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Architectural Challenges – a holiday medley!?

Architectural Challenges - a holiday medley!?
Mystery Cornish Tower

Holiday Work

Over the Christmas season, a number of good friends who had come to notice my new direction in life, approached me to comment on some unusual projects they are planning for the future. These architectural challenges included;

No. 1 – a transformation of very modest loft into a more impressive waterfront pad suitable for hot-desking or residential accommodation.

No. 2 – the very careful addition of a terrace to a turret apartment sitting four storeys up without adequate fire escape.

No. 3 – the development of a plot of land adjacent to an end terrace house. It has a lovely westerly aspect but sits very close to telegraph poles and overhead lines.

No. 4 – an extension for a detached home provide disabled accommodation for a growing son needing a new bathroom and more suitable access.

A Friend’s Opinion

I was absolutely flattered to be asked for my opinion by these friends. I did made it clear that I am a long way off being an Architect with a capital ‘A’ though!  It was interesting to note that each one of these requests shared common features:

a) a magnificent location

b) a sensitive planning issue

c) Owners who weren’t sure whether to make changes or not and how they would go about it if they did.

My attention then turned to my training so far and how I would go about giving my limited amateur advice.

Firstly, I wanted desperately to solve the problems and do all the work but, obviously, I’m not allowed to do that yet!! Secondly, I realised that I needed to provide some thought provoking images and scenarios that would help them focus on the important issues. Ultimately, I wanted to draw each one and just make a concept sketch for them to take to a real Architect. Who could know… it might lead to a job later!

It would be unprofessional of me to share images of these properties and to divulge where they are. Instead, I have shown here some of my thoughts in pictures and welcome comments from anyone wishing to contribute comments on these projects; good or bad.

Office desk on sand pit with worker having bear feet in the sand

Hot Desking or Home

This one started me thinking about how I work and what would be important in a new environment; especially if I were working in a space with others.

Bare feet in the sand seemed like a good idea! Here are a few more funky ideas picked out by the online mag Dezeen  (just click the link to read)

It looks like this article by Harvard Business Review have the answer… natural light is the winner for workspaces!

Belfast lost its iconic landmark clock on one of city's most historic buildings at Castle Place - Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-8-2018

Fire Prevention over Fire Escape

I was shocked to discover that there have been over 250 fires in heritage buildings in 2018 – some fatal, and most devastating.

An interesting article by Richard Forrest of BuildingConservation.com discusses the need for prevention rather than escape. Altering historic buildings for fire escapes and changing age old doors to fire doors or creating sealed fire exits are not always possible in listed buildings.

Avoiding a fire in the first place is absolute priority. This doesn’t help if the fire is started intentionally of course!

A garage extension allowing for a telegraph pole and a bedroom window!

Cables & Power Lines

Looking into the potential of the plot in west Cornwall I discovered Undergrounding! 

I also found, a rather technical document produced by Powerwatch.org.uk  explaining the implications of living near power lines.

Fortunately – after a cup of tea and a good look round the cottage now being prepared as a holiday home – we all quickly realised that a nice big garage would be quite enough. This would ensure the saleability of the house in the future and not overstep the property’s maximum value.

Abacas bath which lifts around the patient before filling.

Better Disabled Living

A very brave family of eight are working with a Government scheme to find new living arrangements for their son Louis. With all his complications that require round the clock care, Louis is now reaching his teens and needs better equipment and sanitary arrangements.

A sympathetic landlord has granted them a private rental for a minimum five year period and is looking at proposals to extend or transform the house to ease the situation for Louis.

There are two possible options for conversion, both with compromises. The process prior to completing plans will be lengthy to be sure Louis has the best environment for living well.

Architecture has developed considerably in this area, and this publication by the Design Council “Inclusion by Design” is worth a look.


“Natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking stalwarts like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and premium perks including on-site childcare “

Harvard Business Review The #1 Office Perk? Natural LightJeanne C. Meister
SEPTEMBER 03, 2018

Back to Books!

So, there it is… one month off and yet loads of architectural challenges to think about. My reason for sharing this with you was to illustrate the plethora of issues that an Architect may face in his or her daily work. This in itself is a lesson for me going forward to my new career.

As this was quite a long blog, next week I will focus on just one subject which relates to our next project at University. I will be sharing my thoughts on Tectonic Culture – and no, up until now, I did not know that was a thing!

Happy New Year!! Lets hope its full of nice surprises and lots of new experiences.

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