Category Archives: Architecture

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European Championship-winning teams in basketball, handball and ice hockey, all of which currently play in the badly outdated Palau Blaugrana, the smaller sibling of the 100,000-plus-seat Camp Nou football stadium.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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Make Models: FC Barcelona

Client FC Barcelona
Scale 1:200
Dimensions 700mm(l) x 500mm(w) x 300mm(h)
Time to make 1 week
Materials Clear filament and white selective laser sintering (SLS)
Model makers Paul Miles and Petre Craciun from Make, and Digits2Widgets

The project
In 2016 Make came second in a hotly contested international competition to design the Nou Palau Blaugrana stadium for FC Barcelona. In partnership with Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ and MANICA Architecture, we designed a 12,500-seat sports and entertainment destination as part of a wider masterplan.

The model
The model was built as part of our pitch for the project. Split down the middle, the sectional model comprises a white 3D-printed SLS element to show the exterior, and a clear 3D-printed filament section to show the orthogonal stadium, seating and interior.

The floorplates were laser-cut, and the tiered seating was 3D-printed with clear filament to show the viewer what’s going on inside the stadium.

Changeable plates show the different uses of the space in the proposed arena, from hosting basketball and hockey matches to putting on rock concerts.

Removable plate

Each level of the model interlocks around the columns and cores, bringing stability to the structure, and the model sits on a black acrylic base.

Eyes on the prize
We’re immensely proud to have delivered a world-class venue design for a world-class club. The stadium sets new industry standards for arenas around the world; it’s a compact, flexible, functional and highly efficient design that fits within the wider scheme and is rooted in the history of FC Barcelona.

#makemodelmonday

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Hotels by Make

 

 

Make’s Katy Ghahremani, who led the design of the award-winning Temple House in Chengdu for Swire’s House Collective, explains our approach to hotel design.

 

In a world where people are travelling more and more for both business and leisure, global travellers are looking for comfortable and authentic hotel experiences. At Make we have a deep understanding of what it takes to create them.

The hotelier’s vision

The best hotels have a strong, visionary hotelier behind them. We believe in listening to and understanding that vision so we can create buildings and spaces that deliver a holistic guest experience. We work with hoteliers to deliver a seamless concept that incorporates everything from a guest’s initial digital interaction on the hotel’s website through to their physical arrival, stay and, finally, to check-out.

The future is about service design, which buildings are only a part of. As lead designer, we like to be ‘conductors’ of an ‘orchestra’ that includes lighting and landscape designers as well as library and music providers. In each of our hotel projects, we strive to provide an overarching concept for guests to enjoy, one that considers all possible ways to improve people’s stay.

Delivering authenticity

Guests want to stay in hotels that reflect a sense of place and are integrated into their local community. Our hotel designs are mindful of their location and take inspiration from their context – be it country, city, neighbourhood or the building itself. The best hotels have public areas used by locals as well as guests, as this offers a glimpse of local life and sense of community. Hotel guests don’t want to stay on ‘cruise liners’ anymore, isolated from the area where their hotel is located. With the rise of Airbnb and its hospitality focus, hotels must work harder than ever to deliver a personal, friendly and authentic experience.

Embedding guest service

Designing back-of-house areas that allow hotel staff to deliver the best service is imperative. The easy flow of goods in and waste out is just as important as how guests themselves move through the building. The same goes for the journey of hot food – how it travels from the kitchens to the restaurant tables and hotel rooms – and the staff areas, as a happy staff leads to a better level of service, which in turn produces a better guest experience.

Thankfully, being thoughtful about this kind of design doesn’t necessarily mean being more costly, just more creative.

Prioritising wellbeing

At a basic level, the most important function of a hotel is to provide a safe and comfortable place for people to sleep. And yet so often rooms are not designed with sleep in mind. Whether it’s due to confusing light switches or noise coming from the corridors, sleep deprivation is all too common.

Our ambition is to design great rooms that encourage peace and calm, and allow guests to sleep, relax and work in comfort. This means thinking about the smallest details, such as allowing for privacy in the sleeping area when the hotel room’s door is opened and locating light switches and charging sockets by the bed. It’s these details, whether seen or unseen, that result in a memorable stay.

Article extracted from Make Annual 13. Visit our website to find out more about The Temple House project.

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Make calls for a cultural shift in industry’s approach to fire safety

 

 

 

By Ken Shuttleworth

 

It has been a month since the Grenfell Tower fire – an event that we as a country will never forget and that we in the property industry should never forget. It is rare, in this country at least, that our industry could play a central role in a tragedy of this magnitude and horrifying to think that our sector could be held partly to blame.

Although we cannot jump to any conclusions before the inquiry has taken place, the property industry as a whole has an enormous and immediate responsibility to take stock of its role in fire safety. If this isn’t a line in the sand to do so, then I don’t know what is.

For those interested, I would refer you to some excellent writing on BD Online, by both journalists and commentators, that picks apart some of the regulations on, and specifications of, the materials used at Grenfell and examines their appropriateness, and looks at wider issues related to building regulations.

Clearly, there is no panacea that could prevent this happening again – it goes far beyond one issue. As such, we need an all-encompassing, wholesale review of fire safety, from strategy to materials to regulatory compliance, spanning the entire design procurement, build and maintenance stages. Nothing can be taken for granted.

We also need to aim above and beyond the regulations. We should be pushing for the highest possible standards at all times, just like we do with energy use via sustainability assessment methods.

As an industry, we can start the change now.

The UK can learn a lot from other countries. In Mumbai, a modern, high-rise residential scheme is required to integrate a fire break floor at every 70m and incorporate an open deck space on every seventh floor.

In Hong Kong, intermediate refuge floors must be provided for anything higher than 40 storeys, and all residential towers must have two means of escape. The favoured solution is scissor-stairs, which need to be naturally ventilated.

In Australia all buildings above 25m in height are required to be fully sprinklered and have two means of escape. The use of external sprinklers or drenchers is also required in buildings with adjacent boundaries that fall within a specific set distance.

I feel it is important to add that I am a firm believer in the need for high-rise housing. It is a necessary part of our towns and cities, increasingly so as we look to make the most of the limited land and resources we have. I speak out against a loss of confidence in tall buildings as a result of the Grenfell disaster. With the right standards and measures in place, they have proven a safe and effective way to address urban density.

It is, however, imperative that safety is not compromised, whether building a high-rise from scratch or adapting it for reuse. We need to ensure the highest possible standards of safety are demanded in every aspect of tall building design and construction.

The inquiry will lead to changes across the board when it comes to fire safety – from the materials used to the fire detection and evacuation strategies employed in buildings of multiple occupancy and high-rise buildings. But this could take up to two years, if not longer, and I am sceptical of whether it will go far enough in unpicking the layers and effecting the wholesale change that is needed.

As an industry, though, we can start the change now. Let’s make this the line in the sand for a fundamental change in the way we promote best practice in terms of fire safety, and let’s eliminate the culture of mere compliance or box-ticking with regards to building regulations.

The tragedy of Grenfell is so seared into our collective consciousness that I imagine it will become one of those “Where were you when?” events. But more than that, it has to be, “Where are we now?” “What did we learn from it?” “How have things changed since?” This is a chance to redeem something important out of something immeasurably tragic.

Originally posted on EG 19.07.2017

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Make Models: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Client Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust
Scale 1:100
Dimensions 750mm(l) x 200mm(w) x 550mm(h)
Time to make 1 week
Materials Laser-cut plywood and acrylic, 3D printed items
Model makers Paul Miles and Jonny Prevc

We go behind the scenes of the Make modelshop to find out how the team created one of their most impressive works to date, the 1:100 scale model of our new design for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

SMAG model

The project
In November 2016 Make won a competition to design a new home for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) in the heart of the town’s burgeoning cultural quarter, next to the Wyvern Theatre. The new building will showcase Swindon’s wide-ranging collection of artefacts, from prehistoric fossils to Roman pottery, and one of the UK’s most important collections of modern and contemporary British art. As a venue, it will engage the public with event spaces, learning centres, and galleries flexible enough to host the museum’s unique permanent collection and visiting exhibitions alike. The public realm around the building will provide a civic square and routes linking to the rest of the town centre and the Old Town.

The model
As part of the competition entry, we created a 1:100 scale model of our proposed design in a natural palette. The 3DS MAX renders were worked up in Rhino CAD modelling software, and the design was split into a series of 2D components for laser-cutting and 3D components for printing, all to be done in-house.

The 2D elements included the floorplates, core and fins, for which we used plywood, and the glazing, which we did with acrylic. These formed the structure of the model and were designed to fit together like a jigsaw, so the floorplates interlocked with the core, and the fins with the floorplates. Plywood was the material of choice as it allowed us to make the fine perforations defining the fins, and was easy to bend into the curved shape of the building’s envelope. The plinth the model sits on is a hollow box, also made from plywood, so despite its size, it’s relatively light and portable!

We 3D-printed a series of miniature display cases and artefacts that reflect SMAG’s real collection, including mannequins in costumes and a collection of typewriters, to bring the model to life. An absolute must was including a tiny replica of Apsley the gharial (a type of crocodile), the museum’s star attraction (pictured). These elements were spray-painted in copper tones to create focal points that draw people’s attention inside the model, and secured using PVA glue. We also 3D-printed all sets of stairs, the rooftop beehives, and people and trees to animate the scene and illustrate landscaping potential, both in and around the building.

One of the final touches was laser-engraving a reimagined Swindon Museum and Gallery logo, which our Graphics team designed, onto the main entrance wall.

Model on tour
The model is now with the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, where it will hopefully help them to secure the remaining funding they need to realise this new landmark for the town. Before settling there, in March 2017 the model took centre stage at the Osborne Samuel gallery in Mayfair, alongside artwork from the museum’s collection, to help raise awareness of the project.

#makemodelmonday

 

 

 

 

 

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City-making and Sadiq

 

 

Writing for Make, New London Architecture chairman Peter Murray gives us his view on how London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, might deliver the “good growth” he has promised.

 

Make partner Jason Parker recently gave a talk in the City of London’s Guildhall about development in the Square Mile and why its cluster of tall buildings is the way it is. He talked about the protected view corridors of St Paul’s Cathedral, the restrictions on building heights, the conservation areas and the composition of the towers – the maximum height of which is defined by the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority and flight paths rather than urban planners.

How will Sadiq Khan set about shaping the capital as he sits down to write new his plan?

The London Jason described is one shaped by pragmatism – a system of creating pieces of city that come about as a result of argument, enquiry, and a response to geographical, commercial and electoral pressures, rather than from a grand vision of a desirable city. In light of the growing debate about tall buildings and density in London, how will Sadiq Khan set about shaping the capital as he sits down to write new his plan?

The mayor has said that he supports the idea of London accommodating as much of its economic growth as possible, and at the same time he wants to do that without impinging on the Green Belt. Thus he will need to intensify development across the city, particularly in locations with good transport capacity. This means higher-density development and, in some cases, additional taller buildings.

In the current London Plan, large-scale development is proposed to take place in Opportunity Areas. Some of these come under a single development entity, like King’s Cross and Earls Court. Others have multiple ownership, like Nine Elms and South Quay on the Isle of Dogs. The two mayoral development corporations, for the Olympic Legacy and Old Oak Common, create masterplans with developers delivering individual sites.

As of March 2015. Opportunity Areas are London’s major source of brownfield land with development potential (eg commercial or residential) and varying levels of public transport access. Typically they can accommodate at least 5,000 jobs and 2,500 new homes, along with other supporting facilities and infrastructure. Image courtesy Mayor of London website.

King’s Cross is a good example of how masterplanning can work. The developers and their consultants produced a clear layout for the site, retaining areas of key heritage and providing locations and size of buildings with a mix of uses around the site. The plan was flexible enough to change as the economic situation changed; based on a series of sound rules, it retained a level of coherence in scale and detail. The architects of individual buildings were given freedom in developing their own palette of materials in order to create variety and interest.

By contrast, South Quay, not far from Canary Wharf on the DLR, is in multiple ownership. Each landowner jockeys for taller and taller buildings, with guidance arriving late in the day from the authorities when it seemed that the density of the area could exceed even that of Central Hong Kong. Although a masterplan has now been developed, it gives no hint as to the overall form, the townscape, of this key part of the capital.

Next door at Canary Wharf, today’s development is still recognisable in drawings made as far back as 1984. The architecture has changed over time, but the shape of the development is pretty much as planned.

In addition to Opportunity Areas, the mayor will look to develop more public land, particularly some of the 5,700 acres owned by Transport for London. Since many of the sites will be around and above stations, one can expect to see denser developments taking place in town centres across the capital. One can expect plenty of debate about whether this means more clusters of towers or lower-rise but denser developments.

How do other cities do it? Vancouver’s towers are more consistent in height and less clustered than London’s, although the location of tall buildings is similarly determined by views, in this instance of the natural landscape and geography that surround the coastal city. The strategy of creating “intense, dense neighbourhoods with short commutes” was developed by city planner Larry Beasley and dubbed Vancouverism – a key element of which is the podium block, providing an animated street scene with mixed use, green space and family homes at the base and smaller apartments in the towers.

In 1977 Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, then president of France, upset by the impact of the 210m-high Montparnasse Tower, introduced a law that banned any buildings over 10 storeys high in the centre of Paris, which has over the years become increasingly museum-like, with low economic growth. In response, mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has adopted a policy of permitting taller buildings in select locations within the central area, the first being the 180m Tour Triangle by Herzog & de Meuron. The Central Sydney Planning Strategy, meanwhile, has come up with an envelope of maximum heights created to protect the views and light of parks and places.

With the extreme pressures that London is facing to accommodate growth within a limited footprint, Khan needs to shift away from the current reactive and regulatory planning system to one that is more proactive, positive and creative if he is to provide the “good growth” he is promising in his planning consultation document A City for All Londoners. A proactive plan will give a better idea of the 3D shape of the future city than the current 2D local plans, which leave it to developers to fill in the gaps.

London’s population has grown every year since 1988, and in the last five years has grown much faster than anticipated in the 2011 London Plan. The population projections of the 2016 plan show London growing from 8.2 million in 2011 to 10.1 million in 2036. Image courtesy Mayor of London website.

Providing a clearer idea of the shape of the future city will give greater certainty to developers and communities alike; it will reassure local people about what is going up in their backyard, reduce land speculation and make development less of a gamble. The London Plan sets out where development happens and what density it might be, but gives little thought to what it is going to look like or what form it might take.

As the mayor writes his own version of the London Plan, he has the opportunity to not just say what the London of the future will contain, how many people it can accommodate and what sort of jobs they will do, but also give us an idea of what it is actually going to be like.

 

Peter Murray is the chairman of New London Architecture and The London Society, and president of the creative agency Wordsearch. A trained architect, he founded Blueprint Magazine and the London Festival of Architecture.

Article extracted from Make Annual 13.

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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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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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