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Interrobang

Architecture and Engineering T | 020 3696 1550 W | www.interrobang.london E | info@interrobang.london A | 48-50 Scrutton Street, London, EC2A 4HH Webb Yates Engineers Ltd. t/a Interrobang Reg’d in England & Wales No: 5393930 -2-


INTERROBANG We seek to make extraordinary contributions to the built environment though a genuinely transdisciplinary design process… Interrobang is a transdisciplinary architecture and engineering practice founded in 2015 within Webb Yates Engineers. Interrobang is led by Maria Smith, formerly a founding director of multi-awardwinning art and architecture practice Studio Weave, and Steve Webb and Andy Yates of Webb Yates Engineers. At Interrobang we believe that a person’s discipline defines the expertise they bring to a project, not the restrictive zone within which they can operate. Red-lined remits stifle good ideas, not only through ingrained ideas of role, but because conversations are held in parallel. Beyond multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary working is to overcome the pernicious boundaries of language and culture. Much of contemporary practice involves battling extensive, often conflicting constraints. To create meaningful intervention in our built environment

therefore requires a collaborative and, critically, adventurous attitude to problem solving. Too often architects are divested of any power to innovate in the face of impenetrable engineering imperatives, and somehow at the same time, engineers are relegated to ‘making it work’. This debilitates architects, undervalues the innovation clever engineering can bring to a project, and squanders a host of potential designs. Interrobang rejects this bunk by colluding with and engaging engineers’ visionary, divergent thinking in every project from start to finish. Currently on the drawing board is a diverse body of work including the conversion of the Grade II* listed Hoover Building into 66 new homes; a new mews house in South London; a lifting bridge over the Engine Arm of the Wolverhampton Level canal adjacent to and served by the Grade II* listed Thomas Telford Aqueduct; and in collaboration with Paris-based Marc Mimram

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Architecture et Associes, the first new river crossing to be built in Bath city centre for a century. With Studio Weave, Maria created a diverse body of work including the AR International Emerging Architecture Award-winning Lullaby Factory for Great Ormond Street Hospital; the Civic Trust Special Award-winning Longest Bench; and the RIBA South East Building of the Year 2013, the Ecology of Colour. Webb Yates Engineers was established in 2005 with the aim of creating a practice that combined bright thinking with technical rigour to realise artful and inventive structural designs.


WEBB YATES ENGINEERS Interrobang is the transdicisplinary arm of the internationally 60-strong Webb Yates Engineers. Established in 2005, Webb Yates Engineers seeks to combine imagination with technical rigour to create artful and inventive structural designs. Central to our philosophy is an enjoyment of the collaborative creative process. It is this desire for

unbounded collaboration, together with the broadranging interests of the team that has cultivated our transdisciplinary offer. Engagement with the skills and interests of a project’s client and team pushes us to innovate. Wherever possible we avoid building structural elements that provide only that purpose, preferring to incorporate

the structural performance into a cohesive design. This approach has demanded we explore the structural properties of not only steel, concrete and timber, but a wide pallet from fabrics to cast iron to cork to Lego. In particular, our ongoing collaboration with The Stonemasonry Company has led to the development of innovative techniques

that places us amongst the UK’s top stone engineering consultancies. In 2015, after ten years, we founded Interrobang with the aim of making extraordinary contributions to the built environment though a genuinely transdisciplinary design process.

Top: Fuente Del Jarro Left: Interrobang and Webb Yates Engineers Team Right: Back to Stone Age -4-


AND... Alongside the practice, the Interrobang team are involved in a wide variety of endeavours that complement and fertilise our work. Maria Smith writes a monthly column in the RIBAJ that addresses issues facing contemporary practice from the economic viability of architectural practice, to the idiosyncracies of many of our industry’s habits, to equality. She is a frequent speaker at academic and industry events and is co-curator of politics and architecture debates, Turncoats. In 2016 Maria was Creative Director of the 2016

RIBA Guerrilla Tactics Conference, Super Models, which sought to explore innovative business models for delivering architecture. Maria is a member of the RIBA National Awards Panel; a trustee of The Architecture Foundation; and a Mayor’s Design Advisor for the Mayor of London. She is also studying for an engineering degree at the Open University and plays violin in the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra. Steve Webb frequently speaks at industry events on topics ranging from stone skins to Brexit. He has published articles in journals including BD and RIBAJ and

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is technical tutor for the Architecture programme at the Royal College of Art. Andy Yates is a prolific cyclist, recently presented with the Club Peloton Award for Promoting Cycling not least for organising our own Webb Yates charity event “Bridging the Country”, where we ran, cycled and kayaked 140miles from Tower Bridge to the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Andy is now training for his third Cycle to MIPIM. Associate at Interrobang, Matthew Dalziel has led postgraduate design units at Kingston University and the innovative new

architecture school that seeks to redress the balance between academic and apprenticeship-style learning, the London School of Architecture. Matthew initially trained as a carpenter and is now embarking upon his third self-build project. The full team’s interests are too numerous to mention here but include everything from eventing to accordion playing, from brewing to boat building. A highlight of every year is the fiercly competitive Beer Festival!


SECTORS

1 / Commercial

2 / Infrastructure

3 / Community

4 / Exhibition

01 Foam Follows Function 02 Engine Arm Lifting Bridge 03 Castle Hill 04 Spacer Block Wall

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5 / Private

7 / Prototyping

6 / Retail

8 / Residential 05 Stories Mews 06 Eastcote Town Centre 07 Back to Stone Age 08 The Hoover Building

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PROJECTS

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Spacer Block Wall

This curving wall made of concrete spacer blocks celebrates the unsung heroes of concrete. It was created for ‘Concrete Inspirations’, an exhibition at Arup curated by Jennifer Greitschus and Deborah Smith with graphic design by Wolfram Wiedner Studio. The exhibition celebrates Ove Arup’s enthusiasm for a material that has captured the imagination of engineers,

architects and artists alike. In response to this subject, Interrobang created a curving exhibition wall from concrete spacer blocks. The wall organises the space, creating sinuous nooks delineating each theme within the exhibition, and provides a surface on which to mount the artworks. Normally used to support the reinforcement bars -9-

during construction, spacer blocks are concealed within the concrete. Their waisted form is designed both to support the re-bar and present a minimal impact on the finished cast. Here they are turned on their sides and mortared together to form a slender, flowing form, curved to ensure its stability. As this is an unusual application of spacer blocks, load tests were carried

out using various adhesive options before deciding upon a Hilti injectable masonry mortar. To achieve the fine little dabs required, the mortar was piped like icing onto the blocks.

Client Arup Contractor Westby Young and The Bartlett School of Architecture Photography Neil Evensen


The Hoover Building The Hoover Building is a fantastic example of art deco design in a prominent location on Western Avenue, Perivale, Ealing. The Grade II* listed building required careful and considered design in its conversion from an office to 66 residential units complementing the historic fabric and utilising

the existing structure to ensure the continued legacy of this important building. Key to converting the building to residential accommodation is adding additional levels between the existing floor slabs. In order to achieve this, the existing and proposed loads were carefully balanced with a timber framed

solution designed to shift the additional weight to locations that could support it. Various prefabricated timber trusses hidden in walls are used to either support or hang the new floors and roof, meaning that the new walls can be simply lifted in and stacked on top of each other, forming both the structure and partitions.

Client IDM Developments Contractor IDM Construction

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Working closely as a trans-disciplinary team has allowed Interrobang to achieve an efficient scheme within an existing structure far less rational than its exterior may suggest. New elements are designed to complement the original art deco fabric and provide high quality apartments suited to contemporary living.


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Forest Finns Museum This proposal is for a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the socalled Forest Finns – Finnish migrants who relocated to Sweden and Norway during the late 16th and early-tomid-17th centuries. The Forest Finns migrated to Norway and were involved in the traditional ‘slashand-burn’ technique of agriculture where forest was quickly transformed into fertile growing land. Today most Forest Finns have been assimilated into Norwegian culture with the last Finnish speakers passing away in the late 1960s. The museum is conceived as a large smoke house arranged around three

landscapes. Logs are made from glulam beams, notched and stacked to form a structural exterior wall. A limit on the maximum length of beam requires a notched corner every 14 metres or less. This simple tectonic principal creates a gentle stepping and articulation of the notched beams on the exterior that follows the arrangement of spaces within. At the centre of the building are two stone rooms each facing onto an internal courtyard. These stone rooms are the "smoke rooms" that provide radiant heat to the surrounding rooms. In place of fire, heat comes from ground

source heat exchange which is distributed around the building in warm water pipes. These two stone "smoke rooms" are the cultural heart of the building providing space for the Auditorium and Library. The building is arranged around a journey through the three landscapes of slash and burn farming. The first "smoke room" (the auditorium) as well as the reception and administration wing are formed around the landscape of the untouched Nordic forest; as it would have been found by the forest Finns as they moved into new territories. The second "smoke room" (the library) and the exhibition

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rooms are clustered around a courtyard of black earth and rock. This courtyard represents the burnt landscape as well as the charcoal industry that would later put an end to their livelihood. These two internal courtyards are clad on all four sides by mirrored glass creating the impression of an infinite landscape. The final landscape is set within the last room of the permanent exhibition and looks outward to present day Norway across a cultivated clearing of seeded grasses. These grasses are the first stage of life after the burning and represent the cultivated landscape of the Finnskogg farmstead.


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The Yarden Houses The Yarden Houses are a high density infill project converting the rear extension of an 1850’s Victorian house and its end of terrace yarden into two small houses. For the Victorian conversion we have purged the building of many layers of poor quality modern materials and returned to the old school recipe of breathable walls and radiant heat. Lime plaster and sheep’s wool insulation absorb moisture and filter the air while a new heated slab and wood stove push the ever encroaching damp back out to whence it came. The interior rejects the market

lead wisdom of the more bedrooms the better and remains mostly open plan. While the converted house is a miniature version of its larger Victorian neighbours, the new house becomes an exaggerated caricature of the bay window. The trapezoidal ground floor plan is sandwiched between a full basement with sunken terrace and a small first floor living room with writing loft to form a 3 and a half storey 60 sqm tower house. The two can work together as a double house around a common courtyard or as two separate dwellings.

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Fellows Court

Fellows Court is the refurbishment of a 1960s maisonette in Hoxton, East London. The spaces were rearranged to create a large kitchen-dining-living space downstairs, and bedroom, utility-bathroom and study upstairs. Spruce plywood

joinery with extruded aluminium handles square the spaces while creating generous storage. The refurbishment colourfully enjoys the building’s 1960s heritage with turquoise and tangerine - 17 -

doors and soft peach walls and ceilings. Green and blue grout pick out the shades of recycled glass in the GlassEco worktops – busy like Formica. Woodwork is painted the glossy green of swiss cheese and rubber plants.

A Veissmann combi-boiler, Omnie underfloor heating and Tado’s geolocation heating control ensures energy use is minimised.Vertical white blinds, that wouldn’t look amiss in a mid-century office, mitigate low light in this eastwest facing property.


Back to the Stone Age As part of the V&A’s Engineering Season Friday Late, Interrobang collaborated with The Stonemasonry Company to prototype a torsional stone floor slab. By supporting the array of stone slabs along their four sides and holding them down at the four corners, the floor structure is extremely thin. As was demonstrated by the live build at the museum, the construction methodology is fast, clean, requires no formwork, and can be built up from handleable elements. Unlike vaulted stone structures that work by ensuring the stone is working only in compression, or posttensioned stone that utilises steel tendons to work in tension in concert with stone in compression, the stone tile floor is both perfectly level and includes no steel reinforcement. This is achieved by clipping very

thin stone tiles together at their corners and holding the structure along all four sides, here allowing 3m to be spanned with just 40mm depth, less than half the thickness that would be required by a reinforced concrete slab doing the same job. Compared with reinforced concrete, the stone tile floor is less than half the embodied energy and less than a quarter of the embodied carbon. Looking forward, as environmental concerns increase and energy prices rise, stone will become a more viable competitor to concrete. More rigorous testing of stone will therefore become more widespread. Timber is currently graded to ascertain the properties of a specific piece of timber. While it is possible to do this with stone (via load testing or x-ray etc) it is not commonly done. This means that we’re not asking stone

to work as hard as it can and so over-structuring and wasting material. There’s enormous potential to bring technology to bear to industrialise local stone extraction. As a natural material, the properties of an individual piece of stone vary, and this variability manifests as excessive safety factors. By better automating the way stone is extracted, cut, and graded, we will be able to use it more efficiently and much more broadly. The goal is that in the future, steel and concrete are much less dominant in the construction industry. If stone can step up to become a much more viable alternative, we can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of construction: back to the stone age for a low carbon future!

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Client V&A Contractor The Stonemasonry Company Photography Jim Stephenson - 19 -


The Railway Building As part of a larger masterplan, this mixed-use leisure building sits on an island site, sandwiched between a railway track and the residential development that it services. The railway track itself provided inspiration for the material palette of cast iron and stone, two materials which offer a climatically superior alternatives to steel and concrete. The proposal has a communal central entrance to a single internal core

comprising a long staircase and optimised services to keep its width to a minimum on this narrow footprint. Each level has an open floor plan to accommodate flexible layouts for different tenants. In order to maintain a two metre clear zone between the building and the railway, a cleaning gantry was designed into the facade on the railway side. The form of the building follows the typology of the neighbouring residential buildings with light ground

floors and heavier upper floors. This is achieved through stone beams and columns at upper levels that bear onto stone and cast iron fink trusses, transferring the load of the building onto slender cast iron columns at ground level. Cast iron connectors that join the stone beams and columns double up as supports to allow the stone members to cantilever vertically and maintain a two metre clear zone during the construction of this load-bearing facade.

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Glass Cave This pavilion was designed for an exhibition space, to provide visitors with a quiet, dark and still enclosure. FoamGlas is a load-bearing insulation material made from cellular recycled glass, and is utilised in this design for its acoustic, structural and aesthetic qualities. 100mm of FoamGlas provides 28dB acoustic reduction; it has high compressive strength, and the enclosed air pockets in its cellular glass structure make it dark in colour.

The pavilion is a stacked structure, with piles of FoamGlas to ballast the cantilevers that form the roof. These stacked blocks create an articulated surface, which together with the darkness of the material provide a mysterious volume that draws visitors in. The interior is quiet and cavernous, offering a confined space for sound and light installations.

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Suspension of Disbelief The Maypole is a structure designed to sit outside St Mary le Strand at the Aldwych which was shortlisted for The London Festival of Architecture’s ‘Modern Maypole’ competition. The design uses widely available materials in standard sizes: Oak glulam, fibreglass poles, stainless steel. The tall structure is stabilised by pieces of precast concrete that sit on top of its steel base with no foundations below ground. It is designed to be robust, straightforward to fabricate and completely demountable, allowing it to be stored or re-erected elsewhere in the future.

Sixteen different colours of fibreglass rod are interwoven to form the mesh at the centre of the Maypole. Each colour represents a type of organisation which inhabits the Northbank area and contributes to its unique makeup: Arts Institutions, Cafes, Embassies, Hotels and Theatres amongst many others. The coloured rods are reminiscent of traditional Maypole ribbons however they form a lightweight compression net supporting a floating pole above.

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Stories Mews

This new 3 bedroom house, replaces a dilapidated coach house on Stories Mews. As an infill development in the Camberwell conservation area, the site presented two significant challenges; The mews faรงade, which needed to make a positive

contribution to an historic mews vernacular while resisting the temptations of pastiche, and a configuration of the plan, that would allow for both sunlight and privacy within the heavily overlooked garden landscape of Camberwell grove.

For the faรงade we looked to historic examples of timber framed English architecture and particularly to towns like Lewes in East Sussex where a fashion for brickwork drove a local builder to invent the mathematical tile; a clay tile nailed and lapped - 24 -

like a plain tile but faced to form a brick bond. These ingenious little tiles are now only made for restoration but have great potential as a lightweight mechanically fixed alternative to the wet and heavy reality of modern brick construction.


To meet the challenges of overlooking we took the classic half width rear extension and rotated it at 20 degrees to form two private triangular courtyards. These outdoor rooms allow for large glass openings to run along the long elevations of the plan providing cross ventilation and light throughout the day. The larger courtyard faces due south and looks obliquely across the tree tops of neighbouring gardens. The smaller courtyard captures afternoon sun and provides light and air into the bathroom, kitchen and ground floor bedroom. The timber structure is exposed on the interior to allow the rhythm and grain of studs and joists to express the different territories of the plan. Joists are sized and spaced according to their specific span to achieve a uniform deflection across the first floor deck.

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Tensegritree This proposal is a tensegrity Christmas tree based on the structural principle of using isolated compression members (in this case bamboo) which float within a net of continuous tension cables. The staggered compression ‘branches’ can be repainted, coated or replaced. The areas of the structure where compression and tension members meet create nodes offering locations for baubles or light fixtures. The tree can be easily dismantled and takes up little storage room between seasons

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Berkhamsted Orangery The Berkhamsted Orangery is a small structure that will be erected at the bottom of our clients garden within permitted development rights. Equilateral triangles make up the irregular hexagon facade which is then extruded. The resultant form is wider at the waist, optimising the internal space while minimising the footprint. The structure is clad in timber shingles to the neighbours side, and stained glass shingles on the garden side allowing coloured light to flood the interior and providing views onto the main house. The triangular structure offers spaces for external log storage while creating a deep threshold at the entrance.

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Hyperbolic Conoid Bridge

The Hyperbolic Conoid Bridge is a corten steel truss whose form is defined by a series of geometric transformations. A hyperbolic conoid is generated by extruding, twisting, mirroring, offsetting and tipping a

circular array of straight lines. This creates a doubly curved surface but from a series of straight lines all identical in length making this complex form much simpler to fabricate.

us to change the variables and achieve a geometry that is structurally efficient, mathematically satisfying, and buildable.

The form was generated in Grasshopper to allow - 28 -


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Engine Arm Lifting Bridge As part of a wider development of the Smethwick Rolfe Street area, we have designed a lifting bridge over a canal that provides a pedestrian and cycle route between two development areas while allowing boaters to continue to navigate the waterways. The Engine Arm is a feeder canal that crosses the Birmingham New Mainline canal via the Grade II* listed Thomas Telford Aqueduct. It is home to a number of boaters with residential moorings. The design of the lifting bridge therefore needed to respond to a raft of complex constraints including the setting

of the listed aqueduct, ease of use for boaters, safety of pedestrians and cyclists, longevity of a moving structure, and the robustness required to withstand both accidental impact as could be caused by a narrowboat striking the structure, and vandalism. The key challenge to overcome was to create a structure light enough to lift easily but robust enough to withstand potential impact from a narrowboat. This is achieved by creating a structure that decelerates a boat over a distance of approximately 600mm. This therefore requires that the design accommodates a substantial deflection.

This is achieved with two outriggers that can slip laterally in case of impact. The force of the impact is absorbed by a tuned flexible truss running centrally along the underside of the deck. This solution allows for a very light structure that can be lifted with two hydraulic pistons. The intention is for the bridge to be locked in the open position overnight. It is therefore designed to contribute to the urban fabric as much as a local landmark as a bridge.

Client Complex Development Projects - 30 -


House of Mastication The House of Mastication is a dining pavilion for a design festival at Somerset House. The proposal is a response to the epitome of civilisation that is dining, the establishment and evolution of civil structures that characterise Somerset House’s history, and the building’s connection to civil engineering. Eating together is a triumph of humanity: at once social and sensual, at once cultural and visceral. Like other base pleasures, eating might have been considered too animal to enjoy in polite company, but instead it is deemed

decorous. The mouth is the simultaneous vessel for both civil conversation and communal mastication. The House of Mastication encloses a space 50m long, 7m wide and 10m tall. Made from abattoir curtains tensioned across engineered timber arches, the pavilion pinches shut at each end and yawns open at its centre. Timber arches are fixed into a weighted spreader beam to avoid foundations. The structure is prefabricated and pivoted into place on site with temporary tensioning cables. The timbers fan out in an exponential,

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balanced sequence, with the increasing self-weight of the system inducing tension in the exterior curtain and thus removing the need for longitudinal, secondary members. This fanning also creates a perspective distortion reminiscent of the interior of a human mouth. The House of Mastication was proposed for a design festival at Somerset House, a place with a long provenance of the establishment and evolution of civil structures.


TEAM’S EXPERIENCE

1 / Arts

3 / Institution

2 / Commercial

4 / Education

01 Paleys upon Pilers, Maria Smith at Studio Weave 02 Niko R&D, Maria Smith at Studio Weave with Webb Yates Engineers 03 London Library, Matthew Dalziel at Haworth Tompkins 04 Ecology of Colour, Maria Smith at Studio Weave

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5 / Residential

6 / Sports

7 / Elderly Care

05 Brent Cross Housing, Matthew Dalziel at Haworth Tompkins 06 Brent Cross Sports Pavilion, Matthew Dalziel at Haworth Tompkins 07 Grenadier House, Sam Turner at Mae

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Foam Follows Function

Our Shoreditch office is fitted out with a series of freestanding spruce plywood furniture elements that define all the nooks and crannies we need to survive. Because we wanted to be sure to be cosy in our new space we painted each

area a different colour of insulation. The reception, IT room and meeting room are Kooltherm Pink. Great U-value. The kitchen area is Oasis florist’s foam green to act as a good substrate for delicious meals. The central meeting space, a kind of

transdisciplinary pressure cooker, is sandwiched between our PIR yellow printer bar and Styrofoam blue bookshelf.

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