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What is a shadow gap?

Category: Architecture November 12th, 2012 by mbc

A recorded episode of Grand Designs introduced me to shadow gaps. Apparently the gaps had cost £10,000 in the house in question. One of the patrons questioned the wisdom of this architect led spend and that left me wondering, just what are shadow gaps?

Well, it turns out they are a grandiose term for a space between two surfaces. For example between the frame of a set of shutters and the window frame / wall against which they are installed (as in the photograph below) or between a plastered wall and a door lining. By leaving a narrow gap, the two surfaces ‘float’ apart rather than being butted up tightly together. The gap will usually be in shadow and when properly executed is both attractive to the eye and practical in that it leaves a gap to allow breathing, contraction or expansion. Also, where installing a new surface alongside a pre-existing one the shadow gap introduces a margin for error and removes the need for exact millimetre perfect measuring. This can be seen in the photograph of the shutters I installed retrospectively in the barn below – a relatively quick and easy job, made much easier by the gap between the wall and the shutters frame.

From Shutters

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The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

Category: Architecture October 16th, 2012 by mbc

So the Stirling prize was won by what seemed to be a long shot. I think two things blinded me to the potential of the eventual winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory. The first, the association with a supermarket (boo-hiss), or at least with the family that setup the supermarket. The second, the fact it was a lab, just how interesting can a laboratory be?…

Well, seemingly very interesting, very motivational and very inspirational, both as a piece of architecture and as a place to work. I must admit that my initial impression of some of elevations was that they were a little third-Reich (albeit a softened, gardened third-Reich). Having taken another look, with newly opened eyes, I have one thing to say…

I wish I worked there.

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The Stirling prize 2012

Category: Architecture October 11th, 2012 by mbc

Although high brow architecture prizes aren’t my usual territory, I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist.

Best if we pass over the Olympic stadium, which looks so much like so many other stadiums to the lively Lyric Theatre project. Highlighted on last nights BBC2 Culture Show, this looks to be a lovely, well designed quality development, informed by function and form rather than vanity and ego. I also rather like the bomb-shelter chic of The Hepworth, rarely has concrete looked so lovely.

The shortlist is well worth a look on ribastirlingprize.architecture.com

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Art – design – form – function #FrankLloydWright

Category: Architecture July 10th, 2012 by mbc

I was rather taken with this Frank Lloyd Wright observation that succinctly encapsulates the relationship between art and functional objects.

Art is a discovery and development of elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.

With reference to contemporary architecture, I think that the ‘beautiful forms’ part is too often overlooked in all but the most high-end projects.

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User Centred Design: Towards a New Sustainable Architecture

Category: Architecture June 5th, 2012 by mbc

I’ve previously mentioned the design ethos of Dieter Rams and this blog post on blacktansa.blogspot.co.uk made for a delightful reintroduction User Centred Design: Towards a New Sustainable Architecture.

This quote from Dieter Rams contained in the post draws a really important line between designer and artist…

A designer who wants to achieve good design must not regard himself as an artist who, according to taste and aesthetics, is merely dressing up products with a last-minute garment. The designer must be the “gestaltingenieur” or creative engineer.

The phrase creative engineer sums up the hands-on grittyness coupled with blue-sky thinking that is required of a good designer.

Dieter’s 10 commandments of what constitutes good design are well worth listing…

Innovative
Honest
Useful
Long lasting
Aesthetic
Thorough to the last detail
Understandable
Environmentally friendly
Unobtrusive
As little design as possible!

The blog post goes on to make some interesting points in regard to user centered architectural design, that is design that requires the designer to…

…create spaces specifically designed around the needs of their users, which reinforce the cultural and philosophical values that they hold. They are not interested initially in what the building will look like, but how it works and what benefits it will bring in terms of reinforcing their values and how it will deliver measurable improvements in the way they conduct their core activities.

The post continues with a call-to-arms for…

a radical new sustainable architecture, moulded and shaped to satisfy the needs of its intended users. It will be rational, logical and inherently beautiful and most importantly, capable of responding to the massive challenges that our society faces.

…that is User Centred Design through which we can establish a new Sustainable Architecture.

Worth a read.

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…