Author Archives: Make Architects

Hand-Drawing, the Digital (and the Archive)

By Charles Hind, Chief Curator and H.J. Heinz Curator of Drawings, RIBA British Architectural Library

A couple of years ago, I was asked to give a talk to the Art Workers Guild on the subject Is hand drawing dead in the digital age. What was interesting was not so much what I had to say but the debate that followed. The general consensus was that the pendulum had swung too far away from hand-drawing in favour of the computer and that the balance needed to be redressed.

Serge Chremayeff (1900-96). Preliminary pencil sketch for the staircase in the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, 1934 (RIBA Collections)

A properly trained architect these days needs to master both skills. Some architects then present supported the view that you cannot really understand a space that you are designing if you do not link the vision in your head to your hand and via a pen, pencil or brush, transfer it onto paper. There was also agreement amongst the older architects present that it is sometimes embarrassing for a practice when a young project architect, faced with a question from a client, cannot quickly explain what is intended by means of a hasty sketch and needs to call in a senior colleague to do it instead. One major practice has introduced life classes!

The value of hand drawing as a topic regularly pops up in my world. Recently, for example, an architectural student complained to me that he had been criticised by one of his tutors for devoting too much time to hand drawing when he should be focused on his computer instead. Currently on display at the RIBA is a body of drawings by George Saumarez Smith that is centred around drawing as essential to the making of architecture (until 26th November).

George Saumarez Smith, ADAM Architecture, at work

Two very different types of contemporary drawing have just entered the RIBA Collections, both American. Steven Holl has presented a group of drawings for the new Maggie’s Centre that will open in Bart’s Hospital, London, next month. Holl works out all the significant aspects of a new design, its planning and appearance, in a sketchbook and on small sheets of paper before handing them over to colleagues in his office to work up digitally.

Steven Holl, Sketch for the new Maggie’s Centre, Bart’s Hospital, London (StevenHoll/RIBA Collections)

This is in a tradition that goes all the way back to the Renaissance. By contrast, David M Schwarz Architects and his client have given three very splendid presentation drawings, plan, elevation and section, of the Nancy Lee and Perry R Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas.

Jeffrey Loman for David M Schwarz Architects, Section of the Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas (David M Schwarz Architects/RIBA Collections)

Although largely traditional in style, the building is revolutionary in its use of technology to alter the configuration of the building to allow opera, theatre, ballet, musicals and symphony concerts to use the same auditorium but with the appropriate acoustic background and ceiling. The drawings, by Jeffrey Loman, are beautifully rendered and are very much in the 18th-19th century tradition.

So much for the practical and aesthetic qualities of hand-drawing. We must also consider the archival aspect of digital design, which is already proving vastly more complex and expensive a solution than was predicted. Like the RIBA’s Palladio drawings, which are already nearly 500 years old and are in great condition, these drawings by Holl and Loman will be around in another 500 years. The challenge is to find a way to make the digital as enduring as paper.

Andrea Palladio (1508-80). Sketch for the Palazzo Loggia, Brescia, with projects for palace facades and the nymphaeum, Villa Barbara, Maser, c.1554 (RIBA Collections)

Steven Holl’s drawings will be on display on the 1st floor landing of the RIBA at 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD from the 1st December – 23rd December.

This post forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. The winning and shortlisted drawings will be exhibited at the World Architecture Festival 15-17 November 2017.

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Drawing as an architect’s tool

by Laurie Chetwood

Many architects still use traditional drawing skills as a crucial part of the design development process: nothing beats sketching in real time to visualise and communicate ideas and concepts, whether to outline a vision or describe a detail.  Drawing allows unrestricted imagination of a space and the expression of a unique idea before the design process moves across to computer programmes for the technical design and delivery of a building.

Like most things, being successful at something comes from practice, and the inclination to practise usually comes from enjoying something in the first place.  Drawing as an architectural tool is no different. Drawing skills are available to anybody if they feel inclined to practise – it is the desire and confidence to pick up a pencil that can be missing.

When we have students on work experience placements in our Studio, one of the things they are often most nervous about is being asked to sketch an idea during a design workshop.  With encouragement and some practice, however, it is rewarding to see them realise both how valuable drawing is as a tool for conveying ideas, and how with practice they can develop their own individual drawing ‘handwriting’ as an invaluable auxiliary skill.

The ideas which come from these skills are a delineator and once in place – and with them confidence in the outcome – it is possible for a draughtsperson to use any of the tools at his or her disposal.  The choice of a particular drafting tool will depend on the intended outcome.

The natural skill of the architect who likes to draw can be enhanced in many ways, not least by using the latest technology.  A touch sensitive computerised screen can offer many advantages for architectural drawing including fast, easily produced images that can quickly be copied and distributed.  It is also possible to replicate most styles of drawing from a paintbrush to a 0.1mm ink pen.  There are thousands of colours, opacities and textures available and work can be repeated, layered and filed quickly and efficiently.

There are disadvantages though. The technology itself is an inhibiting factor – the super-smooth screen surface leads to a lack of control.  The formality of the process itself can inhibit and reduce confidence in the outcome.  In the end, there is no substitute for the informality and spontaneity of pen and ink or a soft pencil or chalks on paper.

This interview forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. 

Don’t take a pop at POPS




By Ken Shuttleworth


There is a growing debate on the rise of privately owned public spaces (POPS) that I’ve been watching with interest.

It was once the sole concern of local authorities to design and maintain our public spaces, to consider how best to zone and shape them for the various needs of different users. But now, of course, the world is a very different place, and the lines between who owns and who creates what are increasingly blurred.

We can no longer rely solely on our acutely cash-strapped councils to give our towns and cities the spaces and places they need to encourage people to visit, to dwell. So, for some time developers have been the protagonists behind the majority of the new squares and parks and public areas in our towns and cities, harnessing the area next to their buildings as an extension of the scheme itself. It has become the norm to introduce art, high-quality paving and lighting to draw people in and provide a distinction between that area and another – essentially creating a doorstep that is as superb as the building itself.

Granary Square (c) Roger Marks

Developers naturally have deeper pockets, and if they choose to dip into those pockets to help create new spaces for the public to enjoy, then I’d suggest that is to be welcomed. An exemplar here is Argent’s King’s Cross scheme, which includes more than four acres of public realm that knit the scheme together – a crucial part of what makes it so successful. Argent deserves a lot of credit as a protagonist in this trend. Its work at Brindleyplace in Birmingham delivered a variety of public spaces that incorporated art and landscaping in a manner unseen in the city before – a crucial driver for regeneration that has stood the test of time. It’s this fruitful formula that has transformed King’s Cross.

It is a fresh look at the way we breathe life into spaces and draw people in. People want to work, live and stay in vibrant places that offer more than just a desk or a bed – hence the cultural shift that favours mixed-use developments and creates what the Future Spaces Foundation calls ‘vital cities’. Coupled with this is a step change in the spaces around the buildings too, spaces that – like King’s Cross – knit buildings and uses together and give a place personality.

Many view POPS with suspicion, typically due to concerns over access, freedom of movement and wider use of the space, which are all valid. POPS aren’t bound by ordinary bylaws, and as their number increases it’s important we establish a set of rules for their government rather than relying on each development team to set its own.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has promised to look at guidelines that will “maximise access and minimise restrictions,” which, in London at least, should help to eliminate some of the worries around how these spaces are managed.

London Wall Place

London Wall Place

Overall, though, I believe we as an industry have an opportunity to create spaces that, while privately owned, can contribute socially and economically to the city, whether the plot is sized in hectares or acres. Make’s Rathbone Square development for Great Portland Estates has a publicly accessible, privately maintained garden at its heart that will provide an oasis away from the hustle of Oxford Street. And at London Wall Place for Brookfield, more than half of the scheme is devoted to privately owned public space, giving people a chance to enjoy a part of town previously blocked by a dual carriageway.

Rathbone Square

These schemes may be significantly smaller than King’s Cross, but much like this exemplar, their public realm aspects are a vital component to their commercial and public success. If local authorities can no longer deliver these spaces, then the gauntlet is thrown for us to provide them. The precedent set at King’s Cross should be inspiration enough.

Originally posted on EG 30.10.17

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On Stefan Davidovici

Trevor Flynn, director of Drawing at Work and founder of Sketchmob, on his admiration for architect Stefan Davidovici

Stefan Davidovici is a visionary architectural draughtsman – consummately skilled, starkly singular in his vision and immensely prolific. His work centres on speculative architectural interventions on the Martian landscape, which he conceives using collages of NASA photographs, and a future-focused Milan.

Since 2013 our correspondence has included exchange visits and numerous Skype calls, one of which he conducted from his laptop in a pass in the Alps. His unshakable passion for drawing is matched only by his love of mountain climbing, as evidenced in the vertiginous views pictured in many of his fantasy structures.

Stefan teaches at the Fondazione dell’ Ordine degli Architetti in Milan, and organises Sketchmob gatherings in Milan and Genoa that attract large crowds. Our Skype conversations inevitably revolve around two questions: what is the pedagogy underlying what we do, and how does the act of drawing build our knowledge of the world? Despite all the conversations we’ve had, we’ve never fully drained these subjects.

Stefan has uprooted and resettled several times in different European cities, and his fictions often reflect the viewpoint of an outsider, relying on fragmented impressions in an attempt to make sense of the whole. The act of drawing, he says, “fruitfully excites your imagination in the way a book excites you more than a movie, forcing your mind to create a complete 3D model of a particular space out of the partial image the eyes meet.”

I founded Sketchmob in London in 2007. Our meetings eventually became a way to keep in touch with architectural clients and friends who’d lost their jobs in the economic crash. We sketch together in great locations and then have a beer (actually, several). To draw, you only need a piece of paper and a pencil, so it‘s easy to resource these big recreational gatherings, which over time mature into rich cultural exchanges as a group identity begins to form.

The growth of urban sketching through programmes like Sketchmob is evidence of new generations ‘discovering’ drawing anew. Stefan is part of the last generation of sketchers who cut their teeth on paper with thick trace and a razor blade for scratching out errors. He has embraced computerisation as a post-digital freehand artist, using photographic underlays as his blank canvas. This is a fascinating aspect of his work.

When you draw, you inhabit the space you are sketching. Through empathy you ‘feel’ and assess the scale, texture, proximity and vistas that pour out of your hand in a physiological circuit linking your mind’s eye to your pen. Drawing is a complex intellectual process that is both an act of cognition and an embodied experience where your hand ‘knows’ the moves it should make to capture momentary abstract glimpses projected from the unconscious to the conscious mind.

The generic, unfeeling quality of computer-generated images is nobody’s fault, especially not the computer’s; the computer cannot feel. Typically we use computer renderings as underlays for drawing on, once they have done the donkey work of setting the views up.

What Stefan’s drawings exemplify is a tension between the ‘knowing’ of a recognisable space and the not knowing of the space being assembled by the imagination. Add to this the sensation of drunken imbalance that accompanies the drawing experience, manifest in the frail exactitude of the human hand.

His extraordinary body of work – including his futuristic animated drawings, in dialogue with photos of Milan by Stefano Gusmeroli – can be found on YouTube, Facebook and his blog: the architecture draftsman.

This interview forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. 

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Lessons on future office design from Asia Pacific

By Ken Shuttleworth

I have been travelling through Asia Pacific again this summer, visiting our Hong Kong and Sydney studios and attending a whirlwind of meetings and tours across Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Australia.

It was, as always, fascinating and exciting. Some parts of this region have enormous vision and passion when it comes to their built environment, and you can see why their creative industries are flourishing and why the area attracts such a hotbed of talent.

That thought stayed with me as I spoke at a recent Cushman & Wakefield Insight breakfast in Sydney. It was great to be there – a genuine highlight of the trip. I discussed what we had learned at the British Council for Offices annual conference earlier this year and compared this with the market in Australia. It seems to me there is an interesting synergy between what I gleaned from the BCO and what I saw on my travels – that young talent and creativity are driving the development of the market and attracting more of the same. A cycle of creative demand, resolution and growth.

It’s clear that the ideals and trends of the millennial demographic – blurring the lines between work and home, finding community in new places, protecting our future – are infiltrating the way we design our office spaces, even for the most corporate of firms. The focus is now on flexibility and adaptability, on sustainability, on using technology to enable new methods of working, on community and amenities in the workplace.

London leads the world in many areas of workplace design, but when it comes to ‘agile working’ – a phrase that came up multiple times over the BCO conference and has become a buzzword in UK development circles – Australia is streets ahead of the UK. They put it down to being more ‘direct communicators’ (you can say that again!), but they also employ far greater levels of intelligence monitoring across their buildings.

Back in the day, agile working was known as ‘hot desking’, but technology has evolved (and so too the moniker) to enable this to be far more effective, with building systems in place that can track who is working, understand what they need and allocate space accordingly. This reduces desk numbers, makes the space more efficient and provides flexibility for future growth. Our 5 Broadgate development for UBS is the largest such scheme in London – agile working was a key factor in allowing the company to consolidate its London offices into one. But Australia is stealing a march on this. It’s a trend we should watch. There is a wealth of young, creative talent in that region of the world, and we should be looking and learning.

This idea of observation brings me to my last point: that of Brexit. Yes, all eyes of the world are on us, virtually everyone I met with queried or mentioned Brexit. It seems people are sceptical as to whether withdrawing from the EU is such a good idea. In this ‘local global’ world we live in, everyone has a stake or an investment in the UK, and the uncertainty around Brexit negotiations is having a concerning ripple effect.

In years to come we’ll be looking to our young, creative talents to help us navigate our place in the world. Let’s hope we leave them with the infrastructure to do it – both physically and metaphorically.

Originally posted on EG 14.09.2017

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The role of the concept sketch

Illustrated by the house at 6 Wood Lane

by Mike Russum, Director, Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects

Much has been written about the benefits of hand drawing and our practice has over the years developed a particular way working through drawing. We use hand drawings in many different ways; to evolve projects conceptually and for presentation purposes to inform and delight our clients and other audiences. Some of our drawings are simply for ourselves as a device to reflect on our work and play with ideas.

The concept diagram is the starting point for developing our design approach.  We prepare analytical sketches investigating the parameters and the opportunities of each project. Critically these are not driven by aesthetic preconceptions about achieving an architectural style. The intention instead is to unearth objective clues that can lead to delivering optimal as well as interesting architecture.  Collectively we appraise and debate these initial ideas – a process that transcends into a magical carpet ride, with playful hand-drawn sketches emerging that help further refine the brief, set out strategic solutions and which often trump earlier proposals.

This process leads to a series of concept sketches / diagrams that distil our vision and objectives for the design.  Sometimes we pursue a single ‘ideal or pure’ direction or more commonly a hybrid solution which embraces a number of possibly competing ideas but also address the implications. A robust concept sketch becomes the touchstone for the design development – and it may even become a motif that informs the detailing of the constructed project.

Click to enlarge

This is illustrated in our most recently completed work – the award winning house at 6 Wood Lane. Here the concept sketches were developed initially from analytical investigations into:

  • Elevating living areas above sleeping areas to benefit from views and greater daylight
  • Accommodating off road parking space but reclaiming lost floor area above the cars
  • Optimising sun penetration into this house as well as the neighbours’ houses
  • Considering appropriate construction methods; both in situ and prefabricated

These led to sketches suggesting an orthogonal base to accommodate rectangular beds and the cantilevering elliptical form above for the open plan upper living element. This singular iconic form echoes the individuality of the existing villas that line the southern edge of Wood Lane.  Further sketches considered the cost and fabrication benefits of a traditional orthogonal ground retaining masonry base and the lightweight timber prefabricated barrel vaulted monocoque shell for the extraordinary elliptical living area element above.

These concepts were well established before the outline plans and elevations were developed and became the touchstone for the design development and detail enrichment thereafter.  Indeed the elliptical plan shape has informed many of the elements within the house including the dining and coffee table and an elliptical peep aperture in the boundary fence to the public footpath from the Underground station. A concept can thus vary in its scale throughout any given project giving it, we hope, a sense of cohesiveness , rigour and richness of detail.

This article forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. The article originally appeared in The Architectural Review.

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Make Models: An urban rail station

Client Confidential
Scale 1:100
Dimensions 300mm(l) x 50mm(w) x 200mm(h)
Time to make 3 days
Materials White ColorFabb PLA filament, clear ColorFabb XT filament
Model makers Paul Miles and modelshop work experience student Stephen Ward

Ready for transport

We were excited to take part recently in a competition to design an urban rail station in a global city. Whilst we unfortunately didn’t end up winning, we’d still love to share a bit about the model with you.

This 1:100 sectional model was constructed to show how the station’s two raised levels – the walkway and train platform – are positioned over a stretch of busy road. It also demonstrates how planting can be used along the perimeter of both levels, as well as the ground plane. The model, which was completed in three days, had to be small enough for hand luggage and robust enough to survive travelling to the other side of the world, where we presented it to our client.

A great sum of parts

To make the model travel-proof, we decided to 3D-print it, as 3D-printed items tend to be sturdier than acrylic parts. Rather than print it as a single piece though, we split the main body into about 20 smaller components, which meant we could orientate each item to be printed in a direction that would allow for the best surface finish.

We produced the parts overnight on our ten Ultimaker 2 Extended+ printers, using white ColorFabb PLA filament for the main body. The tessellated, gently undulating roof was printed with clear ColorFabb XT filament. The generally high ‘tolerance’, or ability to fit with other components, of 3D-printed parts means we were able to quickly assemble all of the components with minimal finishing needed.

Final touches

Meanwhile, the balustrades and platform doors were laser-cut to achieve a finer level of detail. To give a sense of scale and animation, we printed cars and a train on our Formlabs Form 2 SLA 3D resin printer and sprayed them silver. Finally, we used a mix of different-sized white trees from the London-based model-making shop 4D Modelshop to illustrate the planting possibilities.


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How drawing made architecture

By Jeremy Melvin, Curator at World Architecture Festival

Drawing is so important to architects because it is what distinguishes architecture, as Reyner Banham writes, from other perfectly respectable ways of making buildings.

It is axiomatic that architectural drawing took a decisive turn in the Renaissance. Less well known is the role of architectural drawing in Renaissance architectural historiography, which Guido Beltramini, director of the Centro Palladio in Vicenza, recently outlined in a discussion with the art historian MaryAnne Stevens and myself.

Guido explained that the first generation of scholarly Renaissance architectural historians, like Rudolf Wittkower, Anthony Blunt and James Ackerman (who died last year aged 97), were essentially art historians who became interested in architecture. Their prime interest was in buildings and the ideas they contained – triumphantly confirming that architecture could be on a par with painting and other artistic media. Think of Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, which outgrew its initial publication in the scholarly Journal of the Warburg Institute and became, aided and abetted by Peter and Alison Smithson, a touchstone for the intellectual ambitions of the New Brutalism.

A study for the left half of the Disputa | Raphael.
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

The Conversion of the Proconsul | Raphael.
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

The next generation, including Joseph Connors and Howard Burns, explored new ground, as second generations do. They put drawings centre stage and in so doing caused a historiographical revolution. Buildings, Guido continued, are evidence of the ‘winners’, not just of architectural competitions but of politics and power. Drawings open up more private and forgotten territories, the realm of speculative ideas and individual fantasies, which may give deeper and wider insights into the architectural psyche.

This also raises the issue of what makes a specifically architectural drawing, as opposed to a drawing for any other purpose. Here the discussion turned to Raphael and his letter to Pope Leo X of 1519, which was a plea to preserve Rome’s ancient monuments in the face of papal urban ambitions. Raphael has a reputation as the most confident and serene delineator of the Renaissance – though Waldemar Januszczak detects a thread of ‘restlessness and experiment’ throughout his oeuvre in a Sunday Times review of the Ashmolean Museum exhibition of his drawings. In any event, Raphael is quite clear that ‘the way of drawing specific to the architect is different from that of the painter’.

Architectural drawings have to give accurate measurements and are principally plans, sections and elevations. Raphael allows that perspective helps architects to ‘better imagine the whole building furnished with its ornaments’, but is firm that ‘this type of drawing . . . is the preserve of the painter’. It took the next generation and in particular Palladio (who was 11 years old when Raphael wrote his letter), to free architectural drawings completely from perspective and depend entirely on orthogonal projections. The stage was set for the next 400 years of architectural drawing, and the flowering of the Beaux-Arts tradition.

Villa Saraceno, Agugliaro: plan and elevation | Andrea Palladio.

As that tradition has run its course, and new digital technologies challenge anew the conventions of architectural drawing, the next generation of architects will no doubt explore the relationship between buildings and ideas still further.

This article forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. The article originally appeared in The Architectural Review.

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Full-court press


Maker Stuart Blower describes the experience of designing a second-place competition entry for FC Barcelona’s Nou Palau Blaugrana and how we can apply it to world-class stadia everywhere.


A new arena for Barcelona

In 2016 Make came second in a global competition to design the Nou Palau Blaugrana, a new multi-purpose indoor arena for FC Barcelona, one of the world’s great sports clubs. Best known for its supreme footballing prowess, FCB also has European Championship-winning teams in basketball, handball and ice hockey, all of which currently play in the badly outdated Palau Blaugrana, the smaller sibling of the 100,000-plus-seat Camp Nou football stadium.

Nou Palau Blaugrana

Building upon our experience designing the Copper Box – the popular handball arena for the London 2012 Olympics – as well as our masterplan for the new Tottenham Hotspur FC stadium, Make led a team to produce a design that sets a new industry standard for multi-purpose venues around the world.

The brief called for a 12,500-seat indoor sports and entertainment venue that could host a variety of sports and concerts year-round and provide additional training and performance facilities alongside the main arena. Working closely with MANICA Architecture from Kansas City and BCQ Arquitectura from Barcelona, we produced a bespoke solution that’s both state-of-the-art and cost-effective. The flexible design – a visually strong orthogonal form  – balances the key drivers of functionality, value for money and placemaking, creating a robust standalone identity for the Palau.

Copper Box

Tottenham Hotspur masterplan

The all-important bowl

The seating bowl is key to the success of a venue like this. It needs to offer spectators maximum comfort and provide an immersive, exhilarating visual and auditory experience. Since the atmosphere of a Barcelona basketball game can easily be as intense as that of the football matches next door, intimacy and flexibility were vital considerations in our design.

Together with David Manica and his team – brought on as technical designers for the bowl and its functional layout – we created a unique 270-degree configuration that meets the strictest federation requirements for basketball, handball, futsal and ice hockey. The horseshoe arrangement of suites and upper-deck seating ensures maximum seating and revenue generation for end-stage concerts, and creates a spectacular viewing experience from every seat in the house. All sightlines meet the minimum requirements of C=90mm throughout, though the compactness and intimacy of the design means many viewing angles actually exceed these requirements.

The orthogonal form offers excellent acoustics and state-of-the-art sound control for all modes of entertainment, from European Cup basketball games to classical concerts. We pushed the efficiency of the volume, using a flat-trussed roof structure to provide maximum acoustic quality and flexibility in lighting control. We also produced an upper and lower tier design, separated by a VIP level, which allows the upper tier to be easily curtained off. This enables the bowl to work for full and partially full events alike without losing that all-important atmosphere.

A major benefit of our orthogonal design is the reduced construction costs and programme, compared to more complex forms. It minimises wasted internal space, holds the facade as close to the bowl as possible and features four carefully tuned elevations as a result.

A focus on people and placemaking

The venue is designed as a good neighbour and has quality placemaking at its heart. The principal elevation responds directly to Espai Barça (the forthcoming remodelled Barça campus), marking the main entrance to the Palau and extending the public realm right up to the front door. Visitors are greeted by an animated facade that reflects activity inside and out, adding to the great sense of arrival.

Concourses blur the boundary between internal and external, with some concessions pulled outwards to get the bowl as tight as possible to the field of play, animating the exterior and providing additional revenue streams all year round.

Our design welcomes, energises, feeds and entertains spectators and players alike. It offers the best-possible environment for fans to support their team and display their allegiance, ensuring they’ll return time and again to this wholly community-owned club. A full venue is a successful venue and, therefore, a sustainable one.

FC Barcelona campus

Creating a successful sports arena

To be successful, venues like this need their own character – a unique feel, both internally and externally, that differentiates them from others and creates a sense of belonging among spectators. As designers, it’s up to us to study the habits and rituals fans engage in before, during and after a match. Where, when and how do they gather? What features can we provide to enable and enhance this? Paving the way for an unforgettable visitor experience was a key consideration for us. The Nou Palau needs to be its own building and brand, not simply a mini-Camp Nou.

Today’s spectator experience is so much more than a hot dog and soda (though that’s still on offer); it’s approaching a VIP offering. Getting close to the action now extends beyond simple glimpses of the athletes to include exclusive views of and even interaction with teams as they arrive and leave the pitch. Our Palau design introduces a ‘dine-and-view’ restaurant with table service, overlooking the field of play, as well as VIP suites with direct access to courtside seats. It’s all about providing a live experience that beats watching the match at home on TV. This is the future of sports matches and a crucial way to retain fans.

We should also be aware of how new technologies are enhancing the spectator experience at multi-entertainment venues. With smart devices, spectators can instantly upgrade their seats, change viewing angles, watch replays, order food and drink, and listen to referee commentary and TV analysis. These offerings will only continue to improve in the future.

And then there’s the athletes’ experience, which is integral to a sports venue’s success. Players need state-of-the-art training and warm-up facilities and a secure, well-organised environment that supports pre-game preparation. The offer should be premium but relaxed. Ideally, venues should inspire the home team to win and intimidate the away team.

A legacy that lives on

Creating a legacy venue depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is financial sustainability. That means being open every day of the year, whether there’s an event or not, and offering more than just sports and concerts – essentially, being a leisure destination in its own right. Just look at The O2 in London, which alongside its sporting and music arena has a cinema, a bowling alley, clubs, restaurants and bars, and is busy year-round.

Flexibility is a key part of being financially sustainable. Make’s design for the Copper Box, for instance, placed maximum emphasis on the post-Games legacy. The venue’s ability to host multiple events – from sports to concerts to conferences – enables the arena to maintain a profitable life years later. This layering of uses is inherent in our Nou Palau design, which includes outward-facing retail units with external access around the building that benefit from Barcelona’s Mediterranean climate, support the venue during events, animate the public realm at other times and provide those valuable additional revenue streams. The design also features a community football pitch on the flat roof that can accommodate major sponsorship opportunities.

Inside the Copper Box

We’ve got our game face on

While we didn’t win this high-profile competition, the experience has been unbeatable and stands us in great stead for our next sports venue design. We firmly believe our design is as good as any other around the globe recently built, offering a world-class entertainment experience, the very best in placemaking and a magnificent new home for FC Barcelona.

Article extracted from Make Annual 13.

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Ken Shuttleworth on drawing

How did you get into drawing early on?

Drawing has always been a way for me to express myself. I can’t remember not drawing. My dad encouraged it early on and when I started school, I was always enormously proud if my drawings were pinned up on the classroom walls. In my spare time, at the age of six or seven, I drew houses. We didn’t have a television, so this kept me busy and I developed a bulging portfolio of dream houses and crazy fantasy structures. Illustrated reading, jigsaws and maps also fascinated me, which I guess gives an insight into to how my mind works. I would often use pictures to explain my own thought processes; I still do.

How important was drawing to your education at university?

My ability to draw gave me confidence. As with many other architects – Norman Foster, Birkin Haward, Bryan Avery, Robert Adam – drawing was, for me, a way into architecture. I could draw really quickly, a useful tool when trying to justify an idea then and there. John Lee who taught me at Leicester Polytechnic, as it was then, noted my aptitude with my Rotrings (greatly admired German technical drawing pens) and started calling me “Ken the Pen”. The name stuck.

How do you draw now?

I still sketch a lot with pens and pencils, but I also increasingly use an iPad. Sometimes I scan my drawings and continue working on them with ‘digital brushstrokes’ software, which I learned about through David Hockney’s work. I also like to paint abstracts in acrylics.

Image © Ken Shuttleworth

How do you think digital tools have changed drawing as a way to design buildings?

New generations of architects are using their computers to sketch buildings. This is a much slower and more precise process than drawing by hand and the computer creates what is essentially a fixed drawing. It’s no longer an exploratory sketch, and we don’t see it as one. This can make an early iteration of a building more definitive than it perhaps should be. Then again, 3D models allow you to have multiple points of view of any particular design. It’s so much faster to visualise the whole with a digital drawing or even a 3D print.

But it’s also valuable to have to draw a section through a building – this doesn’t happen often enough anymore – because it makes you think it through differently. All tools have to be used with a lot of discretion and intelligence. Right now I am excited by the potential of VR (virtual reality). My clients are too. As an industry I think we need to invest more in this to really reap its benefits.

What do you look for in architects applying to Make in terms of draughtsmanship?

We like to see pencil drawings as well as drawings in other media. We really want to see the range of what someone can do. This also applies to the subject matter; of course we need to see drawings of buildings, but it shows creativity and inspiration if there’re other subjects included. Once we received an application that included pressed flowers which was a good way of communicating awareness and originality.

How do you support drawing at your practice and how should the profession support it?

We have life drawing classes at Make. They are a great way to encourage our architects to use drawing as a problem solving tool. When I can’t find a solution to a problem, I often start to draw, it helps to clear the mind and to focus. I think a lot of architects do this and it should be celebrated.

The Architecture Drawing Prize is a fantastic way to promote drawing in the profession and reflect on it as a form of presentation and in the context of masters like Soane, too. I think the profession overall should embrace drawing as a way of telling its story. It is about the process of designing rather than the final building. In the world of CGIs this often gets forgotten but can be far more interesting. Digital drawing and VR sketching will be amazing tools for the profession too, no one thing should outweigh another though, each has different uses, each has different benefits, all should be embraced.

Image © Ken Shuttleworth

How would you sum up the role of drawing for you as an architect?

Drawing has always been a part of my life and I basically see it as a way to explore. It’s about curiosity. I worked with Norman Foster for some thirty years. At his practice, drawing was a fundamental part of how we thought about buildings. It was equally as important to me as I set up Make and planned our future. I sketched on theatre programmes and napkins. I still do!

And clients always respond well to sketching. I draw a lot with clients in meetings, translating our discussions pictorially. It’s not as easy for people to type up the minutes but a picture paints a thousand words.

This interview forms part of our series on The Architecture Drawing Prize: an open drawing competition curated by Make, WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum to highlight the importance of drawing in architecture. 

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