Strategic revue: Aberystwyth
Visiting Aber today as part of an ongoing strategic revue, looking at the Arts Centre with the new director.
It's hard to avoid the Thomas Heatherwick studios which glint in the sunshine like a row of discarded sandwich wrappers.
They leak apparently, probably due to microscopic holes that appear on metal sheet when you distort it without the aid of heat. The mastic joints probably don't help much either with the weathering, but now I'm sounding bitchy.
Site Visit: North Norfolk
An afternoon of detective work looking for defective work ... Standing on a bed of barn owl pellets, looking up at the most curious of roof repairs. Rafters resembling pick up sticks scattered across the existing purlins, presumably to pick up the load where original members have rotted insitu.
Stoneywell contains three monumental slate lintels that adorn the front door and both fireplaces. Carved with initials and dates they are of such a scale to challenge the proportion and order of the rooms or thresholds they serve.
They are also finely crafted, the one to the kitchen set with a pair of polished bull horns, the other in the sitting room with a tiny ledge to receive the owner's pipe and tobacco. They are medieval in appearance, set within mannered inglenooks providing contemporary functions.
I like this property very much, and would heartily recommend you visit.
@nationaltrust @ntstoneywell #research#artsandcrafts#ruralofficeforarchitecture
Research: Ernest Gimson
A study visit to Stoneywell @nationaltrust in Leicestershire, in landscape well trod during my youth. Ernest Gimson's Arts & Crafts masterpiece, originally thatch, replaced with Swithland slate in the 1930s after an electrical fire destroyed the roof. The ever decreasing scale of tiles from eaves to ridge increased the scale of the cottage in its woodland setting (such a renaissance illusory device). The plan form a shifting rectangle embedded in bedrock at one end with monumental fireplace, to a projecting gable at the other. Some beautiful moments including the most incredible slate lintels (2 ton in weight)
Competition: Warp & Weft
Stitching together its history through interpretation & craft
Our shortlisted competition entry for Landmark Trust’s Calverley Old Hall in Yorkshire.
Calverley Old Hall is a complex place with a multi-layered history. From medieval sheep folds to mechanisation and labour laws, Calverley has laid witness to these changes and been the adapting vessel in which these processes and practises have taken place.
Calverley bears the scars of industrial change with the Great Hall adapted for storage and industry, elevations altered to provide good daylight for weaving, and spaces sub-divided to reflect the growing needs for accommodation during the industrial revolution. These scars are to be celebrated.
We proposed that LT establish a creative residency for Calverley to celebrate the diverse and important legacy that creativity and innovation has provided for the region. This residency would have been open to all creatives, be they writers, poets & playwrights, artists and makers, performers, thinkers and scientists; offering a means of mapping and interpreting the history of Calverley and to allow visitors to contemplate other people’s creative thought and output.
We considered Calverley’s industrial past and used the practice of weaving to inform the interventions; the interlacing method of fabric making, the lightweight frames of the looms and the tenterhooks and stretchers for drying fabric.
The interventions proposed for Calverley are lightweight and subtle, designed to respect the existing fabric and tread lightly in this historic place.
#CalverleyOldHall#landmarktrust#competition#ruralofficeforarchitecture#visual#cgi @landmarktrust @architectsjournal #yorkshire
Conservation: Croft Lodge Studio
I'm the lucky chap who gets to stay here for the night. Home to Kate Darby and her husband David. An innovative approach to contemporary conservation, wrapping the old with the new, preserving the past whilst providing space for the future. It's difficult to show how good this is with one image but gimmick it is not.
Context: Welsh vernacular
The two sides to the Welsh vernacular co-existing cheek by jowl. An early corrugated barn demonstrating economy of means, efficiency of structure & legacy of agricultural practice. The other a manifestation of market saturation, supply chain control and industrial scale fabrication. Both demonstrate a limitation of choice and reliance on unskilled labour.
This is the context in which we practice.
Portfolio: Rural Studio
Our second prototype is now complete. A new studio for a graphic designer. Some parts shiny, some stained, but this will settle down over the winter to a uniform finish. In this inaccessible location it's testament to the client's resolve that he's managed to cart all the materials across a raging ford and assemble by hand, with only the occasional assistance from his long suffering partner.
The interior is one celebration of plywood CNC jointing for walls, ceiling and floor, so it's no surprise that shoes are removed at the door.
Research: Grinning brickwork
My latest squeeze, Tham & Videgård's Creek house. I'm not a particular fan of the house itself, but the liberally pointed brickwork is a wonderful example of a grinning facade, historically used to cover the often poor substrate, with mortar being the dominate surface finish. In contemporary use it reminds me of Lewerentz, Hans van der Laan, or Chipperfield's Am Kupfergraben 10 gallery in Berlin, but here the colour distinction intensifies the application. For me it's the closest a building facade comes to a form of abstract painting. Hopefully we'll be using this process on a new project we're developing in the studio.
Research: Horse Power
Sometimes research takes you down various rabbit holes, when trying to understand the context and history of a particular place. We're looking at the conversion of a very large barn complex in North Norfolk and how it came to remain in use on a site that has changed beyond recognition over the past 100 years. From a labour force of 30 to just three, the farm has actually grown in scale and hectarage as the numbers that toil the land has dwindled.
This photo, actually from a US archive but relevant to the UK too, demonstrates the transition that took place from the 19th century onwards, and led in the UK to the Swing Riots amongst other labour-led revolts. Mechanisation provided efficiency of yield whilst devaluing the labour force and destabilising the communities it supported. This affected everyone, from the rich to the poor, as the transition led to the break down of a model of farming that had been in place since Medieval times, changing the tythe system of yield management and democratising elements of the agricultural process.