Design Life

architectural design, architecture, Interior Design, working

Some musings as I navigate the design world, suffer the post pandemic lack of wood (!) and continue my design adventures

I am already working on hospitality designs in the tourism sector, and designing holiday homes for Urban Blossom who are a luxury brand and deliver quite different buildings to the norm. This has been a long journey but very rewarding. I had free rein to design, and they are alll based on natural shapes. In terms of construction, they are very challenging and I am sure I have had people cursing me secretly when I deliver the designs for fabrication. But hey, what else is a structural engineer for!!! Given that I am not an architect but have trained as an Interior Designer, they have been a steep learning curve, and I have a wonderful technical team who can realise the designs practically.

One of my first designs I created for them is being built in the Lake District as I type, and is is surreal to see something initially doodled on paper turning into a real-life (and actually quite huge) building. This shape was based on a dried seed head I found, and from there it became an octagonal two storey building encased in an exo-skelton of curving struts.

‘The Bud’ Concept Design

The client wanted this external shape of The Bud, but with footprint of another Urban Blossom building I designed which is larger. So they will have an additional roof terrace area on the top. This structure is going to be placed adjacent to a huge natural swimming pool/lake, so you can exit the building onto a jetty and jump straight into the water. I am so excited to see it all when it ifs finally completed, but for now it is a building site.

Here are the construction crew at work as it starts.

It is mainly made from extruded structural recycled glass which is carbon positive, fireproof, lightweight and recyclable. This new materials had to go through structural testing and accreditation as a building material for use, so it is very exciting to be able to use it and is a forward-thinking material for future builds. All of that glass that people recycle religiously tends to actually end up in landfill, so this material takes it and repurposes it for a much better use.

In addition I am designing some lodges for a hospitality group to be sited in Yorkshire, construction starts this year. These adhere to Caravan Act parameters so they are modular, built offsite in sections, a set width and can be sat on a chassis (which you can hide in a pit or cover with surrounding decking). I wanted to get far away from the whole aesthetic of what people expect from a caravan. No plastic exterior/interiors, and using beautiful architectural materials such as seam wrapped aluminium and natural wood. These designs should change perceptions of holiday living and caravans. Here is a concept sketch.

Hospitality design is definitely my main passion. I have also been speaking to some of the most respectable and creative Design Studios who concentrate more on the hotels/restaurant sector for potential work. However, I am a bit of an anomaly I think as I am not the typical recent grad for a Junior Designer, but I don’t have years of experience in a studio setting to make me Middleweight Level. So I am getting a lot of ‘you will get bored & leave’ and ‘we are not sure where you will fit’ comments, which is definitely not true as there is always more to learn and absorb. The idea of growing within an existing studio is very attractive, as that spin-off from other designers and architects is something which I think really helps the design process. At the moment it is just me in my little studio on my lonesome, which can be very quiet!

More pictures to come on the build as it happens. Meanwhile I think those workers need some sunscreen delivered as it was boiling hot this week and they have no shade..

Final Major Project Underway

architectural design, architecture, Art, Interior Design, university

I am now in my third year at Uni, (time has flown by so fast, I cannot quite believe it), and I am now working on my FMP. The site I chose to design is the Arnolfini mixed use building in Bristol, and I am re-imagining it as a new Art Gallery, using all of the space and reconfiguring the internal floors and roof areas.

This has been a really intense project so far, the scale of the building is vast and there are so many elements to consider. I made a sort of shopping list to remind myself of what I need to do / add/ remove and it grows daily as I work through the project.

My inspiration for the design comes from several areas; the building is set on the edge of the floating harbour and I loved the reflections of it in the water. From these I have designed panels and balustrading to use in the site.

The stonework on the building is beautiful, they have what is called vermicular rustication on the stone and I love the way the light plays on it. Taking negative shadows from the stone I have cast light through them. These also influenced the balustrading patterns.

The building was built originally to store tea in the booming trade in the 1830’s and which was expected to be stored in Bristol, but by the time it was completed, the tea trade had moved to London. Known as Bush House, the site became an iron foundry and then a bonded warehouse. Research into this trade has given me lots of ideas, especially using the pattern of shipping lines used for the original intention of Bush House.

Tea Trade Route Lines

These lines will be manipulated into design ideas within the site.

I have had some great finds in my research, done a poll with local residents and had interviews with curator/gallery head experts like Sir Nicholas Serota, Sir Nicholas Penny & Patrick Elliot who have helped me realise what is needed in such a large gallery to make it successful. I will post more as I go…

Dom-Ino House Project

architectural design, architecture, Interior Design, interiors, site survey

 

wide with antique backgroundThis brief was to design a second home for the installation artist Olafur Eliasson.  The site is situated at the top of a tranquil gully in the Avon Gorge with a steep drop off, and amazing views down to the River Avon.  Having lived in and around Bristol for many years, I had no idea that this secret place existed, and took the theme of secrecy as a key inspiration for the project.  The house architecturally is based on Le Corbusier’s Dom-Ino house structure – slab walls, pilotis columns and a staircase.  This allows for multiple choices as to where walls and windows can be placed.

final elevation 1 tinted vs 2

My client is known for his works with light, colour and creating new perceptions of views, so this was all considered in the design of the home.  I wanted to create a space for him that is a live/work studio, with distinctive private and public spaces.  Eliasson is half Icelandic, so this is referenced as well in the use of turf on the roof of the house – a nod to the ancient Icelandic buried hill houses.

Post Crit front house with shadows fade out white copy 2

The design embeds the house into the cliff, so that from the northern approach you do not even know there is a house there.  It is only when you are standing on top of the roof that you realise there is a staircase descending into the house.  There is a 1m meter space around the house within the carved out space in the cliff,  so it lets light fall from pierced walkways above and feed natural light into the house.

house sunk in hill 1 smaller file

My client is passionate about ecology and sustainability, so external building materials used in the house include rammed earth walls, hempcrete, recycled glass and turf.  Then structure is concrete, but uses the most ecologically available mixture made from 70% recycled slag furnace waste.

The entrance into the house is by moving down the stairwell, these have a pierced wall system designed to create spots of light in the sunshine which move across the space as the sun moves overhead.  Mirrored stainless steel walls create strong reflections and further bounce light through the stairwell.

STAIRS and woman

The studio space is on the first floor and is open plan, with a kitchen area concealed behind sliding doors.  A ceiling grid allows for maquettes to be hung up out of the way.  The furniture is all on castors so the room can be reconfigured as an office / studio / dining room /exhibition space.  An oculus window was designed to distort the view looking in and out into the gully.  Along the mainly glazed south facing wall are a system of internal glass sliding panels in colours which can be moved to create new perspectives and views of the valley beyond.

Studio Visualisation

oculus lite

The floor below is a personal space for my client where he can relax and sleep.  A large balcony creates an exterior entertaining space with a system of textural glass screens.  The interior is a neutral and calm space with natural textures.  A fireplace pierces the wall so it can be accessed both inside and outside.

SITTING ROOM BEST SMALLER copybedroom BEST copy SMALLER

The final level is a secret place that only my client can access. An internal jib door is concealed behind a bookcase, and opens to reveal stairs leading to a sub level.  This is open air, but protected from wind and rain by the house above it.  Pilotis were raised to 2m to create this space.  Here my client has an outdoor kitchen, decks, a dance floor (he was the Swedish champion in breakdancing for 2 years running!), and a luxurious wood fired Swedish hot tub so he can use it all year round and enjoy the views.

house front very paled out copy low res

Finished Model-ALL PLANS

This project entailed the learning of CAD for the first time, and material testing with fabrication of glass, concrete, hempcrete and rammed earth samples.