27 October 2010

Radio 4 - Spring Forwards, Fall Back

Episode image for Spring Forwards, Fall Backwards
On October 31st we'll all dutifully turn our clocks back by one hour, plunging our evenings into premature darkness. There's mounting evidence that this annual ritual has a real environmental cost. in this BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth programme, Alice Roberts takes a look at the arguments from the Greenwich Meridian to Cornwall and the Western Isles to find out who could benefit and who might suffer from a change in the way we set our clocks.

Listen to iPlayer for the whole programme.

New Instructions

We are now moving forward with the next phase of Chapel Cottage, and hope to be submitting a Building Regulations application soon. This is exciting news for us, but more importantly will be another key milestone for the client in their quest to move to a more rural location for a better quality of life and to be closer to family.

21 October 2010

Turn the Clocks Back

It is the dreaded time of year when the clocks go back, and darkness decends again. Is that feeling of waking up in the dark and coming home in the dark an essential part of winter, and the changing of the seasons? Or are the clocks changing just a depressing quirk of timekeeping that we are doomed to follow? I don't think so, which is why I have joined the 10:10 Lighter Later campaign to try and change this. They have lobbied for change and have got an Early Day Motion and a debate scheduled for the 3rd December. They are encouraging you to write to your MP to get them to support Lighter Later - they want a three-year trial in which the clocks in Great Britain shift forward by one hour throughout the year – to GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in summer. This model is also known as Single Double Summer Time (SDST).

There are lots of questions answered on their website, and some research showing that there is a carbon saving benefit too. Winners all round.

Why not do your bit.

19 October 2010

Cyclists v Red Lights - Problem Solved

At last- the solution to the most blogged and commented issue in cycling - running red lights. This guy Martin Cassini has come up with the answer and it is genius. Just get rid of the traffic lights. That's it - as simple as it sounds. His theory is that without traffic lights to tell us what to do, we humans have an uncanny ability to just get on with it - assess the situation, the movements and the priorities and it all just works. In the same way that we know we have to let everyone out of the lift before we get in, we know who has right of way, who arrived first and who should progress next at the junction. We can all remember the time there was that power failure and the traffic lights at that particularly bad junction failed at rush hour, but somehow the traffic wasn't that bad after all, and maybe it all moved just a bit more smoothly...This idea just takes that a step forward and formalises the "Filter In Turn" theory that we seem to have hardwired into our brains already.

Check out these two videos that explain it all far more eloquently...

15 October 2010

Website Update!

We have made some excellent and fabulously interesting amendments to our website, including pages about research we are carrying out in Barcelona.

Go to Estudio27.co.uk for more infomation.

11 October 2010

More From the Coal Face

Front Gable with steel and framing complete
Another update from site at Cyncoed Road. Kevin the builder has made excellent progress recently and the roof is almost fully complete - only some minor repairs and finishing work to do. The verges and window framing are in and resolve the problem of the poorly aligned steelwork very nicely. The expressed steelwork on the main gable elevation looks good, but we should have allowed it to stand proud of the blockwork so the render finished flush. This would have given a crisper result. However, the shaped and chamfered edge that Kevin has done works nicely with the more textured render visible on the original house.

10 October 2010

Urban Design for Students without a Design Background


Marga recently attended the iBEE Conference in Sheffield, and presented an interactive workshop about how to teach urban design to students without a design background.

These methods may also have wider applicability, especially with community engagement. Toby will be studying this in more detail later in the month, when he attends a course run by Community Planning (http://www.communityplanning.net/)  in London: Course Details

 Marga's paper can be viewed by following this link: iBEE Conference Workshop.

7 October 2010

Reflections on Speed and Compactness in The Era of Online Shopping

I Shop Therefore I Am by Barbara Kruger

We have uploaded the presentation that Marga gave to a conference in Barcelona last summer summarising her work with Dr Cristina Suau on shopping in the internet age and its impact on the built environment. The conference was the Arquitectonics International Review; Mind ,Land & Society 2009.

6 October 2010

WISE Building Review, Centre for Alternative Technology



We made our vertical ascent to the CAT site via the trusty water powered cable car. What an arrival experience - gently rising up through the trees from the valley below, with the views gradually opening up to reveal the mountains of Snowdonia beyond.

We were lucky enough to be with Cindy Harris of DCfW who acted as our guide, and who also designed and indeed built many of the buildings on the CAT site. A highlight was the "new" shop building, where the rammed earth walls are particularly beautiful artifacts, albeit with a practical purpose (they provide thermal mass within the highly insulated timber frame structure).

After a lovely lunch in the canteen space of the new WISE building, we were treated to a guided tour by Pat Borer, one of the architects of the new building.

It is a fantastic place, with innovation and clear dedication in the detailing, but also evident care and consideration in the handling of the massing, materials and quality of light.

The circular lecture theatre is a monumental space, suitably defined by a huge circular rammed earth structure. The mechanical devices such as the full-height sliding curved wooden screen (that slides away to reveal a stunning view) and the rotating black-out for the oculus (see video below) are playful elements that contrast nicely with the more formal architectural devices.

The Amazing Rotating Oculus from Toby Adam on Vimeo.

The building makes constant references to external space, be it the entrance square, the central courtyard, the rear walkway hard up against the quarry edge or the roof-top garden. Each has a distinct character and sense of place. For me, the central courtyard with the water gently dripping from the rainwater spouts into the ponds below was the favourite, evoking a strong sense of the former quarry that has been transformed over nearly 40 years since CAT was formed.

Among the simple pleasures such as the restrained palette of materials and attention to detail , it is the straightforward care and commitment of the architects that shines through. Especially when you get an insight into the terrible contractual issues that dogged the construction phases - not, it must be added, due to any fault or misjudgement of the procurement process on the client side.

This is an exemplar building for CAT, but also for us all. It carries its sustainable credentials lightly, without preaching or any didactic messages obscuring the obvious good design.

WISE Building - Photo Set Available

WISE Building Lower Courtyard
 I have finished uploading my photos of the WISE building visit recently, more detailed review to follow.


4 October 2010

Progess at Cyncoed Road

All rooflight cut-outs are now complete
Another quick visit to site to check on progress. The builder has really made good progress now that the weather has been a bit more stable (golf weekend excepted) and the roof carcass is now finished. All the rooflight cut-outs have been formed, and you can start to get a good idea of the space. The light will hopefully be nice, but it is difficult to imagine with all the dark surfaces and no reflectivity - you never know until the paint is on!

CAT Cable Car

CAT Cable Car from Toby Adam on Vimeo.

Just a quick video of the journey down from the mountain to the car park at CAT, on the water powered cable car. We'll add more photos and a detailed review of the WISE building soon.