Hey it’s that time again for Instagram’s 100 Day Project. @katiegeppert has convinced me to go along for the ride again this year.
Apologies for my terrible sketching in advance! Katie’s watercolours you should check out. You can follow my Instagram feed @chhachi on this page.
The running of a small practice faces many challenges. To make a success of the business requires some innovative ways of finding projects and working in different ways to get that start in the industry. This lecture invites two young Brisbane practices, Maytree Studios and Atelier Chen Hung, to give the audience insight into the way they work and run their office and how they address the challenges. Working on projects of a small scale both practices are client focused and passionate about achieving well designed outcomes satisfying their clients briefs as well as architectonically. The engagement with client and the project during the whole process is critical to achieving satisfying outcomes.
The choice for young architects to start their own practice comes from a conscious work/life balance decision. Many start out practicing in larger firms to gain industry experience and knowledge but dissatisfaction for some in the roles given to them working in big practices, instead of quitting the industry, find they need to go out on their own to enjoy working in architecture. Most small practices tend to gain experience on small scale projects at first, these found through personal contacts, either family or friends, such as residential and extensions and small interior work. When starting out working collaboratively enables small practices to gain experience and exposure to larger scale projects and budgets which trying to do on their own would not be possible. By which time they have made contacts or published enough work to market themselves to win future work. Successful outcomes are important for gaining repeat work and recommendations to new clients.
Both practices demonstrate a disciplined and pragmatic way of working, there is an understanding of budgets and other constraints that are reflected in the architectural outcomes. The disciplined way of working is also demonstrated by the emphasis they make on presenting the clarity of their working process with their clients which seem key to the successful running of their business. They discuss a passion for engagement in all aspects of the design process and show a great level of involvement but also a good level of understanding of the value of their projects so they know when to step back. Clearly setting out the terms of the contract with the client, both understanding the output expected and an agreed approach to the design helps do away with any ambiguity that leads to problems on a project.
Finding new and interesting work is always a challenge for every architectural practice no matter the size, big or small. As a young practice this challenge of finding new work is greater, your pool of resources to find work is limited until you have built up a reputation and client base. Gaining new work is what enables the business to grow, and a successful business can rely on satisfied clients to help bring repeat work or new clients through referrals. As a small practice working closely with your client to navigate them through the design process so they better understand your processes as well as enabling you to obtain a clear brief is a sure way of achieving successful design outcomes.
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.
The way we use technology as a tool for design is changing greatly with more possibilities for experimentation than ever before. Architecture becomes a field for experiential based understanding where we react to the design and find new paths for understanding our built environment and innovative ways to realise it. This follows the ideas of Frederick Kiesler in his work titled Correalismwhich understands space being as important to design as the object itself because of how people interact with their environment and make use of it, this is the natural and also technological environment. His interest was in the ways and methods utilized by people to achieve their needs, he found these need are constantly evolving and therefore so will the tools used evolve along with them.
The work of f[Flat], Muge Belek and Frederico Fialho presented at this lecture follows Kiesler’s theory with their study of transvergence architecture or Transarchitecture. This form of architecture theory is transdisciplinary in that it is an experience based understanding, pulling together all strands of disciplines to form the basis of its research, continually evolving to reach an idea, finding new paths and understanding to reach a solution or conclusion. Belek and Fialho work in the method of Parametricism, Algorithms and Interaction researching morphogenesis behavior. Their research uses computational tools studying sound and movement to establish form-making through a reactive and interactive process.
Designing in architecture is no longer just a clear and precisely setout discipline, there are many influences and methods that can be employed to reach an outcome to meet the desired need. Along the way though there are outcomes that weren’t intended however this is part of the evolution of design. The world is constantly changing and so as designers there is an evolution that we are also undergoing through our technological advances and research that allows us to better respond to the changing demands and needs of the built environment. In the field of architecture there is continual adaptation and testing of how we perceive and engage with the space surrounding us.
Every generation brings its own tools and the technological advances in the last few decades have changed the way in which architects addresses the method and output of design production. It also seems how we engage in spaces and our demands for these spaces have changed from previous generations. Kiesler theorises demand as driving the need for the innovation and evolution of design. Computational analyses has radically changed the appearance of buildings, how we perceive its form and its realization through new construction methods. As designers we have the freedom to choose how we want to engage with the design and building process to reach our chosen outcomes but will we be left behind if we do not embrace the technological movements?
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