Completing the architecture

Tracey Wiles

 

 

Tracey Wiles reflects on the design ethos of Make’s successful and expanding interiors team.

Make is not particularly well known for its interior design, but over the last ten years the team has had the privilege of delivering fully integrated interiors for many of our buildings. We now have a growing team and an amazing portfolio of exemplar interiors projects encompassing virtually every sector, with more exciting opportunities in the pipeline – including working collaboratively for the first time with other architectural practices. We have recently been commissioned to design the interiors for two large-scale residential buildings designed by Stanton Williams for the Canary Wharf Group, encompassing more than 300 apartments – an incredibly exciting opportunity for the team!

Many architects believe they can do both interiors and architecture. This can certainly be true, but the result is only exemplary if the architect has a focused passion for interior design. Our dedicated interiors team includes both formally trained architects and interior designers, and some who are a combination of both! What we all have in common is a love of detail and a passion for carrying an architectural concept from macro to micro so that it is seamlessly integrated into a design.

We especially relish the challenge of delivering ‘turnkey’ projects, where we design, select and procure every aspect of a building. It is on these all-encompassing projects that the expertise and passion of Make’s interiors team really makes an impact. We are now working towards the possibility of realising every last detail of our buildings, both exterior and interior.

Our designs reflect our belief that the journey through a building starts as soon as it comes into view. Its context, its presence on the street, its facade and its threshold all feed directly into the interior – the hierarchy of spaces, their scale, proportions and detail. It is important to trace the steps of the end user, whether visitor, resident or employee, to fully understand their experience of transitioning through a space. We spend a great deal of time sketching, model making and mentally walking through our buildings to familiarise ourselves with the user’s journey.

Harrods Escalator Hall Private home

The interiors team does not sit in isolation in the Make studio – we are fully integrated and work alongside the project teams. Our approach is not to simply ‘plug’ interiors into buildings; instead we carefully consider scale, materials, detail, services, joinery, furniture, fittings and accessories, all under the umbrella of a strong overarching concept. We create interiors responsibly, addressing programme, servicing and maintenance, with a robust understanding of buildability. Our concepts are always unique to each individual project, addressing client, agent and market briefs and responding to a range of different budgets with solutions that range from off-the-shelf adaption to fully bespoke designs.

One of the most important crossovers between interiors and architecture is the maintainability and usability of services. We take great care to ensure that these are compatible with the intended user and that visual impact is minimised. Working as a fully integrated architecture and interiors team means we have the advantage of understanding the services from the perspective of the user, the installer and the maintenance staff.

We have become adept at using off-site modular prefabrication, which allows services to be integrated and components delivered to site fully finished. Every part of the fit-out is treated like a building component. This minimises wet trades on site, thus reducing construction programmes, the crossover of trades, wastage and defects.

Joinery is a particular passion of mine – not only its quality and craftsmanship but also its ability to define and form interior spaces and integrate services. We also consider furniture selection to be an integral part of the design process. This aspect is always of the utmost importance to the end user so we never treat it as an afterthought or a separate package, but rather as part of a holistic design ethos.

Make’s Rathbone Square development is a fantastic example of a ‘turnkey’ project that fully embodies the interiors team’s design philosophy. The detailing, materiality and expression have become a ‘red thread’ that is pulled through the scheme from beyond the site boundary into the heart of the buildings and all the way through to the apartments themselves.

The moment the user touches the bespoke entrance gate they experience a feeling of quality, permanence and longevity. The subsequent door uses a handle with a similar texture and feel and the bespoke lighting and signage are designed using the same material. These meticulously considered, high-quality details are entirely unique to the project and create an amazing journey that gives the user a sense of belonging and a strong connection to the buildings.

Rathbone Square

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BIM

Johannes-Renner

 

 

Johannes Renner, Make’s project technology manager, discusses BIM and its increasingly important role in the design and delivery of projects.
 
With the advent of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the move away from traditional two-dimensional drafting methods, we are fully aware of the implications this has for the future of architecture. The UK Government is heavily promoting and mandating the use of BIM on all its projects by 2016 and because of this, our clients are increasingly asking for BIM and, to some extent, simply expecting it! To meet and exceed client expectations, Make has been implementing BIM on new projects at the very early stages, because the provision of a BIM model gives certainty to the client and creates confidence in the final outcome.

However, at Make we are not just adopting BIM to fulfil what is required; we want to go further and leverage the power of this amazing new technology. By utilising the full spectrum that is available through the use of BIM, we can improve our efficiency and the ability to adjust quickly to changing demands. Using the model not just for drawing documentation and production but also to harvest building information to populate and create detailed schedules, is a huge benefit of this process.

We are currently using BIM on four large-scale projects, ranging from residential to mixed use and commercial buildings – including our state-of-the-art 5 Broadgate scheme, where we implemented BIM before other companies were even considering it, putting us way ahead of the competition.

5-Broadgate-Make-(c)John-Madden

By not restricting ourselves to just one BIM authoring software, we will always have access to the latest trends and innovations available from the building software industry. This gives us incredible flexibility to respond to different design challenges and client requirements, enabling us to improve collaboration and coordination with engineers, consultants and co-architects. Ultimately this means we always get the best available design solution for our clients.

We have established a core BIM group at Make, bringing together a wide range of expertise and experience. Having this team on hand provides valuable support to our design teams throughout the project lifecycle: from commencement through to design, construction and the hand-over of a data-rich model to the client at the end of the project.

MAKE_BIM_Strategy

Make’s BIM team gives ad-hoc advice to the architects to guide them through the process, as well as providing practical training and knowledge-sharing throughout the studio. This long-term approach gives us a competitive advantage and is helping us to get ready for the future, where BIM will be fully embedded in our daily work as a fundamental part of the design process. Additionally we always research how to connect new and different technologies developed across other industries, to further enhance the use of BIM models. We are now ready to take BIM to the next level.

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Outside-in

Ian Wale

 

 

 

Ian Wale describes the setting up of Make’s new landscape team.

I started working at Make in January 2014 to establish an in-house landscape team, one that would sit alongside the architects and interior designers, broadening the professional services that the practice provides. Landscape had been on Make’s agenda for a number of years and it so happened that the studio’s tenth anniversary year coincided with the implementation of the new team.

Make appealed to me personally because of its studio environment and the company ethos, as well as its incredibly diverse portfolio of projects. Make’s huge variety of clients and projects presents a fantastic opportunity to produce some great work as part of a truly integrated approach. There is always something exciting going on and it’s amazing to be a part of the company, especially as it moves into its second decade.

Having been a member of the wider consultant team on the London Wall Place development for several years before joining Make, I knew that the practice truly valued landscape. I have come to see that this approach runs deeper than just being a project-driven requirement. I have found a genuine interest in landscape and public realm at all levels. This stems from a real understanding of the value that good-quality open space can bring to buildings and the wider built environment. Because of this it has been a relatively simple transition into the Make studio.

Joining the practice has been an incredible learning curve due to the close collaboration between myself and the architectural teams within the studio. I have found it very rewarding to pass on my knowledge in what has become a really effective exchange of information. Being integrated within the studio means this happens constantly, allowing us to assimilate ideas more quickly and efficiently.

Riverside development

Riverside development

One of the main attractions for me about Make is its lack of house style – each project is approached without preconceptions. This ensures that our design proposals are fully responsive to the context, intended uses and client wishes. A consequence of this creative freedom is a constant supply of energy and enthusiasm that drives the design process forward, as well as an eagerness to investigate new materials and methods for the good of the project and the environment.

Key to our design approach is a passion for nature and wildlife. It is vital that we enhance biodiversity within our developments, particularly on inner-city sites. The challenge of providing for social and cultural uses and requirements while achieving habitat creation, is one that we thoroughly embrace at Make.

Sketching is also key to our creativity. Considerable emphasis is placed on free-hand drawing and the benefits that it brings to the design process. We use sketching throughout the life of a project, not just at the initial concept stage, for idea development, detailing and presentation. We run drawing classes within the studio and also contribute to Sketchmob, a social sketching group that runs monthly events around London.

My first twelve months at Make have been incredibly exciting and I have been involved in a wide range of projects, taking us from Basildon to Hong Kong. As part of our ongoing work with the University of Oxford, the Big Data Institute (BDI) involves the creation of a wonderful landscaped setting that includes a new arrival plaza and a woodland garden. Forming part of a wider masterplan, these spaces will play a key role in the success of the Old Road Campus.

Internal landscaping

Internal landscaping in the Big Data Institute’s atrium, University of Oxford

In the Isle of Dogs we are creating a series of new public garden spaces as part of the Meridian Gate development. Built over a new basement car park, the landscape involves the planting of a large number of semi-mature trees and the creation of dedicated play space and a boules area. Integrating sustainable urban drainage and substantial biodiversity benefits, the development will provide much-needed new open space in the heart of London’s Docklands.

Landscape2a-(c)Make

Meridian Gate landscape concept study

 

Meridian Gate landscape concept studies

Meridian Gate landscape concept study

Currently under construction, London Wall Place is about to see the creation of a striking new inner-city park. Focused around the remarkable heritage remains of the Roman City Wall and St Alphage Church tower, the new public realm creates a series of gardens that will become a new destination within the City of London.

We are hugely excited about the future of Make’s landscape architecture team. The first year has been great fun, seeing landscape become an integrated part of the studio and contributing to a fantastic portfolio of projects. We aim to continue this great work, and also look to follow the success of Make’s interiors team by engaging with other architectural practices. By combining bold design with a balanced approach to social and cultural needs, biodiversity and the environment to create places in which we can all take pride, we hope to establish landscape architecture as a valued design service in its own right.

Find out more about Meridian Gate or London Wall Place on the Make website.
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Future of architecture – Gavin Mullan

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is last instalment in the series, from Make partner Gavin.

Gavin Mullan
Gavin Mullan
Make Partner since 2013

I see the industry today as being at a critical point of opportunity. As a student architect I am only too aware of the amount of education it takes to become even an average architect these days. I think young architects today need to listen to experienced, much wiser architects who have seen successes and failures, but we also need to establish a style for this era! I see this as including a much more energy-efficient approach. Solar energy is becoming a huge part of everything architects are involved in today. If this industry grabs all the potential solar power possesses, as well as other natural resources, we can inspire the world to become more green and totally energy efficient. My generation of architects can really set a new style and a new standard of architecture for years to come; if we put our heads together we can come up with something exquisite.

Will the car be here in ten years? Today’s streets have the same structure as those of thousands of years ago, when pedestrians and transportation coexisted. Vehicles of today and tomorrow need high-speed routes, while walkers need quiet itineraries. I’m interested in reduced dependency on the car and how the roadway could become detached from the pavement, like urban railways, and how architecture and urbanism could deconstruct the street corridor as we know it today.

On a different note, what also excites me about the next ten years is the unforeseen potential for there to be a discovery that fundamentally changes the way we all approach architecture and design. I see the seemingly exponential development of technology sparking demand for a new building type, fuelled by a new generation of architects. Vernacular will fundamentally change for good.

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The future of architecture – Andrew Taylor

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is Make partner Andrew.

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
Make Partner since 2012

Reinvention and re-engagement: that’s what I see for our built environment over the next ten years. It will be a time of celebrating the construction industry’s fluidity, of blurring the boundaries which demarcate the architect’s role, and, above all, of unprecedented levels of public engagement.

As advances in building techniques and technology continue to accelerate, the construction industry may diverge further into highly-specialised niches. Will architects be able to keep pace with these new disciplines? Will architects become overly-specialised? More than ever, we are required to be ‘jacks-of-all-trades’, because that is exactly what those who inhabit our buildings are. It’s only through a deeper understanding of the diverse users we design for that we are able to create efficient, sustainable, long-lasting and beautiful architecture.

andrew-taylor-quote-v2

If the trajectory of the past ten years continues, the mechanisms by which we learn what people think of their built environment will only intensify. The convergence of virtual and physical networks has already begun, with location-based social media and advanced spatial mapping bringing discourse on architecture into the devices we carry around. While technology vies to augment reality, the power of the built environment never ceases to diminish. There is no substitute for physical spaces which accommodate a diverse range of social interaction. Such occurrences are increasingly catalysed by technological trends and designers must harness these currents to create agile architecture.

As long as we continue to listen to who we are designing for and become more adept at following the forces which shape society, I think the next ten years will see some incredibly bold additions to our built environment.

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The future of architecture – Alejandro Nieto

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is Make partner Alejandro.

Alejandro Nieto
Alejandro Nieto
Make Partner since 2011

Ten years ago, I arrived in London from Venezuela – the country in which I grew up, studied and dreamt about becoming an architect. This is therefore a good time to look back and reflect both personally and collectively on all those years and what we have learned and achieved, but more importantly, on how we can make a positive impact on what we do next.

The contrast I experienced on my arrival in the UK and the juxtaposition of the two countries allowed me to develop a broader vision and a more pragmatic understanding. The fact that the Olympics were held in London made me think this was ‘the right place to be’ as an architect, as a developer and as a citizen. Everything was possible; London was not only ‘an Olympic city’ but also the model for a new type of architecture.

But sometimes too much is too much. We saw how the world economy collapsed. There was a deafening silence in the architectural discourse; fewer projects were getting built, while lots of people lost their jobs. We were in a situation similar to the place where I came from. This seemed to be a good moment to rethink creatively and act in a measured way, learning from architecture that good ideas always have limits.

I believe that these experiences have set the ground for an architecture which is more rational, collaborative and affordable. It is willing to explore new ways of solving problems and integrate new technologies with environmental issues to produce long-standing, more efficient and ultimately more beautiful buildings, like the ones we try to design at Make. So I am optimistic about what is to come – I expect that the next ten years will be even better and I hope to be part of it … so count me in!

alejandro-nieto-quote-v2

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Put a lid on it

By Ben Stuart

Roofing solutions might not top the bill as the most glamorous part of a building, but get it right and they can be as memorable as any other element. Think of Wilkinson Eyre’s retractable engineering genius at Wimbledon or any one of Zaha’s sinuous structures.

But first and foremost the roof has to be functional, could we even argue here that form HAS to follow function? Alongside the aesthetics, a roof primarily has to be watertight, it also has to be well insulated to reduce energy consumption and in the case of 5 Broadgate – and the majority of commercial buildings – it has to be robust enough to hold a whole lot of plant equipment that forms the hidden engine of the building.

Roofing

5 Broadgate is a concrete decked, steel framed construction with a large, flat roof, virtually the size of a football pitch. ‘Hot melt’ roofing is often the go to solution for projects of this nature – whereby bitumen is heated to melting point and applied in two thin layers, with a reinforcement layer between. British Land has used hot melt on the majority of their buildings on the Broadgate estate to date, even as far back as the first buildings in 1984, so they have first-hand experience of its reliability and durability.

5 Broadgate roofing installation

One of its primary benefits over alternative solutions is the speed with which it can be applied. On a project of this size, many of the construction packages are deliberately overlapped in order to accelerate the process. With a hot melt solution a second layer can be applied almost immediately onto the first, tested for leaks and the insulation installed. This was an important advantage because it allowed for the plant-supporting concrete overslab to be laid fairly quickly, a crucial factor on a site that’s home to 1,000 construction workers and over 700 tonnes of plant.

5 Broadgate roof

But it’s not a panacea – a hybrid solution with cold plastics was employed on several tricky details where the membrane was penetrated. And although hot melt is 50 per cent recyclable, it’s not the most sustainable solution on the market.

Creativity in roofing materials is still needed – even if it is purely for function rather than form – certainly if waterproof concrete or a cold plastic solution is advanced enough to bring down the cost and timescale factors, they’ll undoubtedly take the place of hot melt as the go-to-roofing-solution for buildings of this nature.

5 Broadgate roof5 Broadgate roof

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The future of architecture – Jet Chu

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is ex-Make partner, Jet.

Rebecca Woffenden
Jet Chu
Make Partner since 2010

China is a big country with a huge population. Lots of skyscrapers and high-rise apartment buildings are being built here at the moment and living vertically will soon be a normal way of life for many people. Because a building is such a large object and has to last for many years, it is really important how it is incorporated into the bigger picture of a community and a society. At this stage, most people in China are just paying attention to a building’s appearance, yet in the coming ten years it seems to me there are two other main areas to focus on.

The first is sustainable design and living green. People have a growing interest in and awareness of our impact on the planet and the environment. With new advancements in technology, we should actively use more natural and renewable energies in our day-to-day living, and so reduce our impact.

The second focus is that as more people move into high-rise living, it is important to think about how to rebuild a neighbourhood and a sense of community. In essence, the challenge is how can we bring the ground to the sky?jet-chu-quote

I think the future of architecture should incorporate both of these focuses – using high-tech ideas to provide a modern style of living that also minimises the impact on the environment. We are already working towards that goal but there needs to be much more force. A building is about four walls and a roof in the end. It all depends on how we use what we know to change the way we live for the better.

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The importance of post-occupancy evaluation for our future built environment

“As architects, we should care as much about our buildings after delivery as we do before.”
By Hannelore Christiaens

Many architects see the handover of a building as the final stage of their involvement in a project. At Make however, we believe that architects should not stop caring about their building at the point of delivery. Ironically, it is precisely after this point that some of the most valuable lessons about architecture and design can be learnt. An honest reflection is therefore a must: Are the users satisfied with the building? Is the building performing as well as intended? The collection of qualitative and quantitative research methods employed to answer these questions is called post-occupancy evaluation or POE, and Make has been doing this for their built projects wherever possible.

Why?

Why would an architect start from tabula rasa for each design? Verifying if a building is, indeed, working as intended would be a major contribution to an enhanced design process. The result of doing a POE can only be positive: true successes can be recognised and repeated in the future, and if certain aspects of a building do not meet expectations or if innovations are missing their targets, these will be revealed. Collecting knowledge from several projects can lead to a better understanding of comfort in general, and a better thesis to begin with once a new design project has to be initiated. Every POE will produce a particular fragment of information and by carrying out these evaluations repeatedly, this fragmented knowledge will become more and more coherent.

Lessons learnt

Project cycle

Therefore, it is not only important to have a client or user heavily involved in the design process before construction, but also for the designer to be involved with the user experience after construction, which is a phase where architects are usually left out.

Relationship between client and design team

User and design process

Practically, the lessons learnt from post-occupancy evaluations on a project can then be utilised to bring about change for that particular project and to inform future design in the following ways:

  • Intervention design: altering aspects of the building that can be changed relatively easily to increase user satisfaction (short term)
  • Renovation design: using more appropriate space divisions, materials, systems and building skins when renovating the building (medium term)
  • Future building design: problems that can’t be resolved in the current building should be avoided in future projects (long term)

POE and sustainability

POE is especially important in sustainable architecture, where it serves as a hypothesis testing for innovative projects by testing and monitoring them after completion.

Innovation and new techniques can bring unintended consequences, so it is important to see which projects are moving in the right direction.

Sustainable buildings are not just about one way of construction or combining a few techniques, we have to understand the effectiveness of sustainable design strategies in relation to context, climate, scale, type of use, user, client and city. POE can reveal why a certain technique works well on one project but fails on another by surveying actual performance, any improper usage which can cancel out environmental goals and the social and psychological effects of a building on its users. This will lead to even more successful designs with a high level of comfort. Newly built environment will therefore progressively perform better than those preceding them.

Existing standards and methods

Many kinds of POEs already exist, although they are not often used. There is not a single method which is the absolute standard, and making one ideal POE is not possible due to the unique nature of every individual project.

This adds to the complexity of implementing POEs. Quantitative and qualitative POEs, or hybrids, have been developed, covering different lifespans, techniques and processes (e.g. the Portfolio Technique incl. Probe, Soft Landings) and there are several ways of sharing knowledge (e.g. CarbonBuzz). For the projects here at Make that have been evaluated, the techniques were assessed and the appropriate method used for each case.

Cost

One of the main reasons why POE is not yet widely implemented is due to the cost. Over the long term, however, and when POE is well implemented, the benefits can be huge and definitely larger than the initial costs. A study has found the following: ‘The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory did a cost-benefit study: they found that for every dollar spent on POEs, they saved ten dollars on operating and redesign costs.’ Research Design Connections (2003)

Summary

The knowledge of how users experience a building after its delivery is an important yet often neglected source of information for architects, which stands in stark contrast to the level of interest and hard work that the architect puts into understanding the needs of the future users in the design process. POE provides this feedback and, no matter which stage of its lifecycle a building is in, the results will always be useful.

Figuratively, POE replaces the ‘blank sheet’ of the architect with transparent paper which is placed over experience, knowledge and previous successes, from which the appropriate lines can be copied. New insights are used for fine tuning new buildings, improving design for future buildings, and renovating existing buildings, leading to cost savings and a better user experience in healthy and comfortable environments.

Therefore, the sooner implementation becomes universal, the sooner the benefits will be reaped as POE takes on an increasing and, ultimately, indispensable role in the building process in the future.

Notes
Blog post based on: CHRISTIAENS, H., “Implementing post occupancy evaluation into common sustainable design practice – a reflection”, The University of Edinburgh, 2012; and sources referenced to in this paper.
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Bricks – not just for house builders

by David Patterson

Lightweight materials such as glass and steel are very much de rigeur (think of any of the recent BCO winner and they’ll most likely have predilection for one of the two), but the humble brick is having a quiet revival, particularly here at Make, as its sense of permanence, of durability, of tradition can not be beaten.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

The BRE’s latest Green Guide to Specification has assigned the highest possible accreditation, A+, to every external wall it rated that contained brickwork. Bricks thermal mass capabilities are superb. And in a 2007 investigation by RICS brickwork beat just about every other external skin option on price.[1] As the preserve of the volume house builder for decades that last fact may not come as a surprise, but at Make, we have been keen to understand how bricks can be used in a building where design and function do not have to be mutually exclusive. We’ve been researching this material, talking to colleagues and visiting manufacturers in order to develop our knowledge of brick and further understand its potential.

We’ve been exploring how brick can be used on the Amenities Building project for the University of Nottingham – a bar and dining hall on their agricultural campus that has to be robust and sustainable. We looked at how the appearance of brick can be used to create a warm and welcoming environment, both internally and externally.  In addition we considered how it can be used to form efficient service voids within the wall structure and by manipulating the bond in order to achieve calm acoustic environments. We spent time with our client visiting UK brick manufacturers and constructing sample walls on site to evaluate the materials in context.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

For Taberner House in Croydon, we’re working closely with Arup Materials and are considering innovative options for brickwork.  It is our aspiration to make the brickwork ‘earn its keep’ by contributing to the structural performance of the building rather than the conventional approach of brick as a cladding material.  This presents significant challenges as very few modern buildings have been built utilising a structural brickwork approach.

One thing I’ve noticed while working on these two projects is that the UK’s brick tradition is in danger of being lost as the large conglomerates buy up the smaller firms. There are some fine examples of design-led brick buildings in this country, now there needs to be a focus on the product and process to entice more architects to convert.

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

Amenities Building, University of Nottingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.brick.org.uk/about-the-brick-development-association/why-brick/

You can follow David on Twitter: @DavidGP72

Or find out more about each project on our website: The Amenities Building, Taberner House

 

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