Tag Archives: public spaces

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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Greener Cities

by Frances Gannon

The value of green
Describing his vision of the ‘Town-Country’ Garden City, Ebenezer Howard said: “Human society and the beauty of nature are meant to be enjoyed together.” This chimes with contemporary research relating a connection to nature to people’s psychological state and social cohesion. Close proximity to nature has been linked to healthier babies, less lonely and depressed seniors, and more productive workers. Dutch researchers have investigated the value of ‘Vitamin G’, the effect of green space in the living environment on health, well-being and social safety. The Biophilia and Biourbanism movements are strengthening, asserting that humans seek connections with and gain positive feelings from ‘the rest of life’, including the whole of the natural world, be it plants, animals or the weather.

Vitamin G

Vitamin G: Visibility in a green city is just as important as direct use

Increasing densities = intense green
Accommodating an increasing population in higher density urban environments gives the opportunity to intensify the connection to nature. Rather than walking for 20 minutes through a suburban sprawl of tarmac driveways and fenced-off back gardens to reach a park, in dense urban environment accessible green places can be layered throughout. Faced with urban growth and limited land, the Singaporean Government has developed a strategy to transform Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ to a ‘City in a Garden’. This aims to raise the quality of life by creating a city that is nestled in an environment of trees, flowers, parks and rich bio-diversity. Key elements in bringing parks and green spaces right to the doorsteps of people’s homes and workplaces are: roadside greenery, planting and maintaining one million trees and creating a network of ‘park connectors’, green corridors which link between parks. Singapore is also tackling ‘vertical green’ with roof gardens and green balconies becoming the default.

Functional green
Green spaces provide a setting for relaxing or sunbathing, meeting and entertaining, walking, jogging, playing, gardening or bird-watching. In a subliminal way, walking past trees keeps us in touch with the seasons. Modern life is often disconnected from food production and there is value in re-establishing that connection: be it views of wheat fields, grazing animals, tomatoes in allotment polytunnels or lettuces growing in window boxes. Reducing suburban sprawl leaves more land available for food production, protecting that possibility for future generations and as-yet unknown challenges. Trees and planting in cities reduces air pollution and the urban ‘heat island’ effect. It reduces flooding and pressure on drainage infrastructure. Planting provides habitat for animals, birds and insects. It gives character and identity to an area and enhances local pride in the environment.

Embedded green
A wide variety of green spaces should be embedded at all scales of the city. The greater the density of the inhabitants, the more parks there should be and the closer they will be to each resident. Filling streets with trees and planted verges is an easy win in terms of visual amenity, environmental benefits and birdsong. Private individual back-gardens are the default British model for families and later life but investment needs to be made in other models in order to maximise value and relevance to a wider variety of households.

Most balconies built today are too small to be valued amenity spaces, usually home to drying washing and bikes. Making balconies large enough to be real useable ‘outdoor rooms’ with space for planting would make apartment-living immediately more appealing to a wider demographic, perhaps reducing the flight of young families to the suburbs. A simple move, such as offsetting apartment layouts on alternate floors so that a double-height outdoor space which is much more bright and airy. Built-in window boxes encourage micro-scale gardening, personal expression and character, giving visual amenity to many. Green and brown roofs play an important role in providing habitats for birds and insects, reducing water run-off, increasing insulation as well as visual amenity, without necessarily having to be accessible useable spaces.

Open space

There are many different types of open space that can be used in a dense urban setting to give residents the benefit of the vitamin G effect

Shared green
Shared private spaces, such as roof gardens or courtyard gardens are very popular in other European countries but not so common in the UK. Allotments or community gardens are being set up in neighbourhood parks and empty sites but these could also be established on roofs or in courtyards of new residential developments. Gardening, composting and play equipment, for example, can be much more effective on a scale bigger than a single household. The key is finding the size of the community where a sense of individual investment, responsibility and defensible space is maintained – easiest with a group of families perhaps. The exploration of semi-private or shared spaces can unlock many opportunities. Commercial units can also provide amenity in a city, such as a plant nursery or urban farm or café garden.

The built environment must always make way for some areas of ‘deep rooted’ green: mature trees or parkland that can become long-term habitats for plants and animals. Embedding nature at all scales and vertical levels of a building, a street and a city brings a vital connection into everyday lives.

Maximising green

Maximising green space in a dense city:
1. Juliet balcony
2. Balcony
3. Roof terrace
4. Private garden
5. Communal garden
6. Playground
7 Public square
8. Park
9. Avenues and boulevards

 

This essay was extracted from the Future Spaces Foundation report: Vital Cities not Garden Cities: the answer to the nation’s housing shortage?

 

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Outside-in

Ian Wale

 

 

 

Ian Wale describes the setting up of Make’s new landscape team.

I started working at Make in January 2014 to establish an in-house landscape team, one that would sit alongside the architects and interior designers, broadening the professional services that the practice provides. Landscape had been on Make’s agenda for a number of years and it so happened that the studio’s tenth anniversary year coincided with the implementation of the new team.

Make appealed to me personally because of its studio environment and the company ethos, as well as its incredibly diverse portfolio of projects. Make’s huge variety of clients and projects presents a fantastic opportunity to produce some great work as part of a truly integrated approach. There is always something exciting going on and it’s amazing to be a part of the company, especially as it moves into its second decade.

Having been a member of the wider consultant team on the London Wall Place development for several years before joining Make, I knew that the practice truly valued landscape. I have come to see that this approach runs deeper than just being a project-driven requirement. I have found a genuine interest in landscape and public realm at all levels. This stems from a real understanding of the value that good-quality open space can bring to buildings and the wider built environment. Because of this it has been a relatively simple transition into the Make studio.

Joining the practice has been an incredible learning curve due to the close collaboration between myself and the architectural teams within the studio. I have found it very rewarding to pass on my knowledge in what has become a really effective exchange of information. Being integrated within the studio means this happens constantly, allowing us to assimilate ideas more quickly and efficiently.

Riverside development

Riverside development

One of the main attractions for me about Make is its lack of house style – each project is approached without preconceptions. This ensures that our design proposals are fully responsive to the context, intended uses and client wishes. A consequence of this creative freedom is a constant supply of energy and enthusiasm that drives the design process forward, as well as an eagerness to investigate new materials and methods for the good of the project and the environment.

Key to our design approach is a passion for nature and wildlife. It is vital that we enhance biodiversity within our developments, particularly on inner-city sites. The challenge of providing for social and cultural uses and requirements while achieving habitat creation, is one that we thoroughly embrace at Make.

Sketching is also key to our creativity. Considerable emphasis is placed on free-hand drawing and the benefits that it brings to the design process. We use sketching throughout the life of a project, not just at the initial concept stage, for idea development, detailing and presentation. We run drawing classes within the studio and also contribute to Sketchmob, a social sketching group that runs monthly events around London.

My first twelve months at Make have been incredibly exciting and I have been involved in a wide range of projects, taking us from Basildon to Hong Kong. As part of our ongoing work with the University of Oxford, the Big Data Institute (BDI) involves the creation of a wonderful landscaped setting that includes a new arrival plaza and a woodland garden. Forming part of a wider masterplan, these spaces will play a key role in the success of the Old Road Campus.

Internal landscaping

Internal landscaping in the Big Data Institute’s atrium, University of Oxford

In the Isle of Dogs we are creating a series of new public garden spaces as part of the Meridian Gate development. Built over a new basement car park, the landscape involves the planting of a large number of semi-mature trees and the creation of dedicated play space and a boules area. Integrating sustainable urban drainage and substantial biodiversity benefits, the development will provide much-needed new open space in the heart of London’s Docklands.

Landscape2a-(c)Make

Meridian Gate landscape concept study

 

Meridian Gate landscape concept studies

Meridian Gate landscape concept study

Currently under construction, London Wall Place is about to see the creation of a striking new inner-city park. Focused around the remarkable heritage remains of the Roman City Wall and St Alphage Church tower, the new public realm creates a series of gardens that will become a new destination within the City of London.

We are hugely excited about the future of Make’s landscape architecture team. The first year has been great fun, seeing landscape become an integrated part of the studio and contributing to a fantastic portfolio of projects. We aim to continue this great work, and also look to follow the success of Make’s interiors team by engaging with other architectural practices. By combining bold design with a balanced approach to social and cultural needs, biodiversity and the environment to create places in which we can all take pride, we hope to establish landscape architecture as a valued design service in its own right.

Find out more about Meridian Gate or London Wall Place on the Make website.
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The socio-economic value of people focused cities

By John Prevc

Cities throughout the world are locked in battle with each other as they try to attract capital investment from both private and public funders. Their focus is to try and attract new jobs and they are happy to entertain both the well-established and the new start-up businesses to help kick start their generally static economies.

Significant financial incentives from both local and national governments tend to be the biggest deal makers, but as businesses try and attract the best people, the quality of the city’s built environment is seen more and more as a significant factor in this extremely competitive decision-making process. This has meant that the role of urban designers and architects has grown significantly over the last ten years. They are seen as being the people who are best able to refresh a city through sometimes small interventions which can really help to change people’s perception and therefore help attract investors.

Very much linked to economic investment is the real opportunity of repairing the social ills that seem to ravage certain areas of our inner cities. If we are to design socially cohesive, well-used, popular cities we need to better understand the relationship between streets and spaces, and the buildings that form their edges.

Public spaces 1 Public spaces 2 Public spaces 3

Public spaces can often feel anonymous – nothing more than connections between buildings. They should, however, be places of substance which add to the interest and excitement of city life. If designed well, they can instil a sense of ownership, pride and wellbeing, as well as promote economic growth. If designed badly, they can produce ghettoes, social tension and communities which may well fail.

The role played by buildings cannot be underestimated; their uses, especially at ground floor level, are critical in defining the nature of the spaces they spill on to. The edges between inside and outside spaces are often where much of city life is to be found; the broader the edge, the better the relationship between the building and the public realm.

Urban edges have a number of characteristics; they have different “thicknesses” relating to their level of accessibility, both physical and visual; they can be external or internal spaces, or both – such as shops, cafes and markets; their use and character can change depending on the time of day, the day of the week, the season and the weather. An appreciation of both the context and the culture of the place in which the edge exists will better ensure the success of the urban realm and the community which occupies it.

Successful cities operate at a very simple level. They need to take the ultimate building block which determines scale, the human being, and measure life accordingly. Having successfully attracted new businesses into our cities, the real challenge then is to have them stay and expand and attract others to join them. I believe that the quality of the public realm and its interface with the buildings that enclose it is so incredibly significant in the success of city economies that if it were to fail, the city would ultimately fail too.

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