city guides you – something architects must do in all cities they work in. We deliberately took the massing apart and reassembled it to alternately anchor views down Hunter Street, open up vistas to the Shell clock tower and act as a backdrop to Wynyard Park.

Street view of the new Wynard Place building

Extracted from Make Annual 13.

 

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Cycle design for the workplace

Matt Bugg

 

 

Make’s Matt Bugg on the rising popularity of cycling in the UK and how designers are responding to the growing demands of a cycling workforce.

 

Cycling on the rise

Kuala Lumpur has its crowd-sourced cycle maps, Jakarta its car-free Sundays, Copenhagen its Cycle Snake bridge. In the Netherlands, Groningen is home to heated cycle paths and traffic signals with rain sensors, while Krommenie boasts the world’s first solar cycle lane.

And London? The Mayor is investing £770 million in cycling infrastructure across the capital to improve cycle safety and encourage more Londoners to travel by bike, as well as accommodate those who already do. Two new Cycle Superhighways have been announced, London’s first full-time Walking and Cycling Commissioner has been appointed, and a network of backstreet routes known as Quietways are due to open later this year. Another £90 million is going to the Mini-Holland programme, which is giving three outer London boroughs funding to improve streets and facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

Visualisation of the new road layout at Blackfriars Junction

It’s not just the capital that’s racing to update its cycle infrastructure. Leeds and Cambridge are each now home to a CyclePoint – a Dutch-style, rail station-adjacent facility that offers secure bike parking plus a repairs service, info centre, rental bike concession and retail shop. With space for nearly 3,000 bikes, the Cambridge CyclePoint is Britain’s largest dedicated cycle parking facility.

All these developments are part of a wave of bike-related infrastructure transforming cities around the world – a collective effort to make cycling an integral form of transport and a normal part of everyday life, something people feel safe and comfortable doing. Popularity for cycling is certainly rising here in the UK. Running and cycling app Strava data shows that riders nationwide logged an unprecedented 803 million kilometres in 2016, while TfL expects there to be more Londoners commuting by bike than by car in 2018.

Given that many of these journeys are work commutes, it’s worth asking: how can architects use their office designs to encourage this upward trend?

The workplace response

With the rising popularity of cycling in the UK comes a growing demand from commercial occupiers for better cycling provision. In the fierce battle to attract and retain the best talent, businesses are under pressure to provide cutting-edge cycling facilities – a trend that’s transforming cycle provision in workplaces across the country. Ample bike-parking, showers and changing rooms are fast becoming obligatory features of new-build and refurbished office schemes. What does the modern office worker want from their physical workspace? Increasingly, the answer is a place to secure their bike.

At Make we have a team of specialists in building and property-related cycle design. We take a progressive attitude towards the integration and delivery of cyclist and pedestrian-friendly spaces, particularly in our office designs. In doing so, we encourage low-carbon transport and help make cycling a safe and convenient option for commuters, including those with disabilities.

Take our work on 5 Broadgate, a new world-class office building in the City of London for UBS. Exceeding best-practice cycling facilities formed a key strand of the transport plan. In pursuit of British Land’s ‘Places People Prefer’ sustainability strategy, we provided an exemplary cycling facility with a dedicated cycle ramp and separate mezzanine level containing 523 cycle spaces, 500-plus lockers, and 50 showers and dressing areas.

Substantial cycle provision also proved integral to our designs for 80 Charlotte Street and Rathbone Square, both mixed use office and residential developments. The former includes 226 secure and covered cycle parking spaces, plus shower/changing facilities; the latter, meanwhile, has nearly 500 cycle parking spaces – including dedicated office, retail and residential provision – and heated lockers and showers.

And then there’s Make’s own studio at 32 Cleveland Street, a converted car park completed in 2015. Intent on giving our employees cycle provision, we repurposed a redundant lightwell to maximise our limited space and open up access to wall rack storage for 30 bikes, plus showers and lockers.

The next steps

As designers, we’re faced with the challenge of producing efficient, innovative designs for workplace cycle provision – ones that not only address cyclists’ individual needs but also integrate into the wider infrastructure. This means considering the population at large and allowing for a far greater cycle provision in our public realm projects. There’s even scope to embrace automation. Just look at ECO Cycle in Japan, which provides large-scale automated underground cycle parking facilities – a boon for densely populated cities.

Ultimately, we share the view of architecture writer and friend Peter Murray, who is adamant that “cities which have fewer cars and more active transportation are better cities to live in.” As noted in TfL’s London Cycling Design Standards, which Murray provides training and guidance on, cycling is fast becoming a mass transportation mode, and new developments must reflect this shift and allow for future growth too. We support the guidance these standards provide, and we strive to produce workplace designs that further this vision.

This post has been adapted from Make Annual 12.

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Harold on Tour

Make’s Cycle to MIPIM team had been looking for ways to raise money for children’s charity Coram, the official charity of the ride, and was thinking of producing and selling 3D-printed cartoon figurines to be mounted on cycle handlebars. After discussions with Coram and event organisers Club Peloton, though, it was decided that we would instead print figurines of Coram’s puppet mascot, Harold the Giraffe, and give one to each ride captain to display on their handlebars during the ride. It would be a perfect opportunity to help Coram increase its visibility during the event.

After deciding on Harold’s dimensions, we worked with specialty 3D printing shop iMakr on computer-modelling the geometry. The first five prototypes, printed in-house at Make, were successfully tested on a training ride to Brighton, after which we did the next 20 for the ride captains – plus one for a Coram trustee who’d specially requested one. With each Harold taking one hour to hand-paint, we were lucky to have a number of volunteers help bring him to life.

170223_giraffe-painting_mf-33 170223_giraffe-painting_mf-47 170223_giraffe-painting_mf-68

The Harolds will be presented to Coram before the riders depart on 9 March, at which point each Harold will be proudly displayed on the ride captains’ handlebars for the duration of the 6-day, 1,000-mile ride to Cannes. Riders and supporters can chart and follow his journey using the hashtag #HaroldOnTour.

Coram is an incredible charity, so we at Make, along with our friends at Club Peloton, are thrilled to be able to help them like this. We encourage everyone to get involved and help make Harold famous!

170223_giraffe-painting_mf-55

Follow the action on Twitter:

@ClubPeloton
@Make_MattBugg
#HaroldOnTour
#CycletoMIPIM

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Are you VReady?

Peter Greaves

 

 

Peter Greaves on the great potential of virtual reality in architecture, the best products on the market, and how we’re using VR at Make.

 

The ‘Virtual Renaissance’
Virtual reality (VR) has had a few false starts over the years, but it’s matured into a technology ready for a wide range of consumer and commercial applications. 2016 was heralded as the year of the ‘Virtual Renaissance’, with VR moving beyond its traditional gaming and entertainment sphere into front rooms and business fields as diverse as retail, charity, education and medicine, among others.

With architects now able to use VR software to easily create and interact with computer-generated 3D environments, it’s not hard to envisage virtual reality joining CAD, physical models and the pen as an essential design tool of the future, with architects and clients able to ‘step into’ their designs at the flick of a switch.

Still from the virtual reality setup of a building Still from the virtual reality setup of a building

Exploring buildings with VR
VR is already beginning to influence real estate sales, especially in the United States. Property developers there are using it to sell off-plan homes, with customers responding positively to the opportunity to stand inside an apartment before it’s been built. This illustrates the huge advantage VR has over a CGI on a flatscreen: a realistic sense of scale.

Architects who’ve spent their lives looking at 2D plans and 3D computer models have become experts at interpreting them and imagining the space they’re trying to show. But it’s always tricky to convey this to clients. The most successful method to date has been the physical model, which is much easier to understand than flat approximations of space. But even with the speed and ease afforded by 3D printing, models still have their limitations, namely, that they’re built at a greatly reduced scale, meaning a good amount of imagination is still needed to understand the building. Architects rarely have the freedom to build a 1:1 model of even a single room of a building, and if we do manage to mock up a space, it’s usually late in the design process or even during construction. VR could potentially solve this problem, allowing architects to present fully 3D, 1:1 scale ‘models’ of buildings for clients to explore.

The best VR for architects
The four main products currently on the market for architects that Make is exploring are:

  1. Oculus Rift – kick-starting the current VR renaissance, this headset lets users look around a 3D space. Movement is limited and primarily a seated experience, with the avatar controlled with a standard gaming console controller.
  2. HTC Vive – what we use at Make, the Vive introduces ‘room scale’, with two small tracking lasers that locate the user’s head and the visuals respond as the user walks, jumps or even lies down, creating the sensation of being in a different place – a phenomenon known as ‘presence’. It also uses two wand controllers, similar to the Nintendo Wii’s remote, that let users see their hands and interact with objects within the virtual world. People can use these tracked controllers to paint with a virtual brush, or pan and rotate a model or image, simply by moving their hands.
  3. Google Cardboard – a simpler solution in which users put their smartphone inside a special cardboard box with two lenses and look inside. Here, the smartphone forms the screen and brains of the machine and can produce a visually similar 3D environment to other methods. Apart from that it’s quite limited, but it does have one major advantage: it’s extremely cheap and portable, making it easy to take to meetings or send to clients, who can download an app or model and view it in 360-degree, 3D video.
  4. PlayStation VR – promises some of the more impressive VR features at an affordable price point, which many predict will be what brings this product to living rooms across the globe. Clients, once they’ve tried on their children’s VR goggles and look around the fantastical worlds developers are creating, might rightly ask, “Why can’t I walk around in my BIM model?”

Woman using HTC Vive    Man using HTC Vive

VR at Make
At Make, we’ve used our HTC Vive on several projects so far, allowing clients to view and even ‘stand inside’ their building at full scale as we design it. The response has been overwhelmingly positive: we can more easily explain our design decisions, and they can more easily understand the building. Take ceiling height, for example: you can try to explain how certain dimensions will feel, but it’s far more effective to put a client inside the room and let them see for themselves. It’s also far less time consuming and expensive than mocking up a false ceiling somewhere. BIM modelling has such a high level of detail that a good VR tour of the model can offer a full-scale mock-up of the whole building before a single spade has broken ground.

We’ve also started printing our own version of Google Cardboard viewers to send out to clients. These can be posted flat and sent alongside project documents, drawings and renders to offer an additional description of the building, either as an immersive environment or a 3D video and flyby. The ability to convey a true sense of scale, even in this simple form, is a powerful addition to our current forms of media.

VR and the future of architecture
VR is certain to have a tremendous impact on how we communicate our designs to clients and make design decisions. Simulating the way light enters a room, the way sound insulation reacts to ambient noise, even evoking a sense of place – this and more is on the horizon once VR is combined with existing and emerging technologies.

Integrating this level of immersion into the design process will undoubtedly lead to better-realised visions and more successful designs in the future, not just at Make but across the industry at large.

Woman using VR headset

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Property’s rising stars on the future of the industry

Laura-Le-Gal
By Laura Le Gal


The events of the past few months suggest there is a sharp divide between the way the young and old think in the UK. However, at the recent Estates Gazette roundtable entitled “Property’s next generation: the change agents”, the consensus among younger professionals in the industry was that the older generation is listening to them more than ever.

With the tide turning against some of the “old, traditional ways”, according to British Land attendee James Rolton, we are bound to see the ideas of the next generation playing more and more of a central role in the way we do things.

Held as part of the London Real Estate Forum 2016, it was an honour to be invited to take part in the event, which gathered 20 millenials across firms such as British Land, Knight Frank, The Collective, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Leadlease.

Mr Fogg's_7
The roundtable at Mr. Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair © Garry Castel, Modo Publishing

Emily Wright, features and global editor at the Estates Gazette chaired the discussion, which centred on who the next generation is and how they can help shape the future of the built environment.

So what do the next generation think?

Below are five of the most salient points I took from the conversation:

  • What’s the definition of “next generation”?
    It’s not just a matter of age – the term encapsulates individuals who were also “wanting to set the world on fire”, as well as having reached a certain professional maturity (around 10-15 years’ experience) and the influence that comes with it.
  • What are the new challenges of the modern workplace?
    The fact that the next generation needs to be adaptable, flexible, and open to change if they want to be successful. Stability, lifelong employment in a single company, or even doing the same job one’s whole life are not something this group is likely to experience. The world is rapidly changing and technology will increasingly affect the way we live and work.
  • What is the next generation known for?
    While tech was seen as being synonymous with millennial-led innovation, there was some debate over whether there is more to the story than CRE tech (commercial real estate technology). Design also has the power to “address real social problems” and change people’s lives.
  • What are the biggest challenges or opportunities the next generation faces?
    The public sector is not as innovative as some of the private sector, often putting up barriers to unconventional new ideas, because they don’t fit in the boxes and regulations already in place. Governments and councils need to attract young people with dynamic ideas, and give them the power to change things.
  • How are the next generation changing the industry?
    Alternative development projects led by ambitious young entrepreneurs – eg Boxpark and The Collective – reduce the red tape and project timelines from start to completion. The Collective CEO Reza Merchant described his company as providing an alternative form of living and working, purposefully designed for young people.

It’s worth making one final point, that the majority of the participants of the roundtable were male and Caucasian. If we are to design for an increasingly diverse society, then increasing diversity within the sector is a challenge we must all meet head-on.

However if the energy, expertise and passion of this particular group of individuals is anything to go by and the fresh and exciting ideas that they brought to the debate, it feels like there won’t be much that we can’t achieve and change if we put our minds to it.

 

For more information on anything covered in this post please contact comms@makearchitects.com or your usual contact at Make.

 

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UK Employee Ownership Day 2016

Today Make is celebrating UK Employee Ownership Day. With numerous events running across the UK and the involvement of thousands of employee owners and other partners, EO Day is an integral part of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) events calendar and was introduced to raise awareness of employee ownership as an economically strong and balanced business model.

Since our founding in 2004, the practice has been 100 percent employee-owned and held in an employee trust. The model has provided a robust and sustainable foundation for building – and maintaining – an incredibly successful practice.

Founder Ken Shuttleworth says, “When setting up Make, I knew I wanted something different. I envisioned a practice owned by everyone – and this was before we even knew there was something called ‘employee ownership’! That model had already proved to be a great success at John Lewis, and it went on to be a great success at Make, as well. For us, employee ownership creates a wonderful sense of belonging, of all working towards a shared goal. It’s a big part of what makes Make the great workplace it is today, and will continue to help us stand out in a competitive market as we grow.”

In only 12 years, we’ve grown from 1 to over 150 employees across studios in London, Hong Kong and Sydney. We currently rank 24th in the Architects’ Journal AJ100, a ranking of the UK’s top architectural practices, and have also been named AJ100 Employer of the Year 2016. As one of a small (but growing) number of employee-owned architectural practices in the UK, our structure provides a unique selling point in recruitment which enables us to secure the most talented professionals.

Employee ownership has always been in step with Make’s collaborative, non-hierarchical culture, which gives equal weight to everyone’s ideas and encourages equal participation in decision-making. Since every employee is a partner and receives an annual profit share, every ‘Maker’ is that much more invested in the success of the company. This level of dedication benefits Makers, of course, but especially clients, who can be sure that they’re always getting the best out of everyone.

Deb Oxley, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, says: “When people have a stake in the place they work, the commitment to it and investment in it is much higher.”

More generally, the benefits of employee ownership have been proven in EOA-led research, and include improving employee health and wellbeing, increasing productivity and fostering creativity and innovation across an array of industry sectors. In addition:

  • UK employee owned companies contribute over £30 billion to the UK economy annually
  • Employee-owners have higher levels of job satisfaction, feel a greater sense of achievement and job security, and are more likely to recommend their workplace than employees in non-employee owned businesses
  • Employee owned businesses operate in a range of sectors including healthcare, social care, education, transport, manufacturing, retail and professional services

Oxley says:

“Companies such as Make Architects are great examples of the economic and social benefits that can be achieved in an employee owned environment. The EOA is proud to lead the sector-wide celebrations of employee ownership on EO Day 2016, as part of our activity to raise awareness and move employee ownership further into the mainstream of business structures.”

The Employee Ownership Association is a not-for-profit and politically independent organisation that represents businesses which are employee owned or transitioning to employee ownership across the UK.

Supporting a diverse network of more than three hundred companies, the EOA works in close partnership with its members to champion, promote and provide insight into the business case for employee ownership, and advocate the place of employee ownership within the UK economy.

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