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Work Sample

Inhabiting Space:

temporality to permanence

Thomas Ferm_2012


Seated in History: Chair Museum

1 - 11

Blurring Boundaries: Dance Centre

On Weathering: Fishermens Dwellings


First Year Studies: Bicycle enthusiast’s house & Renga Platform




Preface Tweeddale court is situated on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, once a part of the Old Town, of which parts of the city walls remain. One such wall dominates the site where we were to design a chair museum, surrounded on three sides by 4 storey tenaments, creating a real sense of verticality. I chose to ‘seat’ my design into the wall by ‘inhabiting’ it, cutting notches into the upper parts of the wall to house chairs on display. The gallery structure itself occupies both sides of the wall, snaking between and around, taking advantage of reductions in verticality by extruding away from the wall. Thus the wall is very much made an exhibit as much as the historic chairs on show.


Seat: responding to the body

Chair design: We were tasked with coming up with a design for a chair that could be placed in our finalised museum scheme. The photographs here illustrate the ideas chosen for my seat concept. The body exerts pressure upon a surface on which it leans and so the linear elements of the chair become more dense where this would be the case, fading away where support is not as important. The outcome was a chair that not only looked interesting during the day, but also casts an impressive silhouette at night (as seen on the previous page.)

During construction: riveting elements to the frame

Placement responds to required support of the body Chair on exhibition 2

Chair in use, supporting the body

Striking silhouette cast by the seat


Conceptual Design: inhabiting the wall





1. Verticality analysis 2. Initial concept sketch 3. ‘Inhabiting the wall’ 4. Volumetric concept

Material study: After taking the decision to inhabit the historic wall on the site, I chose to try and ‘create’ the materiality that would be present by chisseling a notch out of a sandstone block. 4





5. Interesting lighting 6. Chiseling the stone 7. Niche in the sandstone 8. Emphasising texture

As you can see once light is applied to the surfaces, a striking visual scene is created, which would be ideal for the display of chairs. Thus slits in the ceiling around the perimeter of these niches in the wall allow light to flood the recesses, highlighting the materiality of the wall in addition to the chairs themselves. 5

Illustration: design drawings

Ground floor plan 6

First floor plan

Roof plan showing skylights

1- Mesh outer cover to the facade conceals ribbon window behind whilst giving a solid appearance. 2- 40cm tall ribbon window at seat height allows filtered light into the gallery. 3- Steel clad frame provides bulk to the structure, blocking the majority of light from the outside.

Facade detail

Exploded axonometric


Illustration: design drawings

West elevation

South elevation

Visualisations: realising the design


1. Pencil illustration of internal volume, showing niches illuminated by slits in the ceiling 2. Internal volume with chairs situated in recesses created within the historic wall

2. 10


Blurring Boundaries: Dance Centre

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester provided a perfect opportunity for the design of a community dance centre thanks to it being dubbed a ‘24 hour park for a 24 hour city.’ My design plays on the idea of ‘blurring boundaries,’ altering the spatial perception of the volumes inside. Translucent glass enclosed the dance spaces which are dispersed across three different levels, giving an interesting characteristic to the spaces under the grand glass canopy. This canopy features differing transparencies to either mask or reveal the volumes within. The silhouettes of the dancers cast upon the translucent walls give a dynamic feel to the dance centre, which at night is illuminated, creating an architecture that encourages engagement and intrigue.


Conceptual volumetric model


Design: Massing, scale and orientation Land is very valuable in any city, and Manchester is no exception. Therefore I created a model of the site and surrounding area in order to understand what relationship a building on the gardens would establish with its neighbours. I chose to make maquettes as a way of exploring core concepts quickly and efficiently as seen in the images at the bottom of the page.

1:1000 wooden site model

Maquettes investigate siting strategy 14

View from Market Street

View from Piccadilly

Understanding site shadowing


Studios: Primary-150m2 Secondary- 100m2

Informal performance area- 100m2

Changing rooms 50m2

Reception/ storage area- 75m2

Cafe- 50m2

After the initial concept of raising the dance centre off the ground, I carried out a volumetric arrangement analysis using wooden blocks of different volumes and dimensions. This allowed an understanding of impact upon neighbouring buildings, in addition to the creation of views to and from the centre itself. 15

Illustration: design drawings

Ground Floor plan

First Floor plan

The footprint of the building is given back to the city, creating a retail opportunity, whilst featuring a choice of circulation methods. The ramp provides a gradual journey from the city to the dance centre, whilst the lift not only provides disabled access, but an immediate connection to the studios above.

Raised from the city, the changing rooms and secondary studio have a sense of detachment and privacy from the adjacent buildings. Sprung floors throughout offer numerous spaces for dancers to warm up before they begin to create a sense of spatial continuity.


Second Floor plan

The informal performance area to the right of the plan is open to the environment under the glass canopy. The journey to the top of the dance centre culminates with the vast primary studio, with a height of 8m. Storage for equipment is provided behind the mirrored walls of the studios. Exploded axonometric


Design: drawings and exploration


Section looking North

Conceptual model during the day, without lighting.

Early evening, the volumes of the dance centre are accentuated by internal lighting.

Nighttime brings with it darkness, nevertheless it is when the dance centre is brought to life.

Exploration looking at the masking properties of different facade transparency combinations.

Internal volumes are revealed when they come in close proximity to the glass canopy.

Final design creates an interesting effect, masking in places, revealing in others.

Conceptual investigations


Lighting analysis:

Architecture for a ‘24hr park’

Daytime - volumes are masked by the facade’s varying opacity


Afternoon - with the volumes lit, more of the interior is revealed as silhouettes to the exterior

Early evening - Internal volumes even more evident, beginning to illuminate surroundings

Evening - In full darkness the centre acts as a lantern illuminating its surroundings, drawing people’s attention


Visualisations: realising the design






6. 22

1. Initial conceptual sketch 2. Internal atrium space 3. Transitional ramped entrance 4. Primary studio internal space 5. Dance centre internal volumes 6. Informal performance area

Final Visualisation- 24hr park for a 24hr city


On Weathering: Fishermens Dwellings

My visit to the Isle of Kerrera gave me an understanding of the power of nature in effect there. Crashing waves and constant rain was replaced by sunny skies and still waters which made this site an amazing place to be. My design for the dwellings of a sustainable fishing community took this into account, and attempted to become a part of the site. Recessed into the landscape (taking advantage of thermal mass) with a projecting, sloping wall, the dwellings put their muscular shoulders to the wind to create a sense of protecton in such a harsh landscape. A thick stone wall retains the earth, whilst ‘wrapping’ the interior timber ‘registrar’ wall which brings warmth to the design. 24

Masterplanning: This stage involved the creation of maquettes to explore different arrangements of the programme on site within a wider radial style site strategy.

Final arrangement of programme within the masterplan


Illustration: design drawings

Weathering Study I created this model to illustrate the concept of weathering which would affect the dwellings. The permeable limestone walls enable slow erosion of the pristine buillding form over time, allowing the building to weather into the site. “The breakdown or breakup of materials as a result of weathering might be called ‘functional deterioration.’


Material weathering study

Initial material swatch board partially submerged in saltwater

After two weeks of exposure, a changing aesthetic began to emerge

I felt that experimentation to explore how materials can change over time in terms of colour and texture, in addition to form, would create for an interesting concept within the house designs. From metals (left) to timber, concrete, slate and limestone (right), the swatchboard covers a variety of different materials, and these results were implemented in the final design. Exploded axonometrics illustrating internal arrangement


Illustration: design drawings


Ground Floor plan

First Floor plan


Illustration: design drawings


Roof plan

Long section: link from dwellings to the control office


Modelling: realising materiality





1. Fishing community relations 32

2. Explodable dwelling model

3. Inhabiting the landscape

4. Internal dwelling arrangement

Picture window frames scenery beyond

Seating created within the wall’s depth

The images on page 26 show the concept of a house which can weather into the site, evolving from a pristine geometric form into a rounded form patinated by the prevailing weather conditions. The visualisation to the bottom right of this page shows the seasonal replacement of the timber panelling on the ‘registrar’ wall during the winter. This wall weathers from an orange- red to a greyer hue. The offset volumes in each of the houses address different parts of the site depending upon the inhabitant, for example the captain’s house addresses the control centre as it is vital to the operation of fishing.

Seasonal regeneration: timber cladding

Model illustrating copper rain collection roofs


First year studies: Bicycle Enthusiast’s house

Situated on Granny’s Green, Edinburgh, the site for a bicycle enthusiast’s house featured stunning views up to the castle above perched upon volcanic rock. Thus I felt the design should be heavily influenced by the views available on its doorstep. As the axonometric on the right page illustrates, the house exists on several levels due to the existing topography. This allows a natural separation of public, private and commercial spaces, all of which feature views up to the castle. 34

Sight lines to the castle above dictate the butterfly roof forms

Axonometric room use diagram

Section looking to the north

The visualisation to the bottom right of the page shows the views realised from the ground floor looking up the master staircase which gives access to an external patio area. The butterfly roofs are perched upon glazed sections to the north and the south. This allows views to the castle, whilst benefitting from direct solar gain from the south. The commericial space ties in with the rest of the dwelling design, whilst maintaining an element of privacy from both the street and the public staircase to the east.

Views to the castle from staircase 35

First year studies: Renga Platform

This project involved the design of a conceptual intervention to create ground, wall, frame and a canopy. This was then synthesised into a design for a platform upon which one could read a form of Japanaese poetry or renga. The design above shows how with the manipulation of the ground plane in combination with a series of wall and canopy elements, can allow either a peaceful solitary environment, or an opportunity for group readings. (As seen in the images to the right of the page) 36

Sketched sectional perspective

Submerged room visualisation

Drawing inspiration from the landscape architect Charles Jencks, my design for a renga installation within the gardens of Dean Gallery involved landscape manipulation in order to create spaces ‘within’ the ground as well as on it. Interior spaces feature slits in the perimeter of the ceiling, allowing light to illuminate the artwork hung on the walls, with a contemplation room taking design cues from John Turell’s deer shelter.

Exhibition space with seating 37


Thomas Ferm 7 Ellendale Grange, Worsley, Manchester, M28 7UX Tel (H): 0161 799 3071 Tel (M): 07772 100 556

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