Thursday, 15 October 2009

Making Architecture

Recently I have set up my own freelancing model making business here is the blurb from the website and the all important link to the site

making architecture is run by nic howett, he has studied architecture for 5 years at both the Welsh School of Architecture and the University of Greenwich, and has worked in architectural practices for 2 years. Over this time he has developed excellent model making skills, building models in practice, for design competitions and educational work.

making architecture has been created to provide architectural practices with a cost effective way of using models within their design work. Bridging the divide between expensive professional model makers and in-house 'sketch' models, making architecture aims to provide practices with high quality, hand made architectural models.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

In the Modelshop: Vincent de Rijk

Just found this amazing interview with Vincent de Rij, he makes models for OMA and Rem Koolhaas, the interview talks about thier relationship, as you can see from the photos there are some beautiful models.

Vincent de Rijk is perhaps one of the most well known architectural model makers in Europe. He graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, with an industrial design degree. His proximity to the architectural scene in Rotterdam, at around the time when now-famous firms were emerging, has resulted in a multitude of rich collaborations that continue to this day.

Vincent has developed techniques of model making dealing with plastics, specifically the casting of polyester in which he is the foremost expert. His education and practical skills along with a keen understanding of the aims and ambitions of architects have made him a sought-after, and coveted partner on all important competitions and commissions throughout Europe & North America.

Tomek Bartczak: One of the first stories that I heard about you was from Barendt Koolhaas. He told me that you were involved in a model airplane club and you were the youngest member by a few years. So I guess model-making has been an interest of yours for a while now?

Vincent De Rijk: Yes, but always by accident more or less. When I was young, I had some classmates and they were into this airplane building, and then I saw that and said that's nice and I want to go to that model-making club! I was ten years old, and you had to be twelve to enter. It was not that I was especially talented. The nice thing was (looking back on it) that I was already into production more or less and made a whole squadron of Spitfires instead of one Spitfire and then another model.

TB: Yes, Barendt mentioned that also. He said that people were really confused by that. Did you always know you wanted to make architecture models?

VDR: Architecture models just came naturally when we moved to Rotterdam. We were starting up our own workshop with a group, and basically you always need some work on the side when you're starting out, so that's how it happened. Franz (Parthesius), my friend and colleague, who is now a photographer, was more in contact with the architects. They were people that he knew, and we started helping them out with competition work - virtually unpaid in the beginning.

TB: Do you see a lot of cross-over with your work, between industrial design and model-making? Figuring out processes for one and then applying it to the other where possible?

VDR: Yes, more or less, because in my workshop, I always was trying to develop my own techniques, and casting of resin was one of them, also plaster casting, (mostly casting processes). Processes that are more suitable for the workshop rather than industry. So I had experimented with these processes, and the nice thing was that it didn't make any difference whether you made a bowl or a model in the end - it's the same way of thinking with those techniques. That's also what Rem (Koolhaas) saw in the beginning. He saw the bowls we were making with the resin, and he said you should use those techniques for model making. It was not directly his idea, but he also saw the connection...

De Rijk with a multi-piece epoxy mould for casting a very complex polyurethane chaise longue.

Polyester model with metal mesh and scale people cast within.

TB: That leads into my next question: how do you approach a model job? How do you visualize the finished project? You once told me that you don't want to know too much about the building project, what it's about, or what the philosophy of the design is. Can you elaborate on that?

VDR: Well, I'm only concerned with the main features. There's a whole team of architects that know everything about the building, and they'll make sure that whatever is important will be in the drawings, and in the description they give me.

For me, it's important to find the simplicity in the project and to find what the main characteristic or feature is...something that you can take away from it. Rem is also able to do that in his descriptions. If he talks about a building, he can make a really simple description about it...and that's what a model should do. Knowing too much background information makes it confusing. It should be an object. That's what I always try to make. Of course it's a representation of a building, but it's also a representation of an idea.

TB: Have you found that during the process of model making, the model itself has influenced the architect to change the design in some way?

VDR: That's a question that always comes up and it's of course true, but it's also logical. Everything during the process influences the design. Every meeting, every conversation, every drawing. So I don't see that as something special that you add. But it's also tricky because with the model, it's usually hard to see anything consistent anytime before it's finished, and that's when the architect starts to react on it...and it's usually already too late. But Rem is good at that. He can find the right moment to see what can be changed.

TB: I remember this one story that I thought was quite interesting that you could perhaps re-tell: Regarding the Easter weekend and the Zeebrugge Sea Terminal competition, where you actually had a big hand in the initial concept of the building.

VDR: Yeah, it's hard to remember it exactly right. There were drawings of these round towers, and there was the concept for a sea terminal in Zeebrugge, and it was a very short deadline. I think they did everything in one week or so. It was a strong concept, Xavier de Geyter was involved and he had all kinds of references, it could be an octopus with tentacles, or it could be a radar sphere that you could find on marine boats. He had a whole list of references of what it could be. Actually in the end, it was a little bit of everything - which was nice.
At that time, when he came in to the workshop, they hadn't made a shape, they just had these ideas. When he called me to make shapes for it (of course a round shape was already in the range of ideas), but I made it a complete egg in the beginning because it was Easter Sunday of course. Xavier laughed really hard when he saw it, and in the end, it was not changed much.

The mess associated with dealing with polyester.

TB: That's a really fantastic story. Let's move on to some more specific questions now: How do you go about choosing materials for a particular project? Is it based on an effect you want to achieve?

VDR: It has a lot to do with scale of course. There's one important scale issue: can you make it a solid model or will it be an open model? I usually prefer the solid model where you can make everything in one block with inserts and floors glued in. Then the materials are usually casting materials. Transparent materials or plaster. And that depends on the level of abstraction also. Usually I try to avoid the more conventional materials that most model makers use like wood and sheets and plastic materials. But there's not really a specific preference.

TB: What made you initially interested in polyester as a medium for your work?

VDR: Because polyester resin casting is really a workshop process, and ever since I was in school, I was looking for things that were not 100% industrial, but almost more craft-based techniques. Polyester fits very well in that range. It's not directly a nice material to work with, but it has a lot of potential, ways to make variations in the techniques to give different colours and transparencies.

OMA proposal for Dubai. scale 1:200.

Kuwait Master plan. pictured (left to right) Andrea Bertasi, VDR,
Daniele de Benedictis, Pirjo Haikola, Tomas Libertiny, Tjimtje.

TB: I would say that you have a very particular style of model making. If I were to see a model for the first time somewhere, I would know right away this is a Vincent de Rijk model. Can you speak a little about how you developed this style?

VDR: If you make a drawing, there's two ways of doing it. The technical way, to make sure everything is visible and clear. Or to make something more like a sketch that gives the overall idea. Less detail and more the overall atmosphere - that's also the way to approach the model. I am almost convinced that people who are not able to make a nice sketch, or draw, cannot come up with a nice model. Maybe technically they can, but not as an image.

TB: Your workshop is a very conventional type of workshop with drills and power tools. What kind of specialized equipment do you have?

VDR: Well, I have the stationary milling machine. It was one of the first machines that we bought, because in combination with polyester, we needed to make sharp blocks and cut-outs. Later we added the computer controlled milling machine. Every tool is still basic. There's not much specialty tools. In the beginning, we almost used only hand electrical tools. We still have a lot of those. It's not so much about equipment I think. But the computerized milling machines are of course now more important, there's also the direct link with the drawing.

Pirjo operating the CNC routing machine, aluminium being cut with the aid of lubricant.

TB: But even with those sophisticated machines, you've stayed quite basic. If you look at the machines, the software that controls them is the most simple, low-tech software available on the market; whereas there are other products that are more complicated and have more advanced features. Can you comment on why you've stayed with something so basic?

VDR: I'm not sure, but by the instruction of your computer, everything gets more literally linked to what the architect draws. So the parts that come out, are almost exactly like the drawings. And that's what I would most like to avoid. That's why I don't want to have fancy software. It's more about the combination of materials. It's more about thinking in blocks than plates. So I don't really feel the necessity of 3D software. It's basically only for landscapes. And you really limit the types of materials you can use. The nice thing now is that we can use polyester, wood, metals, and even plaster. To keep this sketchy idea as much as possible.

TB: When I was working for you, you stressed time, and time again that we have to re-draw the building at model scale when we get the drawings from the architect. As architects, we're trained to always think about the building at full scale: 1:1. Do you see the building as a model first and foremost?

VDR: Yes. That's important. When you draw out a project in model scale, you start to think about the right dimensions for the materials. If you think about the materials that you can use, it's never accurate to the one-to-one scale because usually the materials are too thick and you have to somehow try to find a way to deal with it. You can only do that in model-scale.
Also, I think in model-scale to avoid the problem of zooming in too much. Even last week, as an example, people came with a drawing, and I had to cut out some 2-D people at a special scale. At the computer, they were worrying about the smallest detail, and I was telling them about the smallest mill bit that we could use (and they were worried about loss of detail). But when you see the result, you realise there's no problem at all. I mean, you can't see the nose of a person at 1:100 scale! It's only this big!

It's a really hard thing to get out of your system if it's not drawn and printed in the right scale. Maybe it's also a generation thing. I never worked with computers when I was starting to design, so everything that you drew, you drew one-to-one. The drawing is a physical thing. You see that also with Rem, he never comments on things he sees on the screen; only on prints, only on things that have a certain size. Size, scale are so important in architecture.

TB: We've talked about this briefly earlier, but what do you see as being your specialty in the model-making world? What keeps OMA, MVRDV, and others coming to make their most important models with you?

VDR: I don't know...I think it's a matter of what they're used to. We have a long term relationship and I know their method of working quite well - especially the hectic nature surrounding it. I'm not behaving directly like a model maker in the process. I know that the architect needs open points in the process and cannot give me any fixed's always half fixed. But still within this process, you have to find starting points - and that is the hard part. Even if they're not ready with the design, you have to give them some model information. It could be made like this or it could be made like that. Then they can make choices already. I think that's what the standard way of making a model is: wait until you get all the drawings and then start. That's what these architects cannot do....and that's what I try to incorporate into the process. Since I've been working with them a long time already, we have developed a system of finding a way to deal with those problems, which most model-makers cannot deal with. So it's not so much that the model itself is so special, it's more the process behind the be able to deal with the process of model-making.

REX Architecture's Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Dallas, TX. model 1:50.

TB: Are you exploring any new techniques at the moment or are you focusing on developing existing ideas?

VDR: For me, I cannot really think of new techniques, I think it has never been that way. The techniques are always there and it's what you do with them that makes a model interesting.

TB: What still excites you about model-making?

VDR: The opportunity to build a nice object. And that it's always a challenge. You never know how well things will turn out. If you're into more than sketch models, potentially to make lasting piece, presentation models. They are things that are collected. I feel that I can really be a part of that group...part of a team that produces these special objects. Architecture is still not my specialty at all, but I really respect the way these offices work. And the way they keep things open. Usually there's quite an open minded system to create something really special. That atmosphere I like a lot. Within that process, I feel there's some role that I can play, that makes it always exciting - it's never predictable. You never know what comes out.

TB: Last question: What does the future hold for you? Do you see yourself making models for the next period of time, or do you see yourself transitioning more towards your own products and designs?

VDR: In the near future, I think it will be less about models and more about products and also developing the workshop techniques a little bit further. But at the same time, I also feel very connected to the offices in Rotterdam such as OMA and MVRDV, so perhaps I'll do a few models per year - it would be nice.

De Rijk and Michele Bruni working on model of REX Architecture's Museum Plaza, Louisville, KY. scale 1:500.

De Rijk and Rem Koolhaas discussing OMA proposal for La Defense Competition.

TB: OK, I guess that concludes the interview. Thanks very much for taking the time to do this Vincent.

VDR: No problem. It was nice.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Peter Zumthor speaks to the Architects' Journal

Full transcript of an interview with the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor following his RIBA lecture

The Durrant Hotel, Central London
1 April 2009

Patrick Lynch:You must do a lot of this now, celebrating?

Peter Zumthor: This is great, [gesturing at the tea set] in England you order a cup of tea and all of this comes! It’s better to wait a little?

Patrick Lynch: You started your talk last night showing your house and studio. Did you grow up where you live? Your wife is from the mountains, right?

Peter Zumthor: No, I grew up in Basel, but we’ve lived in the Graubünden since 1971.

Patrick Lynch: You said last night that the world comes to you now, but you must do a lot of travelling with projects in Norway, Austria and England?

Peter Zumthor: Yes, about 1/3 of the time I am travelling. The ideal is no more than 20-25 per cent out of the office. I have to travel now because the commissions are no longer outside my front door. If I travel more than 50 per cent of the time I get sick.

Patrick Lynch: The last time you were at the RIBA [2000] your talk was entitled ‘Does Beauty have a Form?’, and you spoke about life, love, sex, clothes, food, more than simply buildings. What do you think now?

Peter Zumthor: The same thesis; I have the same feeling. Once you start a phenomenological pursuit of beauty, of moments, you look at your personal life: “When do I experience beauty? When do I have these moments of sensation of beauty? When do I feel this beauty?”

Patrick Lynch: “In Search of a Lost Architecture” begins: ‘When I think of architecture, images come into my mind… Sometimes I can almost feel a particular door handle in my hand, a piece of metal shaped like the back of a spoon …. When I went into my aunt’s garden… I remember the sound of the ravel under my feet… memories like thes contain the deepest architectural experience that I know.

They are the reservoirs of the architectural atmospheres and images that I explore in my work as an architect’. [Thinking Architecture, Birkhäuser 1998]. Last night you spoke about your grandfather’s house, about the shallow steps between spaces there as an inspiration for the floors of St Kolomba Museum being “not like those flat supermarket floors everywhere”. Are these memories personal, or part of the phenomenal world of images?

Peter Zumthor: Basically I’ve come to think that I work like an author. There was a time when I thought that all architects work like authors, but when I looked around I saw that they were implementers and service providers. This is not my world. So I work like a composer writes his music, a writer writes his book and a painter… and so on. I try to do buildings and spaces. And what I have to do for the plans and the function, and what I can try to do is the basic stuff that I can deal with. In your case and in any other case it is a matter of “what we know” and what is inside us. Most things that are inside us we don’t know!

So, we have all these many sayings of artists, like Picasso, who said that: “art is not about inventing, art is about discovering”. This is nothing new. Everybody says this in different fields. It’s obvious that what is inside you is the only guarantee – no, not guarantee – this is the stuff that you are working with as an author if you “create”. A stupid word heh?. If you make something new, this is where everything comes from. It does not come from following ideologies. It is great if you become part of the church, Modernism or whatever, then of course it consoles you and it supports you and makes part of a group. You are a Chelsea fan….

Patrick Lynch: Or a Zumthor fan….

Peter Zumthor: Ha Ha! Yeah, true. This is also human. But in order to create something this is not a good thing. Better to be yourself.

Patrick Lynch: Last night, talking about drawing, in particular early design section sketches in pencil and wash, “this drawing already knows what it wants to be’. And I got a strong sense of otherness that I recognise too. Somehow you are doing it but, you’re not quite sure what is going to happen yet but that you know at a certain point that a good beginning has been made. You also said that you are fast, but that what takes time is to find out the mistakes. This seems perfectly reasonable.

Peter Zumthor: Yeah, anybody is like this I think. It is a legend that I am slow; I’m just honest! I don’t want to build mistakes under time pressure… I like slow food, but I am incredibly fast. I get nervous if people are not so fast in understanding and seeing. I cut my collaborators off. I say “don’t explain, I see it.” From the universities the young guys learn that they have to explain everything but I say “just give me a hint. You’re working in an imaginative architect’s office, so just assume that I will see everything. Just go on.” If you do things too quick sometimes you don’t know if something is right, if something is good. If I look at a drawing done at a certain time in the process or in five years time, I can see that the drawing knows something we built. And at another time a drawing is completely helpless. But at other times I know that this looks secure and this was insecure. If you had asked me in the moment I was drawing there was no way would I know.

It is a legend that I am slow; I’m just honest!

Patrick Lynch: Is that why you think that we are creatures of habit as architects? I don’t like the word methodology or process because that sounds artificial as if you could make a goal happen in football or make someone fall in love with you. But there is a need for place that makes you lucky. If you are going to be lucky, then you need to make your own luck. When you are travelling is that difficult, or is it exhilarating? Do you find that you can work in a hotel room or in an aeroplane?

Peter Zumthor: This depends. I think that I feel that the people around me abroad are interested in a way in what I am doing, this is good. From this comes discourse and this is like working and living and learning. So if I go somewhere, and I like talking to you like now obviously, this is great. Sometimes you go somewhere and you think this is a mistake, that someone has bought me to go somewhere and I deliver something and they are not interested. This is very simple. Good hosts…. [laughs]

Patrick Lynch: Is this how decide to take projects on or not?

Peter Zumthor: Yeah. I need a genuine interest in the project. So if a rich guy comes to me and says “I would like a nice house on a ski resort, and money is not a problem, I’d like a nice place for me and my friends to come to stay, could you think about something?” even though he might be a nice guy or is a nice guy I say No. For me it would mean four years out of my life and for you it is just another weekend house somewhere, so this doesn’t go together.

Patrick Lynch: My favourite building of yours that I visited eleven years ago is the old people’s home at Chur (1995?).

Peter Zumthor: You’ve seen that? Nice building heh?

Patrick Lynch: It’s wonderful. It was lovely to see the way it was loved in use.

Peter Zumthor: Lots of people like it. The institution that own this building hate it. This is crazy. It is good for the user, for the old people. But for the owner he thinks there are too many visitors, that the floor is difficult to clean… solid wood floors. But the people really like it.

Patrick Lynch: They seem like a good client though. You seem to have had a relationship with them and understood the questions of the need for belonging and the need for privacy, of the individual and the group. I love the way that the kitchen walls step out and make a space for the door mat that of course everybody uses to place an umbrella….

Peter Zumthor: It’s nice isn’t it? Now the loggia, the verandah is full of their furniture.

Patrick Lynch: It seems that part of the otherness of what you do is that it is always open and needs to be understood in order to be completed. Is there any architect today whose work you look forward to seeing?

Peter Zumthor: I am interested in the work of Tony Fretton and Caruso St John, but I don’t read magazines so I don’t know everybody in Britain. It is unjust to mention anybody because I am ignorant.

Patrick Lynch: Have you ever been to see Alvaro Siza’s work?

Peter Zumthor: I know him personally. He is a great of course. I admire a lot what he does. And Eduardo Souta da Moura I admire too. In the “ star system” Siza is trying to do his personal thing, not selling out. Everything today is often just images…

Patrick Lynch:Rafael Moneo said that the Porto school of architecture is like a stage set, and that Siza is like an author, placing the different characters on it, like protagonists.

Peter Zumthor: Mmmm…

Patrick Lynch: It seems just that you are working in Norway and this seems to be sympathetic. There are some good young Norwegian architects.

Peter Zumthor: Yeah…. There is a young generation coming taught by Sverre Fehn…

Patrick Lynch: and Christain Norberg Schulz…

Both: … a good combination.

Patrick Lynch:There are two more things that I’d like to ask you. Firstly, I saw last night the house built for your wife Anne Liese out of engineered timber. I feel obliged to ask if you feel an ethical commitment to sustainability? You were talking about the sound of the wood, but I wonder if there is something ethical to this too?

Peter Zumthor: It’s not ethical only. But somehow nothing beats the atmosphere inside a solid timber house. I love concrete and I love Romanesque churches made out of Limestone, but there is something amazing about solid timber. Not panels like this (hits wood). I share this feeling with her and everybody says the same who has been there. What was missing in these traditional solid timber houses was light. Now in these new houses there is a lot of light, with huge windows framing the views. It is like a combination now of modernism, with flowing floor plans, and this old material. This has nothing to do for me with ecology. We are trying to be sensible. But I am not an ecological architect; I’m an architect.

nothing beats the atmosphere inside a solid timber house

Patrick Lynch: When Alvar Aalto was a professor at MIT funded by the Finnish timber industry he once gave a lecture about timber products. And someone asked him “why do you always make your rooms out of wood?” and Alto replied: “the origin of the word material is mater… and a wooden building is the closest to human skin”. The closest you will ever feel to your mother…

Peter Zumthor: This sounds a bit mythical or mythological, but there is the feeling that the space from this material is different from that material on your skin. Some materials take off more energy… wood doesn’t need any energy from your skin. Whether it is cold or hot it doesn’t matter. You could be in a wooden building and the felt temperature is always closer to what you want. If it is too hot it is always 2-3 degrees colder and the other way around. I made this huge timber lump of a lumberyard for the Hannover Expo (2000) and even though it was completely open it was cool inside, like going into a forest. And in the winter it worked the other way around. Wood doesn’t need you: It stays there. I never read anything but there must be research on this; it has this quality.

Patrick Lynch: It absorbs all of us, it absorbs sound and moisture, it’s resilient but also kind of vulnerable. You have to be careful, but you don’t have to polish it or be obsessive or neurotic. It’s just there, in the world.

Peter Zumthor: In these two houses everything is out of wood. The shower is wood, the basin is wood, all is wood. You shower in wood and you take a bath in wood!

Patrick Lynch: The one other thing I wanted to talk to you about is that it is clear that as a modern person - as you were saying last night - you feel ambivalent or ambiguous about working on religious buildings. Thy Catholic church seems historically to have been and in the last century for Le Corbusier also, a good patron of architecture. But also you said that Bruder Klaus was you mother’s favourite saint…

Peter Zumthor: One of two

Patrick Lynch: That must be a very strange thing to do, to make religious spaces. Or does it feel natural as an architect to do this?

Peter Zumthor: Bruder Klaus is everybody’s favourite saint in Switzerland. Half of the population is Catholic. He only became a saint in the 1940s, 400 years after his death. For me he represents an upright figure who does not make any wrong compromises; any compromise. And also he is staying himself. He is a positive figure for me also in his opposition to the church at that time. The other thing is the emotional thing. My mother visits him in a church in Basel. There is a copy of the statue that I showed you last night in a nice modern church by an architect that I do not know in Basel. She took me and like in Italy she goes and strokes him. A little shy she says, “he has always helped me”. I said “Mother, I know the original of this sculpture”. And then I could see that for her “original” didn’t interest her at all. There are a lot of copies of this original late gothic sculptures in the churches and it is like this “iconistic” thing that I thought you only have in Eastern religions, where have the icon is never an original. This is something very emotional that I like: this figure is so important to her and to others.

The main thing was that there is no altar [in the Bruder Klaus chapel], so it is not a space for the church. To seek to make a new, a tiny little space in a field that in the end expresses hopes about human existence. Sorry, this is a little bit pathetic. Can you do this? I asked that this should be completely contemporary, so at the beginning there was all sorts of stuff about solar cells [PVs] and stuff like that. And it boiled down over the years to the pure essential. All of these things fell off. At the end it was the chapel and the material and the rain and the water and whatever… it doesn’t matter [laughs]. I wanted to take this commission to make something really contemporary. It has this abstract goal, which obviously a very stupid goal. I knew I had a good client though.

Patrick Lynch: It seems to be really successful.

Peter Zumthor: People go there and are deeply moved. I get books of poems from all levels of people, intellectual and academics, ordinary people, farmers….

Patrick Lynch: At the end of Tarkovsky’s film about the Russian Icon painter the medieval monk Andrei Rubliev, there is a moment when he sees that a boy has made the bell for the tyrant even though he didn’t know how to make a bell; and Andrei sees that he has to keep making work even though there is bad stuff everywhere all the time. That he has a responsibility and a gift. That seems to be….

Peter Zumthor: This kind of thinking is very close to my heart. I’m a great fan of Tarkovsky of course. I like his book ‘Sculpting In Time’ very much.

Patrick Lynch: Thank you very much, that was a great honour. Have you got many more of these to do?

Peter Zumthor: Now I’ve got to talk to a guy who wants a whisky distillery on the Outer Hebrides….Ha!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Town Houses For Bikers

Following on from my last post, the wonderfully named Love Architecture have designed a townhouse project in Tokyo for people who love their motorcycles.

A very simply designed house with the following layout. The ground floor is for the bike, at the back of the ground floor is the bathroom (and not a whole lot of privacy-in the last picture you can see the toilet from the street!) Stacked above that on the first and second floors are the kitchen and bedroom.

Stair Porn

I was pointed to this website the other day, it's a blog all about stairs, regularly updated it has lots of links to the architects and designers who have created them. The photo above is one of the stairs featured on the site from a scheme called Town Houses for Bikers the by a Japanese firm Love Architecture Inc

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Layer House

The house is made up of pre-cast concrete strips, stacked unevenly to allow stairs, furniture and floors to be inserted in the gaps. It's tight, claustrophobic, yet entirely open. There are no internal doors, apart from the sliding doors to the toilet.

Passing the tree in the courtyard, that brings irregular form to this otherwise linear exterior, you enter on a landing, where you can either traverse to the bedroom, or head downstairs to the basement where a formal dining room and bathroom are housed.

Climbing up you reach the living room and galley kitchen with a steep set of stairs taking you to the roof deck, of which half is a glazed panel to bathe the main stairwell with light. The front of the h
ouse is a larged glass panel to let more light into the house and the rear wall has smaller window striped by the precast concrete.

Monday, 9 February 2009

A Place of my Own

Recently I have started rereading the first architecture book I read, 'A Place of my Own' by Michael Pollan, he is not an architect, nor is he a critic or theorist, just a writer. Whilst renovating his house, Pollan and his Architect discuss the possibility of building something to view from the bedroom window, the seed is sown and Pollan endeavours to build his place. The book is now out of print but you can still get copies on ebay and amazon, here is a brief synopsis.

A room of one's own: is there anybody who hasn't at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn't turned those soft words over until they'd assumed a habitable shape?

When writer Michael Pollan decided to plant a garden, the result was an award-winning treatise on the borders between nature and contemporary life, the acclaimed bestseller Second Nature. Now Pollan turns his sharp insight to the craft of building, as he recounts the process of designing and constructing a small one-room structure on his rural Connecticut property — a place in which he hoped to read, write and daydream, built with his two own unhandy hands.

Invoking the titans of architecture, literature and philosophy, from Vitrivius to Thoreau, from the Chinese masters of feng shui to the revolutionary Frank Lloyd Wright, Pollan brilliantly chronicles a realm of blueprints, joints and trusses as he peers into the ephemeral nature of "houseness" itself. From the spark of an idea to the search for a perfect site to the raising of a ridgepole, Pollan revels in the infinitely detailed, complex process of creating a finished structure. At once superbly written, informative and enormously entertaining, A Place of My Own is for anyone who has ever wondered how the walls around us take shape--and how we might shape them ourselves.

Here a few images of Michael Pollans place of his own.

Incidentally he has written other books too, have a look at his website here

Rem Koolhaas is on Fire!

Sad news in the architectural world, part off the CCTV building in Beijing by Rem Koolhaas is on fire, sources report as follows

'A fierce fire engulfed a major new building in Beijing that houses a luxury hotel and cultural center Monday, the last day of celebrations for the lunar new year when the city was alight with fireworks.

The building was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and is part of China Central Television's new headquarters, an angular wonder of modernist architecture that was built to coincide with the Beijing Olympics last year.

The fire was burning from the ground floor to the top floor, the flames reflecting in the glass facade of the main CCTV tower next to the hotel and cultural center.

The 241-room Mandarin Oriental hotel in the building was due to open this year.

Flames were spotted around 9:30 p.m., and within 20 minutes the fire had spread throughout the building'

To read the full story click here

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Some of you may have seen this before, but It is a project I really enjoy and has a good sense of fun about it, I have laser cur models myself and this is an interesting interpretation, or application of a similar process of making. This is the text from the architect eley kishimoto's website

A collaboration with 6a architects, the HAIRYWOOD project played with ideas of defining space and creating place through the interaction of structure and pattern repeat. The 6.3m tower with raised public space was launched at the opening of The Yard, the Architecture Foundation’s new gallery.
Here are some images I found below from
flickr courtesy of erase and

If you look on the website of the architect you can find the models of the tower, suprisingly these are not laser cut, perhaps this would have been a representation took close to the end product. after all it is better to leave some things to the imagination.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

How to improve this Blog

Since I am a frequent user of pushpullbar i have started a thread on the site about how to improve this site, please take a look and see how the conversation goes!

Monday, 2 February 2009


Just thought I'd mention the site that I probably use the most, related to architecture, and it is the forum at, based around the 3D modeling program Sketchup, it is a place where you can post your own work and receive feedback on it, rather like a crit. You can also get advice on software, practice, anything to do with architecture. You dont have to post about sketchup!

I highly reccomend it!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Small House Style

Have just found this brilliant website focusing on small houses, it's amazing how little space we actually need to live in

This blurb is from the website

'Small House Style is a web magazine dedicated to everything small house. Think bungalows, cottages, guest houses, cabins, sustainable architecture, green building, straw bale, prefab, modern, apartments, modular, simple, solar, wind and tiny - inside and outside. We love beautiful, modern and sustainable small buildings.'

We hope Small House Style is an inspiration to consumers, builders, designers, entrepreneurs, innovators, developers, lawyers, engineers, lenders, contractors, sticks-in-the-mud and treehuggers alike.'

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Brick Accumulator

This is a project I did in the fist year of my Diploma at Greenwich University it is called the Brick Accumulator, I previously posted it on a forum i regul
arly use called pushpullbar and the original discussion can be found here.

The Brick Accumulator.

The fort unruly, wayward, neglected for hundreds of years stands on the edge of the River Medway, incomplete from years of abuse, more recently teenagers have taken away bricks but the River Medway has always.

Wyllie a painter, his house Hoo lodge overlooks the Medway, he used bricks from the fort to repair his dining room. The fort is now distributed across the site, bricks strewn into the Medway, some removed by vandals, others by Wyllie. No one wishes to repair the fort, nor even hold it in a constant state, soon it will be no more.

Across a long bridge from the hill side you cross above the tree tops to reach the tower, inside the bricks from the fort are to be found collected and re-assembled as one again. Stored in conditions which replicate that of where they were found. The dark black bricks of the Medway emerged in water in a pool at the towers base, the better preserved bricks towards the top. The tower becomes the bricks new mortar.

Walkways cross the tower branching out from a staircase that transcends the tower allowing visitors to emerge themselves within the bricks. The staircase allows visitors to view the permanent collection on there way down.

The Permanent Collection.

Bricks, every type of brick imaginable will be kept here, archived by size, colour, shape, weight, condition and age. The will be stored in a shelf like location upon the walls of the tower, visitors after they have descended the tower can ask to see a brick and ‘the robot’ which organises and reorganises the collection will deliver one to the table at the base of the tower. Scurrying up the walls to find the brick removing it from its slot and placing it on the ‘reading’ table below for the visitor to inspect. Along with each brick is delivered its history and relevant information. The visitor is allowed to examine the brick before it is replaced within the archive.

The collection can be used for reference for people trying to reference a brick, find a certain type of brick or people researching a certain period in the history of bricks. This is a library of bricks if you like, however no bricks are loaned out.

The Temporary Collection

These hulks out in the Medway store the bricks and components of buildings which for whatever reason have been dismantled, arriving by boat they are help here until a new location can be found and the building reassembled, not accessible from the land visitors can only see the hulks from the shore.

The unruly fort and the hulk and towers in the distance.

The red dots indicate the location of the bricks.

Detail model of the wall

Please let me know what you think of this project


Hello and welcome to my new blog called Making Architecture, I am an architecture student currently studying in London for my post-graduate diploma. I wanted to start this blog to put all the things I find interesting in architecture together in one place. The title Making Architecture refers to my interest in making architecture, models, buildings etc, I hope you enjoy the content as it builds...