Welsh + Major is a New South Wales based architectural practice led by Chris Major and David Welsh started in 2004. Their work is described as having modernist sensibilities and the aim in their architecture is to design in such a way that is responsive and evolving rather than just reacting. This design ethos is demonstrated in a number of their works discussed, their projects range from small alterations and extensions, to public and commercial projects. All the projects are connected in the method of intervention of the new to the old. From each project they build on a body of work that grows in depth the quality of detailing and attention to the expression of the modern additions either contrasting or complementing the existing fabric. Their design embraces the beauty of the ordinary through the simple gestures and selection and use of materials.
History and memory are strong recurring themes in the works of Welsh + Major in part dealing with mostly heritage properties but also the notion of place making which resonates in their work. Particularly in their residential projects the idea of memory is integral to the life of a house and its story. Whether it be in the building itself or the landscaped spaces and the spaces in between, all are integral to creating that sense of place. Their approach to design termed as “modernish” is reflected in the material palate they work with, usually constraining themselves to a few simple materials, generally chosen for their robust qualities and detailed simply and sparingly but to a considered affect. Always designing for light and ventilation to enhance the spaces to allow users an appreciation of the materiality of these spaces.
There is a sensitivity needed when designing in an historical context but also ambition to make more of the existing building, respecting the building but also enhancing it to give the building a successful new future. How do we work with existing buildings and their fabric to further its use as well as acknowledging the its former life? That requires an understanding of the buildings weaknesses and strengths and not being afraid to change the things that do not work to better so new life can be breathed into the building but does not compromise the qualities of the old. Adaptive reuse must consider the social, economic and environmental impact of the design.
Protecting our architectural history and heritage is critical to preserving the memories of a city. There are always layers of history as a city grows, as things are pulled down and added to, this builds on the memories. The decision of what stays and what intervention should be undertaken can quite critical to the preservation of our built environment.
I spent 100 days of those 6 months sketching the city, thanks to the lovely Katherine Geppert, who suggested a group of us try out the Instagram 100 Day Project. Armed with a notebook and pencil I sketched urban scenes from October through to January.
As well as being a good reason to explore the city, practising my sketching was another thing on my to-do list. What I’ve learned from the 100 days is definitely practise, practise, practise. I might compare some sketching in the summer to see how different the urban scenes would be.
Check out Miss Geppert’s wonderful watercolour instagrams @katiegeppert. Also many other wonderful 100 day projects to explore on Instagram.
After a three year hiatus from this blog it’s probably a good time to start this whole wandering architects endeavour again since Tim, Edie and I have moved to a new city. It’s now been 6 months living in Berlin, most of it feeling homesick for Glasgow where we’ve left some wonderful friends and a three-quarter renovated flat. We’ve also spent the time making this new city our new home; learning a new language and exploring the many wonders this energetic and complex city has to offer. It’s been exploring architecture, history, public transportation, play parks, city parks, cafe culture, bar culture (not so much these days), markets, museums, galleries, and so forth.
6 months and I’ve barely covered any great breadth of this city. I guess starting this blog up again would ensure I made a concerted effort to get my arse out of P-berg and see parts of Berlin I haven’t seen before.
Say hello to Edie Harland Mann.
Exhibited at Loop – a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day
The recognition of 100 significant female architects.
How many [female] architects can you name?
E-1027 is a modernist house that sits on the edge of the sea in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, France; completed in 1929, up until recently its design was attributed to Jean Badovici, a contemporary and friend of Le Corbusier. In actual fact the house was predominantly the work of Eileen Gray, his partner at the time. Gray was generally more renown for her furniture design, less known for her contribution to architecture. This is not an isolated incident – female architects often struggle for recognition and commissions within the industry.
Architecture as a profession has been around for centuries however women have only been allowed to practice architecture for less than a century. Following the passing of the 1919 Sex Discrimination Act women were first allowed to become architects. Prior to that women had found it necessary to practice in secret, as was the case with Elizabeth Wilbraham (1632-1705) who may have designed many notable buildings in the seventeenth century but without the records to establish proper attribution for her designs, her name lies in obscurity. Even the Bauhaus design school which was reputed for it’s forward thinking and embracing of modern ideas still would not admit women into it’s architecture school when opened in 1927. The school had defined roles for the “beautiful sex” most female students restricted to the textile crafts, few permitted into sculpture or other areas deemed for the “stronger sex”.
Women are now able to make a name for themselves in architecture these days, and the recognition of their contribution increasing with high profile names such as Zaha Hadid and Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA. However inequalities do exist in the architectural profession today, and it is still regarded as a male dominated profession, with very few women reaching high managerial roles, the glass ceiling within the profession is still a serious concern. Studies have shown the number of women that stay in architecture are relatively low. Women make up 38% of the architectural student population however only 13% of the practicing profession. The long hours and family commitments, and general pressures of a “macho” industry are considered to be reasons for the lack of progression of women architects. This work acknowledges the numerous women and their contribution to the built environment, not satisfied in just taking up the traditional crafts.
D-Day is approaching rapidly, knitting is popping up in all sorts of unexpected places across Glasgow , and indeed the world.
My work – one of the 100 events showcased at Loop at the Tramway on the 8th of March is getting there if a little behind schedule – knitting machines are complex beast and Hermione and I are only just getting to know each other properly 😉
Check out the event website for more details and hippy love
Going to check out the official launch this Saturday, bringing the Barras back to life…
We had a lovely day last month at Troon – the delightful haunt of the Glasgow well to do and all things golf on the Ayrshire coast. Chhay had recovered from her recent skin irritation, the sun was out and we had a cheeky mid week day off. Our focus was lunch at the pointy end of our favourite fishmonger – MacCallums of Troon.
Their Oyster Bar and Wee Hurrie are located right out at the end of the still busy working harbour and marina so we had worked up an appetite by the time we arrived. Sttled into the slightly posher oyster bar resplendent with America’s Cup memorabilia we were served fantastic oysters, fresh fish and a slightly overcooked lobster in a very convival atmosphere.
Once sated we wandered back along the foreshore, before popping into the well stocked charity shops that populate the main street where I picked up the design classic Olivetti Lettera 22 portable typewriter (see above) for the princely sum of Â£4.50. Look out for more old skool posts from me now!
Well we have a new addition to Airlie Street … Cousin Claire has come to stay! Leaving the big smoke of London for cosy little Glasgow she’s decided to share the Glasgie experience with us.
The crowd was quite another story. Not sure if I am getting too old for the live music caper or if Glasgow audiences are completely out of their heads at every gig, but they were certainly crazy with plastic cups full of beer flying in all directions.
Despite the crowd it was great to get back in front of some live music again after quite a while, and it appears as though there is a lot more great gig’s coming up in the next few months.