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How architecture can help to heal

Back in 2013, the New York Times published an article called “Designing for Calm”, which focused on efforts to reduce violence in psychiatric hospitals. They argued that a prominent goal should be to reduce stress for patients, which in turn would lead to less aggression and violence.

Fast forward five years and various studies have shown that architecture, through elements like space, light, geometry and materials, can have an impact on our mood. If nothing else, this reinforces our belief as architects that buildings should always be designed, first and foremost, around their occupants.

Some of the key areas that can affect mood and help to heal include:

Natural light

The use of natural light in buildings can lead to energy savings, provide a more enjoyable space and also give a sense of a larger space. This can be achieved through the use of glazing, doors and roof-lights to ensure that rooms are well lit.

Natural daylight also gives us Vitamin D, a lack of which can lead to depression, obesity and other health problems. Get it right and natural daylight has been shown to improve mood, increase productivity and focus and also psychological wellbeing.

Our Lilly Bank Lodge project placed an emphasis on natural daylight – “The innovative double storey modern extension includes a large area of glazing on the ground floor, which satisfies the 21st century desire for light-filled housing. It brings light deep into the rooms and allows views across the beautiful gardens.”

Versatile spaces

Multi-purpose spaces are another significant area in which architecture can influence and affect your mood. Allowing people to interpret a space for themselves allows for a greater sense of control. The example given in the 2013 article – “Providing day rooms and other shared spaces with movable seating, for example, gives patients the ability to control their personal space and interactions with others.”

“Good designs are where it is not dictated to the individual how they should perceive, operate or feel in the building, but have the flexibility to explore and experience it for themselves,” says Dr Marialena Nikolopoulou, from the School of Architecture at the University of Kent.

Textures

The use of texture in architecture is nothing new. Textures and patterns have long been used to create unique experiences for building occupants. Texture plays a dual role in architecture: it expresses something of the quality of materials, and it gives a particular quality to light.

It is rare to find a single texture used in a building. For example, different carpet textures in a room can help create sections, allowing more versatility in a space.

In our ‘Wycliffe Nursing home’ project for Leicester based charity, Vista, we used materials to create different zones to help dementia patients. Zones included a reading area, memory wall and cinema /tv area etc.

Volume

Excessive noise can produce stress, so as architects we try to reduce this. The choice of materials, as well as the shape of a room can have huge impacts on the amount of noise produced. For example, the use of heavy carpet and soft furnishings can help dampen sound transfer.

Our Gaulby Lodge and Rose Retreat projects involved large volumes in various rooms and also the entrance areas.

Do you need the help with architectural design?

Get in touch with one of our team today to discuss your project and find out how we can help. Call us on 0116 251 0606 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you.

Planning Permission | Your Questions Answered

What is it?

Planning permission refers to the need for “formal permission from a local authority for the erection or alteration of buildings or similar development.”

It is your responsibility to seek planning permission and if required, it should be granted before any work begins.

When do you need it?

Chances are, you’ll need planning permission if you want to any of the following:

  • build something new;
  • make a major change to your building – for example, building an extension;
  • change the use of your building – for example, from a commercial to a residential building or vice-versa.

In some cases, planning permission isn’t required – these types of works are known as ‘Permitted Development’. You can find out more about permitted development here.

If you’re unsure whether or not you need planning permission, it’s a good idea to contact someone who can advise you. This could be your local authority (or an architect!).

How do you get it?

Planning applications are usually made online these days and can be submitted through the Planning Portal.

It is usually a good idea to seek advice on your plans before submitting an application. Gaining valuable advice can:

  • reduce the likelihood of your plans being rejected;
  • help you to understand the process;
  • help you to understand how planning policies and other requirements might affect your application.

Planning permission can be granted in different forms and it is important that you apply for the correct consent, otherwise you risk your application being invalid.

What do I need to submit?

As part of your application for planning permission, you will need to submit:

  • Plans of the site;
  • Supporting documentation;
  • A completed application form;
  • The correct fee (depends on the type of planning permission you are asking for).

A combination of mandatory documents will be required – some are a national level requirement and others are local.

What happens after I’ve submitted my application?

Once you’ve submitted an application, it is up to the local authority to review it. They may contact you for further information if they need it.

Do you need help with a planning application?

Get in touch with one of our team today to discuss your project and find out how we can help. Call us on 0116 251 0606 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you.

Designing for the visually impaired

Design Studio Architects have recently selected ‘Vista’ as its charity of the year, and thus our most recent blog has been inspired by this.

Currently almost two million UK residents live with sight loss, equating to approximately 1 in 30 people. Disturbingly these figures are set to rise, for example by 2020 the number will rise to 2,250,000 and by 2050 records will double to 4 million. The underlying causes being, an ageing population and an increasing number of obesity and diabetes diagnoses. Despite these high statistics there is little evidence of architectural firms or individuals in the UK specializing in designing for the visually impaired. As a firm we feel it imperative that architects start to focus on these issues, and have thus started evaluating cost effective solutions to meet these growing needs.

If you imagine being blind, perhaps you imagine total darkness. But for a large majority of people this is not always the case, instead they see varying shades of light and shadowing. Chris Downey, an architect who lost his sight aged 45, considers light a “poetic part of architecture that brings space to life”. Already Downey and a small minority of American architects have started to create large healthcare, transportation and residential schemes focused equivocally on benefiting blind people. Now we need to consider how to make this possible within the UK.

TESTFIGURE 1: Conceptual image of light bright life to a space 

A logical layout is one of the most important aspects of designing a building suited to the needs of visually impaired people, many of whom use their memory to navigate around a building. By keeping the design logical and simple independent navigation can be made significantly easier.  An example of this would be locating toilets near a dining area or main reception area. Additionally it is important for spaces to incorporate as few obstructions as possible but to also ‘break up’ large areas seen as intimidating to people who struggle to see ‘landmarks’ within a space. To solve this difficulty we could make spaces seem more manageable by using partitioning and furniture to establish clear pathways and rectangular areas. Creating tactile pathways can also help people maintain direction, for example, a ‘red carpet’ or ‘yellow brick road’ leading directly to the reception desk is an enormous aid to visually impaired people.

 

Carly 2

Figure 2: ‘yellow brick road’ leading to the building’s functions

Lighting is an equally important aspect of designing buildings for people with sight difficulties as they require on average three times the amount of light required by the sighted population.Therefore it is considered beneficial to have brighter lighting at building entrances to enable eye adjustment from the bright outdoors to the artificial indoor lighting. Additionally the quality of lighting is of equal importance to the quantity. It is imperative that general room lighting is evenly distributed, and glare free with all fittings covered by diffusers.  Similarly natural daylight should be diffused so it doesn’t cause direct or indirect glare. Ways in which we could do this include utilizing external awnings, vertical blinds, and window tinting.Alternatively to aid visually impaired people,emphasis on the room’s function, or destination with supplementary lighting such as spot lighting could be utilized. However it must also be remembered that placing light fittings at or below eye level would present a direct glare inhibiting vision.

The use of contrast is also considered important when designing for visually impaired people. Luminance contrast is preferred to colour contrast as it offers light/dark variances that are picked up more easily by people with low vision. In effect this aids people to locate important aspects of a building such as doorways, signs, handrails and most importantly hazards such as edges of steps. Subsequently contrasting textures can also be helpful, with tactile ground surface indicators commonly seen on
the edges of railway platforms.Furthermore when choosing materials for flooring a slip resistant matt is a preferred choice compared to highly reflective surfaces or ‘busy’ colourful floor patterns which disorient people with low vision.

It has been suggested the internal acoustics of a building should be considered when designing for visually impaired people. When negotiating a building, people with low vision gain important information from the environmental sounds around them. For example they are able to orientate themselves by using the sound of their cane as it makes contact with surfaces. Intrusive levels of background noise however can make interaction with others and orientation more difficult. Buildings with sound-reflective surfaces may require sound dampeners like carpets, curtains, and ceiling tiles to reduce noise levels. Care must be taken however, not to completely ‘deaden’ the sound within a building with the over-use of sound dampeners. Therefore buildings should contain a balance between sound-reflecting and sound-absorbing surfaces.

Design Studio Architects intend to spend the next 12 months gaining more knowledge of all the key issues that visually impaired people deal with on a daily basis. We aim and look forward to working alongside Vista in improving people’s lives through cost effective solutions incorporated in our design process.

Gift Ideas for Architects

Whether you can’t wait for Christmas or you’re a modern day Ebeneezer Scrooge, the time of year has arrived for you to dedicate much of your time – and more often than not, hard earned cash – on deciphering Christmas lists and buying presents for the closest people in your life. In the unfortunate circumstance that one of these people happens to be an architect (or architectural student for that matter!) you know how much of a nightmare this process can be!

Architects are seen as elusive, mysterious people; up all hours, talking in technical jargon and with an –bordering on obsessive- eye for detail and quality, which makes buying presents for these characters even harder to buy for. Below, the staff here at Design Studio Architects have put together a list of some of the most interesting and inventive gifts to make Santa that little bit less stressed this Christmas:

 

  1. Wacom Inkling

wacom inkling

www.Amazon.com – £94.22

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wacom-MDP-123-DE-Ultrasound-Infrared-Capability/dp/B005M292NM

 

The Wacom Inkling is an amazing little device that you can clip onto a notebook to capture your notes or drawings. This gadget comes with a ballpoint pen (although a very fancy one) that incorperates a digital transmitter which interacts with the base receiver  on the paper to record all of your penstrokes. These penstrokes are then converted into a digital linework that can be edited in most editing suites.

  1. Portabee GO

Portabee GO

www.Portabee3dprinter.com – $595

http://portabee3dprinter.com/shop/portabee-go/

 

Introducing the new Portabee digital printer!

This 3d printer comes in a small form with an outer of milled aluminium. The most amazing part about this little machine is that it’s completely portable, self – containing and self – levelling! To use, you simply remove it from its cover, twist the arm into position, hand tighten it into place and let it work out the horizontal for itself! No more altering the bed angle and awkward changing and tightening of multiple parts. Its limits are your own creativity!

  1. Leap Motion

leap motion

www.leapmotion.com€89.99

https://www.leapmotion.com/product

 

Ever wanted to feel like tony stark? Be able to pick up digital objects in the virtual world with your own physical hands? Or do you just fancy playing virtual tetris?

Leap motion has entered V2; with better programming and more fluid application, the Leap Motion tracks your hand and converts the movement of external objects into digital movement on your computer, this can be used for flying around in google maps or real work implications like handling 3d objects in Autodesk programmes such as Maya.

  1. Magicplan App

magic plan 1magic plan 2

Android & Apple Appstore – free!

http://www.floorplanner.com/magicplan

 

Magicplan is developing quickly and the idea behind it is a sound one. By standing in the centre of a room and taking photos of the corners and door openings your phone can draw a rough plan of a room in a few minutes. Combined with a laser measurer you can produce incredibly accurate plans in exceptionally quick times.

 

  1. 5.       Ostrichpillow

ostrich pillow

www.Studiobananathings.com  £65

http://www.studiobananathings.com/product/ostrich-pillow/?lang=en

 

You know the scenario: Huge project, no time. The makers of the Ostrichpillow have decided to make your nights in the studio somewhat more comfortable. At the point at which you need to –metaphorically- stick your head in the ground and wish the world away, this gift will be a godsend. With openings for your head and hands, the pillow gives you a place to catch up with some sleep when you don’t have a bed around.

  1. XS – Big ideas, Small Buildings

XS

www.amazon.com  £15

http://www.amazon.co.uk/XS-Big-Ideas-Small-Buildings/dp/0500341818/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1416412375&sr=8-3&keywords=xs+buildings The world needs to read more books. This book is one of a series by Phyllis Richardson and Lucas Dietrich on – you guessed it – small buildings. This books explains the theories and concepts behind some these beautifully designed spaces from Thomas Heatherwicks sitooterie to a cantilevered pod in the Alps.

 

  1. Black Turtle Neck

black turtleneck

www.Topman.com  – £14

http://www.topman.com/en/tmuk/product/clothing-140502/mens-jumpers-cardigans-140513/black-jersey-roll-neck-jumper-3557131?bi=1&ps=20

 

The black turtleneck is synonymous with the designer. No one knows why. Rem Koolhaas wore a black turtle neck, Steve Jobs wore a Black turtleneck. I want a black turtleneck. To complete the look grab yourself some circular or keyhole glasses and you’re in business.

 

  1. 5x5x5 rubics cube

rubiks 5x5

www.rubiks.com  – £19.99

http://uk.rubiks.com/store/category/5×5

So you think you’re good at solving puzzles? Maybe you’re a Rubik’s cube king? You should try the 5x5x5 Rubik’s cube for that extra mental test.  Like the original, only harder.

  1. Steep  – TBA

steep coffemug

http://canisterdesignco.com/steep/

 

This handy little mug is as beautiful in aesthetics as its purpose: to keep your hot drink of choice warm. An all ceramic mug with a hand dipped glaze, the Steep won’t make your tea taste strange like other metallic flasks. And with a screw on top, even when you get called out on a survey, you can take your drink in a container as classy as unique as you feel.

  1. Senz Smart Umbrella

senz umbrella

www.amazon.com – £24.95

http://www.amazon.co.uk/senz%C2%B0-Smart-Umbrella-Black-black/dp/B007PZH182/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416411191&sr=8-1&keywords=senz+umbrella

 

Whether you’re out on a survey or just walking to work; when it starts raining the worst thing that can happen is the wind picking up and breaking your barrier to the elements. The slick Senz umbrella is windproof up to 70mph, will never go in-side out and with strengthened, silver ABS and Evafoam grip, the handle will be as sturdy and the canopy.

Joe Jeacock,

On behalf of Design Studio Architects.

www.designstudioarchitects.co.uk

Contact telephone number:

0116 2510 606

The Impact Of 3D Printing On The Architectural Industry (Part II)

What Impact Could 3D Printing Have On The Architect?

The job of Architect has remained a popular, albeit underpaid profession over the years whilst skilled tradesmen such as carpenters and stonemasons have dwindled in numbers. A study of over 300,000 small businesses by Simply Business indicate that, the number of joiners has dropped by around 17 percent in the last three years and “Numerous other trades such as builders, carpenters and painter/decorators, have also seen their numbers decrease”, (Simply Business, 2013).

This depreciation is largely due to the increased speed and mass scale at which items, such as furniture, can be produced using automated machinery. Large companies, such as Ikea are able to afford large scale manufacturing equipment allowing them to mass produce flat pack furniture which is easy to assemble and a fraction of the cost of what a carpenter might charge for his work.

Architect, NeriOxman argues that 3D printing could give power back to the trades people providing them with the ability to compete with the mass production capabilities of large companies, “craft meets the machine in rapid fabrication…we can generate craft with the help of technology”(Oxman, 2013).

As noble as Oxman’s views are if we consider her argument in relation to the development of 3D printing within architecture, rather than, ‘generating craft with … technology’, she is actually striving for a technological takeover which could see the destruction of architectural ‘craft’.

Unfortunately, rather than giving any form of craft back to the architect, there is a risk that automation may cause the job of the architect to go much the same way of the carpenter. When machines like Bertram’s are common place within the architectural industry, they will be able to mass produce buildings in much the same way Ikea mass produces furniture.

There is already a demand for cheap efficient housing. If construction firms like Mansell bought enough of Sebastian Bertram’s Contour Crafter’s (CC), and started their own housing construction companies, this could put the role of the architect under threat. In theory, a company could hire its own small team of architects or designers who could then produce 3D models of housing designs which could be sent to the companies CC machines for printing on site. Taking advantage of the massively reduced labour costs and rapid fabrication attributed to the use of Contour Crafters, companies could drive the price of houses down so low that an architect could simply not afford to compete. This is the antithesis of what Oxman was trying to argue in the first place.

Despite its many limitations, the rapid nature of this new construction process does create numerous opportunities for architects, especially in attempting to solve the global problem of a lack of social housing. It has already been identified that CC’s like Bertram’s can mass produce housing very quickly, and due to the lack of labour involved, at a cost which is affordable to be used as social housing.

Being able to produce structural, efficient houses in days rather than months or years would hugely benefit those without homes. This could be as simple as helping the social housing problem faced by those in the UK or it could be the answer to more complex issues such as, providing quick accommodation to victims of natural disasters.

Throughout history, every manufacturing industry to date has seen automated machinery revolutionise their trade. Now, thanks to pioneers like Sebastian Bertram, it’s the architectural industries turn to face the revolution.

The Impact Of 3D Printing On The Architectural Industry (Part I)

Introduction To 3D Printing Within The Industry.

Since the industrial revolution the world’s industry has been racing toward a future of complete automation from the creation of the conveyor belt system through to the introduction of robotics into vehicle manufacture.

1

With automated machinery dominating almost every modern manufacturing process, pioneers in automated design have spent the last 3 decades developing and refining the “3D Printer”, a device which would allow any object to be printed from whatever material is inputted in the machine.

2

Until recently, the construction industry has been dominated by tooling machines that drill or cut away material to create standardised elements such as PVC windows and doors. This is a subtractive process rather like a sculptor might carve a statue out a solid piece of marble. Building construction should be a more human process of building up blocks to create a space designed by an architect. Whilst using standardised elements may have sped up the construction industry, it has limited architect’s scope for design, creating catalogues of elements which are easier and cheaper to choose from than to design bespoke.

3D printing is a form of ‘additive manufacturing’, adding materials together in a layer system, which differs greatly from traditional ‘subtractive’ manufacturing techniques allowing architects to be far more creative in their design whilst still achieving the same cheap build cost, and even quicker construction time than if they had used standardised materials.

How Could 3D Printers Be Used Within Architecture?

In the future, 3D printing technologies could allow architects to “bypass time consuming pre-production stages by fabricating physical models from the data within a ‘solid-model’ CAD file” (Callicott, 2001). Rather than spending hours reproducing models of building designs, 3D printers would allow quick fabrication of scaled down models, precise to the specification of the technical drawings. Having been translated from architectural drawings, the level of detail within the physical models would make it far easier for the architects to identify what worked within the building’s design and what did not. Furthermore, since a 3D printed model would be a purely scaled down fabrication of 3D CAD drawings the same drawings could potentially be printed at 1:1 scale to construct an entire building.

3

The ability to print buildings at 1:1 may sound fraught with difficulties but German designer, Sebastian Bertram, believes he has managed to design a 3D printer, combined with robotics, which has the ability to print buildings out of concrete. “The robot “prints” contours of a building shell layer by layer using fast-drying concrete. Within just a couple of weeks, an entire estate could be produced” (Turner, 2012). Bertram’s machines have been dubbed ‘contour crafters’ as they ‘print contours’ of buildings as opposed to layers of objects. The project itself is named “One house a day” (Dehue, 2012), The diagram below displays stills taken from a video created by Mr Bertram outlining the way his Contour Crafters will eventually work.

4

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part V

New National Stadium © ZHA

 Finally we’ve come to the last part of the “What is ‘Architectural Identity?'” series. Having already looked at: aesthetics, function, historic/urban context and human impact, we look towards the last sub-topic on the subject, representation. Now this sub-topic is probably the most debatable category out of the previous categories we’ve touched on. Reason behind this? Opinions. Everyone has one. Sometimes people will agree on one thing whilst others will disagree completely or to a certain extent. Architecture isn’t immune to such subjective opinions, whether it is praise or criticism. A large part of architecture is not just to create inhabitable space in where we may co-exist with each other and our surroundings, not just how the building looks or works, but also what the building is suppose to ’embody’. This is where various factors come in to play, from architectural style to construction, contextual and social impact.  How a building is portrayed in its essence is the best way to describe how it is represented. If we look back one more time to Zaha Hadid’s design for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for the 2020 Olympics.

What is the stadium itself suppose to represent? What did Zaha Hadid and her architectural studio have in mind when designing the stadium? According to Dezeen, she states “The stadium will become an integral part of Tokyo’s urban fabric, directly engaging with the surrounding cityscape to connect and carve the elegant forms of the design…our three decades of research into Japanese architecture and urbanism is evident in our winning design and we greatly look forward to building the new National Stadium”. Project director of the proposal, Jim Heverin mentions the concept of the stadium: “The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won’t be authorship, there won’t be an authentic voice behind it….you get that in all good buildings, all good pieces of design. I don’t think [the design] is something that you can decide by committee….what we see in Japan is both innovation and craftsmanship, both together is what people have always liked about Japan.” he told Kyodo News (via InsideTheGames.biz).  

zaha-hadid-new-national-stadium-of-japan-venue-for-tokyo-2020-olympics-designboom-01
Stadium in the existing context © ZHA

Walkthrough video of the stadium proposal on Youtube

 

Whilst talking to Kyodo News, Heverin continues: “We’ve tried to continue the park through the Stadium as a walk….at the moment you can’t walk across the site but this walkway and the concourse will allow you to walk through the site and run through the Stadium and this way it will become, hopefully, part of the park.” He goes on to say: “The most important thing is how it feels for the people…that it’s not some object that just dominates in the background. I think if we succeed in the fact that its open and it has this continuity, then I really think that this will be seen as a vibrant addition to the area. You have a real potential for all of this to act as a more active sports hub area.” With that in mind, you can begin to see that the big hope for this structure is that it not only becomes a hotspot attraction, not only to become a premier sporting hub, not to only harmoniously co-exist with the existing landscape but to become a long-standing, iconic legacy, something the people of Japan will be proud to call their own, now and years from now.  The inter-galactic structure does boast the personality of the nation, Japan’s unabashed craziness, their pioneering goals in innovative technologies and discoveries, creating a sense of presence and impact, in the daily lives of the public, as well as creating a popular tourist destination for the city. The issue of people is a big thing in Japan, with their satisfactory to decent standards of quality living, their large aging populace, with the varied mix of families and single individuals, the need to create a place that is made accessible and usable for everyone is critical. It’s important that this structure will not only be just the embodiment of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, even though the Olympic brand must be represented in the highest regard. It will need to be the perfect embodiment of the host country and its citizens. When Tokyo takes to the world stage, the whole world will be watching. Representation is key.

Some examples varied architectural representations include: the timeless Greek Parthenon, the historical enriched Hagia Sophia, the ‘poster-boy’ of American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest work: Fallingwater, the architectural brand infusion of Burberry (Chicago) and the soon to be finished the One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower) at Ground Zero.

 

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org

Name: The Parthenon

Location:  Athens, Greece

Architects/Designers: Ictinus, Callicrates/Phidias

Date:  447 BC-438 BC

 

Picture source: http://annoyzview.files.wordpress.com
Picture source: http://annoyzview.files.wordpress.com

Name: Hagia Sophia

Location:  Istanbul, Turkey

Architects: N/A

Date:  532 – 537

 

Picture source: http://ayay.co.uk/
Picture source: http://ayay.co.uk/

Name: Fallingwater

Location:  Pennsylvania, USA

Architects: Frank Lloyd Wright

Date:  1936-39

 

Picture source: http://www.azahner.com/
Picture source: http://www.azahner.com/

Name: Burberry Chicago

Location:  Chicago, USA

Architects: Burberry & Callison

Date:  2011-12

 

Picture source: http://www.wbrz.com
Picture source: http://www.wbrz.com

Name: One World Trade Centre

Location:  New York City, USA

Architects: Daniel Libeskind, David Childs

Date:  2006-14

 

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part IV

Stadium interior © minmud

 

Architecture has one main purpose and one only, to serve the needs of man. This could take on different forms, from the typical residential homes of individuals and families, office towers for businesses and corporations, shops for services and goods and so on. The point of architecture is to create inhabitable spaces for which can be occupied for whatever its main use is. How a building impacts an individual or a number of people depends on it as a whole, how does it work? How does it look? How long will it last? How does it improve my life? All these questions and more can greatly influence how a building is designed, constructed, funded, ultimately it can influence the very lifespan of a project, from concept design to completion. Looking towards the Tokyo Olympic 2020 stadium, how will it impact the general public? How will it affect the local residents, the city and the world in the long-run?

The stadium proposal seems adamant on making the building more flexible beyond the Olympic events, creating a venue that is more people-friendly and engaging, that can host various artistic and cultural events as well as benefiting the local district, the city and by extension, the country. With the built-in exhibition centre (a la Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion style), the stadium proposal tries to be more than just a sporting stadium, that it can adapt to the times and various possible functions. No doubt when the structure is completed that it will look stupendous and extravagant. Will it outshine the previous stadiums and ceremonies? Most definitely. With the whole Olympic festivities will bring to Japan a wealth of economic income and several hundreds of thousands tourists in.  The memorable event will give Japan the biggest global sporting competition stage (ignoring the FIFA World Cup), grabbing the world’s attention. The human factor when dealing with the Olympics is almost indescribable. Being there physically and taking part in the festivities and sporting events creates memorable moments in people, both local and visiting. Architecture, which has over the years been not just design, but also a form of communication and narrative in society, shaping our urban landscapes, defining our society in ways that are obvious and oblivious to us. Buildings have a way of becoming a small or big part of our lives, whether its somewhere we visited on holiday and remember fondly, a place where we first met our spouses, the first family home where all the kids grew up in, the same bar we go to every Friday night with our friends, whatever the situation, buildings tend to touch and influence us in the most peculiar ways sometimes.

Will Zaha Hadid’s proposal be a positive impact on the populace, not just during the Olympics but more importantly, afterwards? How will the legacy of the Games affect people 5, 10, 20 years after? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, examples of buildings that have that ‘human impact’ factor include: the wonderfully vivid and artsy Parc Guell, the botanic paradise that is known as the Gardens by the Bay, the highest of the high monolith Burj Khalifa, France’s most recognised structure, the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful existing structures found within the city of Petra, particularly the Al Khazneh.

 

Picture source: http://www.worldofdesigners.com
Picture source: http://www.worldofdesigners.com

Name: Parc Guell

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Architects: Antoni Gaudi

Date: 1900-14

 

Picture source: http://cdn.nanxiongnandi.com
Picture source: http://cdn.nanxiongnandi.com

Name: Gardens by the Bay

Location: Marina Bay, Singapore

Architects: Wilkinson Eyre Architects 

Date: 2012

 

Picture source: www.dubaidhow.com
Picture source: www.dubaidhow.com

Name: Burj Khalifa

Location: Dubai, UAE

Architects: Adrian Smith of SOM

Date: 2004-2010

 

Picture source: http://www.wallpaperswala.com
Picture source: http://www.wallpaperswala.com

Name: Eiffel Tower

Location: Paris, France

Architect/Engineers: Stephen Sauvestre/Gustav Eiffel, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier

Date: 2004-2010

 

 

Picture source: http://static.panoramio.com
Picture source: http://static.panoramio.com

Name: Al Khazneh

Location: Petra, Jordan

Architects: N/A

Date: 2012

 

 

 

What Is ‘Architectural Identity’? Part III

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium, Zaha Hadid © ZHA

Generally speaking, architecture has been around for thousands & thousands of years, ranging from Neolithic to Egyptian, Greek and Roman. It has developed and expanded from numerous cultures, traditions, styles, human impact, periodic times, religion and natural phenomena.  Architecture is naturally one of the oldest crafts of the ‘design’ industry and has continued to be one of the greatest human contributions to society. Architecture is more than just a building, whether it is a private house, an office block or a shopping centre. The craft has the opportunity to become something that impacts people, to create such an impact on society that it becomes a iconic structure, rich with history that redefines the narrative and shape of the urban landscape, becoming a significant, memorable part of people’s lives and remaining timeless throughout the ages. That is part of the power of architecture, so with that in mind, looking back at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium proposal, we can try to understand what Zaha Hadid is trying to achieve through her design.

 

With it’s overarching curves and contextual dominance, the structure location is said to be in the Jingu area, one of “Tokyo Vision 2020″‘ sport designated areas. The area is nearby Yoyogi Park, located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. Yoyogi Park is close to Harajuku Station, and other landmarks in the area include the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. The park is noted also for its cherry blossom trees, alongside it’s featured sport courts, bike pathways, bike rentals & picnic areas. The park is also a popular venue for Japanese rock music concerts. The site is also historic for being the location of Japan’s first successful aircraft took flight in 1910, later becoming an army parade vicinity. Projected to be completed by 2019, the stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as sporting events, including athletics, rugby & soccer.  The owners, Japan Sport Council, have plans for the stadium to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019. The Olympic Stadium, as well as most of the other Olympic venues are all located within the ‘Heritage Zone’ & “Tokyo Bay Zone”, each zone approximately 8000m in diameter (https://tokyo2020.jp/en/plan/venue/).

 

Map of Olympic Zone ©tokyo2020.jp
Map of Olympic Zone ©tokyo2020.jp

 

In the on-going debate of whether the stadium is ‘worth its weight’ (long-term) in size and cost, many believe it will set a new precedent in reshaping the urban context of the site’s location, bringing social, sporting and economical benefits as well as becoming a lasting legacy for Japan. Without trying to sound to cynical, the general purpose of an Olympic Bid is ‘lasting legacy’ and that’s what becomes the main focus of everything from national support, to funding, to venues. A quote from Tadao Ando (Chairman of the competition panel) states: “The entry’s dynamic and futuristic design embodies the messages Japan would like to convey to the rest of the world. I believe this stadium will become a shrine for world sport for the next 100 years”. Others disagree, such as Fumihiko Maki who mentions: “The problems I see with the planned stadium all relate to the issue of scale”, whilst claiming the design itself it’s at fault but needs to be reduced in size and become more sustainable. There are those who are in favour of the proposal stating that scaling it back in size would cause more problems then necessary: “”The articulation, how [the design] manifests itself, really needs to come from a single vision, otherwise there won’t be authorship, there won’t be an authentic voice behind it…you get that in all good buildings, all good pieces of design”.

Contextual landscape © Tokyo Olympic bid
Contextual landscape © Tokyo Olympic bid

 

Due to the public outcry of the Japanese public as well as many in the architectural business, the Japan Sport Council have stated that they would scale down the proposed floor plan by one-quarter, according to IBTimes. Reducing the floor area will cut costs down to 180 billion yen, whilst keeping with majority of the design scheme and height estimations, even though many are saying that the reduced cost is still higher then originally pledged during the initial stages. But whether this structure will become a positive influence on the contextual layout and the social impact of the district (and city), only time will tell. There are many buildings that have impacted their respective locations and citizens, but how many buildings have last for hundreds of years that are still with us today? Examples of some buildings that have historical and cultural impact includes the dramatic Sydney Opera House, the prominent Empire State Building, the majestic Taj Mahal, the elegant Louvre and the galactic Cathedral of Brasilia. 

Picture source: seesydneypass.iventurecard.com
Picture source: seesydneypass.iventurecard.com

Name: Sydney Opera House

Location: Sydney, Australia

Architect: Jørn Oberg Utzon

Date: 1959-73

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/

Name: Empire State Building

Location: New York City, USA

Architects: Shreve, Lamb and Harmon

Date: 1929-31

 

Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org
Picture source: http://upload.wikimedia.org

Name: Taj Mahal

Location: Agra, India

Architect: Ustad Ahmad Lahauri

Date: 1632–53

 

Picture source: http://wallpaperstock.net
Picture source: http://wallpaperstock.net

Name: The Louvre

Location: Paris, France

Architect: I.M. Pei (Pyramid)

Date: 12th Century (Palace) 1989 (Pyramid)

 

Picture source: architecture.about.com
Picture source: architecture.about.com

Name: Cathedral of Brasilia

Location: Brasilia, Brazil

Architect: Oscar Niemeyer

Date: 1958-70

Self-Build Mortgages

A self-build project can help many of us turn our dream homes into reality. Despite the poor economy, the UK has seen a soar in self-build developments over the past year, with thousands of us creating a property that’s specified to our needs and requirements.  The procedure can be overwhelming and daunting to those who decide to take this on, with the stress of finding a plot to hiring the right professionals. Nevertheless the outcomes can be extremely rewarding and with the variety of self-build mortgages available; financing can be one less worry on your mind.

Building societies in Leicestershire offer a range of mortgages for self-builders. The new mortgage offered by “Hinckley & Rugby Building Society”, requires drawings to be supervised by a registered RIBA qualified Architect. The drawings are submitted with the mortgage application, building specifications and other necessary planning and building approvals, ensuring that the plans and regulations are to a professional standard. But land must have already been purchased before applying for this mortgage. Whereas “The Loughborough Building Society”, offer a mortgage available to a larger audience. This includes applicants who wish to;

+ Buy land and build a new property

+ Raise capital and build on land they already own

+ Convert an existing structure into a home

+ Purchase an existing property, demolish and rebuild

The biggest differentiation between a self-build mortgage and a regular residential mortgage is that funds are given to you during different stages of the build, instead of just one large lump sum, ensuring that money is spent as planned. Advantages also include, the self build mortgage the saving on stamp duty.

To ensure you self-build project goes as intended, it is advisable to hire trusted and experienced professionals. A range of professionals will be required for the job, such as builders, contractors, structural engineers and last but not least, an Architect.

So what exactly can you expect from an Architect? Creative flair, comprehensive knowledge and specialist guidance are just a few examples of the great qualities that an Architect can hold. These attributes can prove to be vital to any self-build project and with the help of the right professional; a build can often hold more style and elegance than one designed without an Architect.

There is often a misconception that Architects are only involved in the design process. But as well as giving you advise on how to use space efficiently and the different types of materials and fittings available, they can also provide you with invaluable assistance when planning and building are concerned. These areas are known to be stressful and daunting, but can be diminished with the support of an Architect. Some projects may even be managed by the Architects themselves, insuring that your self-build project is built on time and to budget.

For more information and advice on self-builds visit:

http://www.selfbuildportal.org.uk/

http://www.channel4.com/4homes/build-renovate/self-build-advice

http://www.channel4.com/4homes/buy-sell/house-prices-finance/self-build-mortgages-the-guide/display/page/1

 

If you’re looking for an architect, call us for a free consultation on 0116 2510606