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In the workshop: months of collaboration become reality © R H Partnership Architects



HANDS ͻON “...Stop, collaborate, and listen...” – Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice, 1990 WORDS ANDREW DRUMMOND

© Tim Rawle

There may not be scientific formula for this, but I suspect there may well be a definable relationship between the size of a practice and the scale of their projects – the bigger the studio, the bigger the projects? As projects get larger, modern procurement methods typically add many layers of management. Every layer increases the distance from the creative hand of the architect and the experienced hand of the maker. Collaboration on large-scale projects with multiple stakeholders is essential, but is it all too remote from the act of designing and making? There is a danger that the process becomes the product. It is the creativity of concept and the quality of construction that have the biggest impact on the life of the building and its occupants. Occasionally, a large project can offer an opportunity to remind

Design evolution sketches © R H Partnership Architects


us of the benefits of direct collaboration – the shorter distance between architect and maker. The opportunity The opportunity for direct collaboration arose from a simple requirement for a reception desk, with a site at the base of an atrium that ensured the desk would be viewed from all sides and above. The project’s story is complex, but a few key milestones through the process stood out as reminders of the benefits of direct collaboration that I will share with you. Optimise for fabrication The concept design of the desk was based on a pure ellipse; the built form is based on what became known as ‘Lloyd’s Ellipse’ (named after the CAD specialist at the joinery company). This subtle reshaping of the external form allowed us to reduce the number of CNC moulds used for the outer panels from thirteen to four, saving materials, cost, and time. Experiment and innovate The optimisation of the shape and the mould design allowed moulds to be reused for multiple panel fabrication, but this led to a problem. After the panel was pressed, it needed time to cool down before being removed from the mould. The first panels that were removed ‘curled’ at the edges – a step too far with the double-curvature surface!

Architect R H Partnership Architects HI-MACS® specialist BSF Solid Surfaces Joinery, CAD/CAM DLD Bespoke Solutions

The fabricator drilled out the CNC mould and ran through a cold water feed to rapidly cool the panel, speeding up production. The designer’s eye The final opportunity during fabrication was a more hands-on, instinctive act. Whilst the overall shape of the outer shell was well defined at design stage, working with the fabricator we were able to mock up the top edge line and adjust by eye before cutting. Stop, collaborate, and listen If this small but essential item of fit-out was part of a larger project, would the same opportunities to optimise, innovate, and improve have been available, or lost? Create opportunity, consider all aspects of your designs, whatever the scale, and remember three key words... Stop: think about the materiality of your creation; Collaborate: seek out the experts; Listen: immerse yourself in their knowledge.

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Cambridge Architecture Gazette CA71  

CA71 Spring/Summer 2016 issue. Teamwork

Cambridge Architecture Gazette CA71  

CA71 Spring/Summer 2016 issue. Teamwork

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