Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jerwood Gallery website launched

The Jerwood Foundation have this week launched a new website for the gallery project we are working on. It has some more up to date images, news and other info on the project. Do have a look!
Friday, July 10, 2009

Our local guerilla gardener

We've always been fans of guerilla gardening - citizens planting flowers, or vegetables, in patches of unloved urban dirt. So we were particularly pleased to see that even Essex now has its own guerilla gardener - the "selfstyled Human Shrub". And he's made it into the Guardian.

'The self-styled Human Shrub, covered in green foliage, struck for the second time on Sunday when he replaced weeds with flowers to transform dormant plant containers in Colchester, eastern England...The shrub, whose identity remains a secret, first emerged earlier this year when he protested in full plant regalia outside the town hall against Colchester council's plan to turf over rose beds to save money. He waved a banner urging people to "save his brothers the shrubs, and sisters the roses".'

In a wonderful clash of cultures, the council member responsible for parks said "If the Human Shrub is crossing dual carriageways in order to make a political point then I think he is being very irresponsible." I'm not sure health and safety was the first thing on the mind of this wonderful reincarnation of the ancient Green Man. Green Men have had a particular presence in the east of England and we love this new one with his full costume of moss.
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jerwood Gallery wins planning

We were delighted to be granted planning permission last night for the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. There has been a great deal of local debate over the project, and the planning application seems to have set some kind of local record for the number of comments received - 365 in favour and 44 against. We were thrilled that it was in the end unanimously supported by the planning committee members.

We've had fantastic support from many local groups and individuals, so many thanks to everyone who has helped us in this process. We look forward to now developing the detailed design - the ambition is to start on site in spring 2010 and to open in early summer 2011.

The press release issued by the Jerwood Foundation can be downloaded here.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The trouble with Charles

Prince Charles's speech at the RIBA this week perfectly illustrated the difficulty of using words to describe architecture in any meaningful or specific way. On many levels, there was actually very little in his thesis that most contemporary architects would disagree with. Indeed, his statement that "Architecture defines the public realm, and it should help to define us as human beings, and to symbolize the way we look at the world; it affects our psychological well-being, and it can either enhance or detract from a sense of community" comes close to epitomising what most of our generation feel to be our primary responsibilities. Like Charles, we want to respond sensitively and intelligently to the context in which we build, and to involve communities in the process as fully as possible.

The trouble is that the same words can be used to describe very different outcomes when it comes to design. Responding sensitively to context can mean Poundbury pastiche or sculpted Gehry form-making, depending on your point of view. It is a shame that "the one mainstream figure with the profile to bring architecture to broad public notice" (AJ) doesn't get out more (or isn't allowed to) to talk to real architects about what they are trying to achieve. Has the Prince visited Accordia, for example? or talked to Fat about New Islington? (Sam Jacobs also has good comment on the Prince here.)

It is a shame that the prince is so well minded by his 'traditional' friends that he never gets into a proper conversation. The stilted exchange of formalities face-to-face and the tide of 'comment' in the media to which he cannot respond is no good substitute.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jerwood Gallery submitted for planning

We should have posted about this earlier, but our designs for the proposed new Jerwood Gallery in Hastings were submitted for planning around a month ago. We had three days of public exhibition/consultation in Hastings following the submission, with over 2000 people through the doors, and we were very pleased that despite some of the controversy about the project, the vast majority of the feedback was extremely positive. Thanks to everyone who came along!

Above are a couple of images of the project and the model that we showed at the exhibition (click for a larger version). The cladding of the gallery is proposed to be a dark pewter glazed ceramic rainscreen, similar in tone to some of the mathematical tiles local to the area, which we hope will catch and reflect the wonderful seaside light and the changing weather, dematerialising the mass of the building to a certain extent. The glaze has an oily sheen and a hand-made quality (we have been talking to a small local glaze manufacturer) which we hope will give the building texture and interest close-up as well as the larger-scale effect of the tiling.

The other buildings that form the masterplan (which we developed for Hastings Borough Council) and the landscaping of the new public space are being designed by Tim Ronalds and J&L Gibbons Landscape Architects and it's been a really fruitful collaboration.

In due course we will post more detail about the project up here, but we thought a quick update was overdue!
Friday, September 26, 2008

First project on site

It is tiny step, but on the other side of the country, our first project authored as HAT is currently having its foundations poured! Another milestone. Here in the studio, we are busy but today enjoying the lovely September sunshine over the fields that we overlook - seen here first thing in the morning.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Saving CO2

My old friends at Worldchanging report on, and helpfully reproduce the graph from, a McKinsey report on the costs of reducing carbon emissions (so I'm hotlinking on to it below). It's quite an interesting one as we are always being asked by clients and friends what the best way is to save energy in buildings, often with a glint in the questioner's voice that suggests they are rather looking forward to installing some technologically-advanced wizardry that will make them feel 'innovative' and special. And always, we give a fairly unsexy answer that, well, super-insulation and really efficient heating systems will save you more energy than all the mini wind-turbines you could possibly cram on your roof.

This report also suggests this is true on a global scale. The most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions is through insulation. It is actually cost-negative - and the most cost-negative - as it saves money through reducing energy use. More efficient lighting, air conditioning and heating also score very highly - and are cost-negative - compared to many of the technologies that get a higher profile such as wind, or carbon capture. So globally, it is most economic to focus on improving building stock, before building wind farms.

This shouldn't be surprising, as the idea of using less energy first, before finding ways to make it 'sustainably' is common sense. But we still aren't seeing, in developed countries, let alone the less developed, widespread strategies that upgrade the efficiency of the building stock wholescale (existing and new-build). It's just a bit unsexy and means interfering in privately held property, which requires masses of monitoring and bureaucracy. It's also an area where it is more difficult to lever in private capital, unlike contracting a company to build a generating facility where they will be guaranteed a good market for all their product, all the time.

It is also something clearly that needs to be addressed across the globe, and particularly in the cities that are currently growing exponentially with formal and informal new-build, and not just in cold climates but in hot too (insulation keeps heat out as well as in, so can reduce the need for air conditioning). How are Indian or Chinese building regulations on insulation these days? Making buildings better may be cheap, but it is certainly complex to implement.