Tag Archives: architecture

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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Designing in Sydney

Ian Lomas

 

 

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

 

Light and shadow

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

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

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

Render of the new Lands and Education Building

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

Render of the new Lands and Education Building

Topography and grid

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

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

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

Street view of the new Wynard Place building

Extracted from Make Annual 13.

 

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Cycle design for the workplace

Matt Bugg

 

 

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

 

Cycling on the rise

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

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

Visualisation of the new road layout at Blackfriars Junction

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

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

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

The workplace response

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

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

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

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

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

The next steps

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

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

This post has been adapted from Make Annual 12.

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Are you VReady?

Peter Greaves

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman using HTC Vive    Man using HTC Vive

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

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

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

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

Woman using VR headset

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Property’s rising stars on the future of the industry

Laura-Le-Gal
By Laura Le Gal


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

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

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

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

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

So what do the next generation think?

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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UK Employee Ownership Day 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oxley says:

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

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

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

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Completing the architecture

Tracey Wiles

 

 

Tracey Wiles reflects on the design ethos of Make’s successful and expanding interiors team.

Make is not particularly well known for its interior design, but over the last ten years the team has had the privilege of delivering fully integrated interiors for many of our buildings. We now have a growing team and an amazing portfolio of exemplar interiors projects encompassing virtually every sector, with more exciting opportunities in the pipeline – including working collaboratively for the first time with other architectural practices. We have recently been commissioned to design the interiors for two large-scale residential buildings designed by Stanton Williams for the Canary Wharf Group, encompassing more than 300 apartments – an incredibly exciting opportunity for the team!

Many architects believe they can do both interiors and architecture. This can certainly be true, but the result is only exemplary if the architect has a focused passion for interior design. Our dedicated interiors team includes both formally trained architects and interior designers, and some who are a combination of both! What we all have in common is a love of detail and a passion for carrying an architectural concept from macro to micro so that it is seamlessly integrated into a design.

We especially relish the challenge of delivering ‘turnkey’ projects, where we design, select and procure every aspect of a building. It is on these all-encompassing projects that the expertise and passion of Make’s interiors team really makes an impact. We are now working towards the possibility of realising every last detail of our buildings, both exterior and interior.

Our designs reflect our belief that the journey through a building starts as soon as it comes into view. Its context, its presence on the street, its facade and its threshold all feed directly into the interior – the hierarchy of spaces, their scale, proportions and detail. It is important to trace the steps of the end user, whether visitor, resident or employee, to fully understand their experience of transitioning through a space. We spend a great deal of time sketching, model making and mentally walking through our buildings to familiarise ourselves with the user’s journey.

Harrods Escalator Hall Private home

The interiors team does not sit in isolation in the Make studio – we are fully integrated and work alongside the project teams. Our approach is not to simply ‘plug’ interiors into buildings; instead we carefully consider scale, materials, detail, services, joinery, furniture, fittings and accessories, all under the umbrella of a strong overarching concept. We create interiors responsibly, addressing programme, servicing and maintenance, with a robust understanding of buildability. Our concepts are always unique to each individual project, addressing client, agent and market briefs and responding to a range of different budgets with solutions that range from off-the-shelf adaption to fully bespoke designs.

One of the most important crossovers between interiors and architecture is the maintainability and usability of services. We take great care to ensure that these are compatible with the intended user and that visual impact is minimised. Working as a fully integrated architecture and interiors team means we have the advantage of understanding the services from the perspective of the user, the installer and the maintenance staff.

We have become adept at using off-site modular prefabrication, which allows services to be integrated and components delivered to site fully finished. Every part of the fit-out is treated like a building component. This minimises wet trades on site, thus reducing construction programmes, the crossover of trades, wastage and defects.

Joinery is a particular passion of mine – not only its quality and craftsmanship but also its ability to define and form interior spaces and integrate services. We also consider furniture selection to be an integral part of the design process. This aspect is always of the utmost importance to the end user so we never treat it as an afterthought or a separate package, but rather as part of a holistic design ethos.

Make’s Rathbone Square development is a fantastic example of a ‘turnkey’ project that fully embodies the interiors team’s design philosophy. The detailing, materiality and expression have become a ‘red thread’ that is pulled through the scheme from beyond the site boundary into the heart of the buildings and all the way through to the apartments themselves.

The moment the user touches the bespoke entrance gate they experience a feeling of quality, permanence and longevity. The subsequent door uses a handle with a similar texture and feel and the bespoke lighting and signage are designed using the same material. These meticulously considered, high-quality details are entirely unique to the project and create an amazing journey that gives the user a sense of belonging and a strong connection to the buildings.

Rathbone Square

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The future of architecture – Andrew Taylor

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is Make partner Andrew.

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
Make Partner since 2012

Reinvention and re-engagement: that’s what I see for our built environment over the next ten years. It will be a time of celebrating the construction industry’s fluidity, of blurring the boundaries which demarcate the architect’s role, and, above all, of unprecedented levels of public engagement.

As advances in building techniques and technology continue to accelerate, the construction industry may diverge further into highly-specialised niches. Will architects be able to keep pace with these new disciplines? Will architects become overly-specialised? More than ever, we are required to be ‘jacks-of-all-trades’, because that is exactly what those who inhabit our buildings are. It’s only through a deeper understanding of the diverse users we design for that we are able to create efficient, sustainable, long-lasting and beautiful architecture.

andrew-taylor-quote-v2

If the trajectory of the past ten years continues, the mechanisms by which we learn what people think of their built environment will only intensify. The convergence of virtual and physical networks has already begun, with location-based social media and advanced spatial mapping bringing discourse on architecture into the devices we carry around. While technology vies to augment reality, the power of the built environment never ceases to diminish. There is no substitute for physical spaces which accommodate a diverse range of social interaction. Such occurrences are increasingly catalysed by technological trends and designers must harness these currents to create agile architecture.

As long as we continue to listen to who we are designing for and become more adept at following the forces which shape society, I think the next ten years will see some incredibly bold additions to our built environment.

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The future of architecture – Jet Chu

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is ex-Make partner, Jet.

Rebecca Woffenden
Jet Chu
Make Partner since 2010

China is a big country with a huge population. Lots of skyscrapers and high-rise apartment buildings are being built here at the moment and living vertically will soon be a normal way of life for many people. Because a building is such a large object and has to last for many years, it is really important how it is incorporated into the bigger picture of a community and a society. At this stage, most people in China are just paying attention to a building’s appearance, yet in the coming ten years it seems to me there are two other main areas to focus on.

The first is sustainable design and living green. People have a growing interest in and awareness of our impact on the planet and the environment. With new advancements in technology, we should actively use more natural and renewable energies in our day-to-day living, and so reduce our impact.

The second focus is that as more people move into high-rise living, it is important to think about how to rebuild a neighbourhood and a sense of community. In essence, the challenge is how can we bring the ground to the sky?jet-chu-quote

I think the future of architecture should incorporate both of these focuses – using high-tech ideas to provide a modern style of living that also minimises the impact on the environment. We are already working towards that goal but there needs to be much more force. A building is about four walls and a roof in the end. It all depends on how we use what we know to change the way we live for the better.

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The importance of post-occupancy evaluation for our future built environment

“As architects, we should care as much about our buildings after delivery as we do before.”
By Hannelore Christiaens

Many architects see the handover of a building as the final stage of their involvement in a project. At Make however, we believe that architects should not stop caring about their building at the point of delivery. Ironically, it is precisely after this point that some of the most valuable lessons about architecture and design can be learnt. An honest reflection is therefore a must: Are the users satisfied with the building? Is the building performing as well as intended? The collection of qualitative and quantitative research methods employed to answer these questions is called post-occupancy evaluation or POE, and Make has been doing this for their built projects wherever possible.

Why?

Why would an architect start from tabula rasa for each design? Verifying if a building is, indeed, working as intended would be a major contribution to an enhanced design process. The result of doing a POE can only be positive: true successes can be recognised and repeated in the future, and if certain aspects of a building do not meet expectations or if innovations are missing their targets, these will be revealed. Collecting knowledge from several projects can lead to a better understanding of comfort in general, and a better thesis to begin with once a new design project has to be initiated. Every POE will produce a particular fragment of information and by carrying out these evaluations repeatedly, this fragmented knowledge will become more and more coherent.

Lessons learnt

Project cycle

Therefore, it is not only important to have a client or user heavily involved in the design process before construction, but also for the designer to be involved with the user experience after construction, which is a phase where architects are usually left out.

Relationship between client and design team

User and design process

Practically, the lessons learnt from post-occupancy evaluations on a project can then be utilised to bring about change for that particular project and to inform future design in the following ways:

  • Intervention design: altering aspects of the building that can be changed relatively easily to increase user satisfaction (short term)
  • Renovation design: using more appropriate space divisions, materials, systems and building skins when renovating the building (medium term)
  • Future building design: problems that can’t be resolved in the current building should be avoided in future projects (long term)

POE and sustainability

POE is especially important in sustainable architecture, where it serves as a hypothesis testing for innovative projects by testing and monitoring them after completion.

Innovation and new techniques can bring unintended consequences, so it is important to see which projects are moving in the right direction.

Sustainable buildings are not just about one way of construction or combining a few techniques, we have to understand the effectiveness of sustainable design strategies in relation to context, climate, scale, type of use, user, client and city. POE can reveal why a certain technique works well on one project but fails on another by surveying actual performance, any improper usage which can cancel out environmental goals and the social and psychological effects of a building on its users. This will lead to even more successful designs with a high level of comfort. Newly built environment will therefore progressively perform better than those preceding them.

Existing standards and methods

Many kinds of POEs already exist, although they are not often used. There is not a single method which is the absolute standard, and making one ideal POE is not possible due to the unique nature of every individual project.

This adds to the complexity of implementing POEs. Quantitative and qualitative POEs, or hybrids, have been developed, covering different lifespans, techniques and processes (e.g. the Portfolio Technique incl. Probe, Soft Landings) and there are several ways of sharing knowledge (e.g. CarbonBuzz). For the projects here at Make that have been evaluated, the techniques were assessed and the appropriate method used for each case.

Cost

One of the main reasons why POE is not yet widely implemented is due to the cost. Over the long term, however, and when POE is well implemented, the benefits can be huge and definitely larger than the initial costs. A study has found the following: ‘The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory did a cost-benefit study: they found that for every dollar spent on POEs, they saved ten dollars on operating and redesign costs.’ Research Design Connections (2003)

Summary

The knowledge of how users experience a building after its delivery is an important yet often neglected source of information for architects, which stands in stark contrast to the level of interest and hard work that the architect puts into understanding the needs of the future users in the design process. POE provides this feedback and, no matter which stage of its lifecycle a building is in, the results will always be useful.

Figuratively, POE replaces the ‘blank sheet’ of the architect with transparent paper which is placed over experience, knowledge and previous successes, from which the appropriate lines can be copied. New insights are used for fine tuning new buildings, improving design for future buildings, and renovating existing buildings, leading to cost savings and a better user experience in healthy and comfortable environments.

Therefore, the sooner implementation becomes universal, the sooner the benefits will be reaped as POE takes on an increasing and, ultimately, indispensable role in the building process in the future.

Notes
Blog post based on: CHRISTIAENS, H., “Implementing post occupancy evaluation into common sustainable design practice – a reflection”, The University of Edinburgh, 2012; and sources referenced to in this paper.
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