NEXT GENERATION DESIGN NOTTINGHAM
Design and Construction Workshop
N E X T G E N E R AT I O N D E S I G N The Next Generation Design (NGD) project was an initiative to engage and inspire local school children into engineering, architecture and design. To ensure the NGD project was a success, Arup and LD teamed up with Scale Rule; a Community Interest Company focused on promoting inclusivity in the built environment.
The project aimed to engage local school children in a design competition to produce designs for a community pavilion to be displayed in a prominent location in Central Nottingham. The benefits of the project for all involved were clear to see, which lead to Arup Community Engagement committing to funding the project. This funding, coupled with the contribution of a group of enthusiastic students and dedicated volunteers resulted in the project being a great success and as such the â€˜Social Shellâ€™ was born!
SCALERULE Scale Rule are engineers, architects and designers who are enthusiastic in teaching, designing, building and learning. They areâ€Ż a collective that seek to promote diversity and public engagement in our built environment by encouraging better representation in the industry and community participation on new projects. They engage people from all walks of life in the design process andâ€Żprovide opportunities for professionals to be better informed about the people for which they design.
The projects Scale Rule engage in allow designers to adopt different roles in the design and construction process than those that we usually hold; transforming engineers and architects into teachers, project managers, general contractors or joiners. Through these experiences the project team gains significant insight into the holistic design process which is not as readily available in a more traditional design team structure.
M AT T J O N E S
Arup is an independent firm of designers, engineers, architects, planners, consultants and technical specialists working across every aspect of todayâ€™s built environment. Our values underpin everything we do. This includes promoting and partaking in community engagement and charitable activities. We use our wide skill set to make real differences within the communities in which we live and work.
Arup provided structural design and construction expertise to the NGD Nottingham project, collaborating with talented local students and architects to achieve a challenging yet rewarding aim.
LEONARD DESIGN TEAM
D I M I TA R ZHELEV
E M I LY N A S O N
Our architects, designers and artists share a passion for design. We have a vast array of international, national and regional knowledge that confronts, interrogates and solves design issues across the fields of master planning, urban design, architecture, interiors, consultancy and imaging. Our values, strength of collaboration and individual uniqueness help shape Leonard Design and the work we produce.
I A N S TA P L E S
Our solutions are always responsive, thoughtful and sometimes provocative. An appropriate design solution can range from iconic to subtle and everywhere in-between.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION WORKSHOP
Arup and Leonard Design Architects organised and ran a weekend workshop in June 2018 for local school students. Te aim was to inspire, and to introduce the students to the built environment and the potential opportunities that could be provided by a career in engineering, architecture or design.
The NGD Nottingham team reached out to local schools to promote the opportunities on offer through the project. Many enthusiastic students from a number of schools were interested in learning more about design, engineering and architecture and applied to take part in our weekend workshop.
S C H O O L S I N V O LV E D :
South Wolds Academy
Belper School and Sixth Form
Nottingham Girls Academy
5. The Nottingham Emmanuel School
A. Workshop - Nottingham Trent University
Display - Nottingham Old Market Square
WORKSHOP The key aim for the weekend was to inform and inspire the students, expanding their knowledge and understanding of design, architecture and engineering. The workshop included a mix of short talks about architecture and engineering and a number of interactive exercises including drawing and model making, with an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. These exercises gave the students an introduction into the basics of architecture and structural engineering as well as an appreciation for the process of developing a concept design.
• A pavilion is an architectural space that can have multiple uses or functions. • What will its use be? It might be used as shelter, seating, meeting point, cafe, theatre, events, exhibitions, sports, play, relaxation, work and/or much, much more. • What will it achieve; is it open to the outside world or enclosed? • Is it several spaces or multiple spaces linked together? • Is it all on one level, or at multiple levels or platforms? • The main structural material will be timber, but think what other materials could be used to enhance the design.
• Why have design decisions been made? • What is the benefit of this?
• The pavilion will be constructed in a prominent location in central Nottingham. • It should fit a site no bigger than 10x10m on plan and 5m high. • It will likely be located in an outdoor setting.
• Who will use the pavilion? Adults, Children, families, professionals, everyone… animals? • Will different groups use it in different ways?
• How do you want people to feel inside? • How will your design work structurally? • How could your design be built?
The students were then given the brief; to design a pavilion to be constructed in the heart of Nottingham. This pavilion needed to be constructed primarily from timber and to be demountable for display in more than one location.
Demonstrate to the Judges:
Can you create a design manifesto: What is your design, why have you designed it that way, what is its purpose, who will use it, etc? Can you show scale in your sketches? Can you demonstrate how the design works in plan, section and elevation? Can you show how people will access and use the pavilion? Can you show how it might be constructed? The winning design should have clear objectives. Its form should be interesting and innovative and meet the pointâ€™s outlined in the groups Design Manifesto.
ABSTRACT N AT U R E
#1 Judges Remarks:
Interesting structural form and clever use of planted wall to complement the framing.
THE COOL COLE COMB
#2 Judges Remarks:
Interesting concept with repeating form of different sizes and an Innovative idea for people to interact with the structure.
THE TERRARIUM RUNNER UP
#3 Judges Remarks:
Simple but effective architectural concept and clever consideration of lighting.
THE SOCIAL SHELL WINNING DESIGN
#4 Judges Remarks:
Strong architectural concept, thought about buildability and consideration about structural integrity.
THE SOCIAL SHELL
Immediately after the winning design was chosen by the judges the design team from Arup and Leonard Design Architects got together to develop the winning proposal into an architectural concept, using all the sketches and models created during the workshop.
The concept for the pavilion was inspired by the flow of water as it slows and flows around or through an obstruction in a channel. The pavilion was intended to provide a place for people to congregate whilst passing nearby.
Early sketches and models from the students focussed on creating a form which mimicked the flow of water and would encourage a similar flow of people.
FORM FINDING The concept quickly moved from paper to digital modelling. Using Rhino and its parametric design plug in, Grasshopper, the design team created a parametric model of the concept to optimise the geometry. Using the Grasshopper script the team could immediately visualise the impact of altering the size and curvature of various elements.
The design team settled on two masses composed of four components which made up the form of the pavilion. The shell, is the core sheltered seating area of the pavilion, composed of vertical ribs restrained by a deep central spine, the ribs are also connected by thin horizontal fins. The bench reaches out from the shell with an undulating form, this element is composed entirely of vertical ribs and horizontal fins.
D E TA I L E D D E S I G N
ARCHITECTURE It was important that the Social Shell retained the exciting concepts that were conceived by the winning students as the baton was then handed over to the professional design teams to develop the ideas into a real piece of architecture with a considered aesthetic, that retained an inherent simplicity to enable it to be constructed by volunteers quickly, and demounted with equal ease, all to a defined budget. The overarching drive was not to lose the purpose that it was intended for – to provide opportunity for social interaction in a sheltered and comforting environment inspired by nature. We took the initial card model, with the concepts of wind and water, and brought it to life. The striking design is made up of wooden ‘fins’ and ‘ribs’ that slot into the ‘spine’ of the pavilion. These pieces are then stitched together by twine and a few strategic bolts.
We chose to use plywood as the primary material as it allowed for a flat pack design, which helped with transport and assembly. Also, the natural patina of the wood will grow and enhance the character of the shell over time. The protective nature of the shell serves as a perfect social gathering opportunity with integral benches encouraging the social interaction which the pavilion was designed for.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING The pavilion was modelled and analysed digitally in GSA, a finite element analysis tool to understand the flow of forces around the structure. We were able to export directly to GSA from our parametric model in rhino to get instantaneous feedback on the structural performance of the changing geometry. A core aspect of the architectural intent was to keep the structure simple and remain as honest to the primary structural material, plywood, as possible. As such, unique solutions were adopted for each connection. The design team did not limit themselves to traditional structural ideas in order to achieve the design intent. For one connection string was even adopted to keep the horizontal ribs in place.
A prime example of the structural philosophy is the rib to base connection. To achieve a robust yet fully hidden connection using the difficult material properties of plywood, the engineers designed a steel T-bracket which was slotted into recesses routed into the base and sandwiched between each half of the rib element. The bracket was fixed to the base using hidden T-nuts, traditionally used in furniture and climbing wall construction. The splices for the primary structural elements, the ribs and the central spine, were formed by staggering the two layers of 18mm thick plywood which formed the 36mm thick elements. This allowed steel plates to be fully eradicated from this critical connection.
C O L L A B O R AT I V E D E S I G N The structural and architectural design went hand in hand. The structural design team worked to define the limits of the material such as the maximum curvature of the horizontal fins and the minimum depth of the vertical ribs and the spine to inform the architectural form. Successful collaborative design was of particular importance for the design of the Social Shell as the main structural elements would also be used to create the striking architectural form.
THE FINAL DESIGN
Model making is a key part of the design process, with physical and digital created throughout to understand and develop different aspects of the design. For the Social Shell physical models used throughout the project from the early concept models created by the students through to precise scale models 3d printed and laser cut by the team in the final stages of the design development. The model making process was used to understand tolerance and flexibility requirements, inform the construction sequence and identify issues with the final drawings before fabrication. The model was also used to give volunteers a clear idea of the structure prior to construction on site.
FA B R I C AT I O N
D I G I TA L FA B R I C AT I O N A digital fabrication process was vital in optimising plywood usage. A full fabrication model was created in Rhino and the components were cut using CNC routing. The curves and unusually shaped of parts of the pavilion needed careful consideration in fabrication of the plywood components. The restraints were modelled as 3D curved volumes which required different sized slots into each arch along their length. Using Grasshopper, the size of each slot was accurately modelled with additional construction tolerance, and all elements of the 3D model were flattened onto a 2D plane, ready for material optimisation. Without this script it would not have been possible to guarantee the accurate fit of the all the elements on site. Fabrication drawings were created from this parametric model to minimise waste with components tightly nested onto plywood sheets.
CNC ROUTING The final components were cut by Quad CNC from 60 sheets of plywood, 45 were 12mm thick and 15 were 9mm thick. The result was 343 uniquely numbered plywood components which were slotted, bolted and tied together to form the pavilion.
The use of CNC routing enabled the design team to minimise construction tolerances to 1mm throughout. The team were also able to fully incorporate all recesses and holes required for connections, eliminating the need for cutting and drilling on site.
Throughout the design process the team carefully considered buildability and the construction sequence to allow the pavilion to be built quickly, safely and simply. This was especially important as the pavilion was constructed by a team of volunteers.
The structure was designed to be built as a series of approximately 1.5m high x 1.5m wide modules which slotted together with minimal mechanical fixings. These modules could all be constructed safely at ground level using only hand tools. The higher parts of the pavilion were constructed in smaller components and spliced connections were designed to minimise work carried out at height. As a result of the careful consideration of construction sequence and buildability throughout the design, the pavilion was built by a team of volunteers in only one day.
T H E D I S P L AY S
The pavilion was first displayed for six weeks in Market Square in the centre of Nottingham as part of the Nottingham Beach.
The pavilion was displayed for a second time as part of the Timber Expo at the UK Construction Week at the NEC in Birmingham. Part of the brief provided to the students was that their pavilion design should be de-mountable for display in multiple locations. This was important as one of the aims of the project was to inspire future structural engineers, architects and designers. By displaying the pavilion in multiple locations, we are able to continue the great work of this project and reach and engage with students around the Midlands.
CONSTRUCTION IN NUMBERS
7.5 ton lorry
sheets of plywood
hours to build
metres of string
900 2400 washers
metres of sanding
REFERENCES Arup https://www.arup.com/ Arup Community https://www.arup.com/our-firm/ Engagement: community-engagement Leonard Design Architects: https://leonard.design/ Scale Rule: https://scalerule.org Quad CNC: https://quadcnc.co.uk/ Mellor â€™s Group: https://mellorsgroupevents.com/ Graphic Design by https://www.instagram.com/ hollygreenillustration/