265cos_TOOL OF THE MONTH: FREUND MASTERCUT SLATE CUTTER

Who would have thought cutting slate could be so easy? I start to think a whole generation of architecture students at NCKU Taiwan making slate models. Marvin will make a slate model of our Costa St project, by way of example. 

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Tramezzino: a triangulated sandwich panel?

The tramezzino is a: triangular Italian sandwich with the crusts removed and are popular and inexpensive. The origin of the tramezzino can be found in (Caffè Mulassano) in Turin where I worked for Andrea Bruno Architetto and where I also met both la Juve and Lingotto.  The tramezzino I understand to be a halfway, between breakfast and lunch but also between the triangle and the regular polygon. I like triangles. It reminds me of Polynesia as triangulation in navigation gives 3-point geo-spatial fixity. What happens if we triangulate the fibre cement sheet cladding on our proposal by cutting along the diagonals?

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265cos_WHAT’S THE SECRET ABOUT SECRET FIXINGS?

“Look mum, no hands!” Secret fixing is the architectural equivalent of riding your bike with no hands. That’s really not so difficult when actually “Look mum, doing a wheelie” is far more daring. Your hands are on the bike but the bike is being propelled at a balanced crazy angle. Even better is a rodeo-like one-handed wheelie. Trying to implement difficult architectural geometries made me question whether it is then necessary to complicate matters with the economic overlay of secret fixing which often requires curtain walling ‘cassette cladding’ diseconomies to create material strength through extruded depth. One could secret fix though through bonding: a triumph of the chemical over the mechanical. Or is it? How do the insurers / warrantors assess the fixation risk? Mechanical could puncture a waterproofing membrane for example. SuperGlue was promoted when I grew up as ‘one drop holds a tonne’ but these were laboratory conditions promoting tensile not shear strength. And who says the contractor applies the correct amount when cost cutting quantities increases profit? The name’s Bonded, James Bonded? Doubtful when he still uses a mechanically propelled weapon. So let’s keep it simple: a mechanical face-fixed stainless steel screw is relatively low-tech ‘8-bit solution’ for an easy fix without the need for an ‘Approved Installer’> given the affordability crisis affecting house building in London I am convinced this is the way forward.    

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265cos_CLADDING RUSHES

As much as brick corbelling is of innovative interest and fits the brick context, brick doesn’t stack up. In terms of weight, 22,000 bricks @ 2.4 kg per brick means the cladding would weigh 50 tonne and increase pile loads even before we cladding one considers Ancon bracket shelving @ 6kg/m). A lighter cladding system would reduce pile loads from say 10kN/m to, for example slate, to 2kN/m. In terms of time, assume 500/day given a good brick layer corbelling = 44 days * 1.5 risk = 66 days but let’s say 2 months… plausible if the programme was split into parallel interior and exterior works). So what are the cladding alternatives? Cor-Ten? Good fit in terms of contextual robustness but proprietary Cor-Ten systems at first glance could be Kingspan’s curtain walling. Not cheap at £100/sqm supply doubling to £200/sqm installed = £70k. Also the Kingspan system is a say 1.5mm thick biscuit tin fitted as a ‘cassette’ on a curtain walling system. Many of such systems look like commercial warehouse façades. Ask Kingspan if there CNC system allows for large 2m high panels say supported internally by a timber cross member to avoid the biscuit tin from denting. Plywood? Our House on Motiti (in New Zealand) was made in 1996 utilising 12mm thk rough faced WBP type ply. How does it look 20y later? Will ask the client who still lives there today… Visual degradation, say due to surface discolouration as evident in Lynch Architect’s Greenwood Road house, could be attended to by staining so how did Motiti perform in terms of water tightness? And how could it inform self-building in London? I see the House K – Tham & Videgård Arkitekter also used plywood so it seems it could work in a European environment. I believe the Dubbel Huis by MVRDV was also plywood clad as was David Adjaye’s Electra House. So using the filmic equivalent of a ‘rush’ deploying blending raw fast techniques, in this case Tham & Videgård, our project in Peckham might, fenestration not pertaining, might look like:

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WHAT_if: The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018 had partnered NZ.

Writing about loss. The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018 is writing about a lost architectural job. A project not won. Like being shortlisted for the NZ Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2016. So like any’ good’ loser we wait and see our victor achieves. It’s The Game of Architecture. We pitched Brexit; the winner pitched Brexit. So we had the guessed rightly that Brexit – Britain leaving Europe – was the only theme in town for The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. We suggested a game of doors, the winner went island. Hmm, I am an islander, I come from Motiti Island with a population of 22. ‘Islands’ are a pretty seductive theme – see the RA Oceania exhibition in 2018 – so did I miss a trick? So I saw the some press images of the Venice Biennale 2018 (a zoo I had thought when I last visited in 2016) and naturally looked out for Britains’ entry. Or rather exit. Yes it was void: the pavilion had nothing in it. A luxury I thought. When I saw the roof, it made re-question the luxury of architecture. Britain is supposedly a rich nation…yet the roof treatment of the British Pavilion 2018 could have matched its ideological ambitions by being more physically ambitious. Not just another sun deck but say a proper pool – the one that Australia dreamed about in 2016 but paid for and delivered by NZ in 2018. In return NZ could exhibit downstairs, in 2018? After all, the last time NZ exhibited at the Biennale di Venezia it cost the NZ tax payer $NZ3m or £1.5M. Britain would have accepted say £500K or Biennale rental to help raise their rooftop ambitions beyond tartan ply deck into pooling the crowds… WHAT_architecture thus drank the sour grape Veneto and dreamt of another, more enhanced British pavilion/ whereby the mother country partnered one its colonies to deliver a better project.

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000off_KEBABED! I USE TO SIT UNDER THAT COLUMN!

Old Street Roundabout in 2008 and 10 years later.

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THE DRAPING OF ARCHITECTURE: ITS CURTAINS FOR ENGLISH FOOTBALL AGAIN.

It’s World Cup time again. In England this means a lot of buildings draped with the St George flag. Football here is bigger than God. According to a 2016 YouGov poll, England is supposedly a Christian country yet only 23% of the total population say they subscribe in a faith. Football is the religion which both unites, under the flag, and unties, see club vs country, the nation. This is fan flare as flag. Walking through the streets of East London in a World Cup summer means you will see more flags draping from buildings than say at Christmas time, Santa’s reindeers twinkling homes. Selling a dream? Welcome to the flagged world of fantasy football. Every flag unites and unties. he St George’s flag divides. As a red cross it could seen as a symbol of safety… TBC Bunting: This house in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, has flags attached to the garage and window. Visitors will also be greeted by a cross draped over the front doorComing together: Residents of an estate in an area known as The Blue in Bermondsey, south-east London, have turned it red and white after smothering the outside of their homes in St George's flags In a bizarre twist of fate, only Inter Milan have ever word the St George flag as shirt… TBC

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284abh_UP HIGH DOLL’S HOUSE

“UP HIGH DOLL’S HOUSE” Up High Doll’s House plays with the architecture of the Doll’s House as a means to greater functionality. Doll’s houses were originally luxury hand made items for wealthy adults to demonstrate their fine taste. In many ways, domestic architecture also operates as a luxury device, that is, as a demonstration of status, wealth and societal position. Here at WHAT_architecture we have observed, for example, that the more expensive the kitchen, the less likely the owner cooks. Up High Doll’s House is a full-scale toy. Located at the top of a four-storey terrace house, this project installs a house within a room within a house. Up High Doll’s House is a smaller part of a bigger single-family residence in London Fields. The project’s lofty ambitions exceed its modest budget. Up High Doll’s House questions your age. As a reimagined Doll’s House, it is not only for a child to grow up in but also for a Grown Up to be, well, child-like. A spatially compact, functional house that demands playful engagement and entertainment. The Dolls’ House is also a symbol of gender politics. The Museum of Childhood recognises this by writing that “in the past the (Doll’s) Houses where also used as a visual aid to teach girls how to run a household”. Up High Doll’s House provides an ‘up high’ retreat for the client’s teenage daughter. An autonomous room of her own where she can entertain friends yet still remain under the watchful eye of her slightly nervous father. Her space is under his roof. The project seeks to give the daughter a playful space in which togrow and develop her independence. So we asked: what if her bedroom could be transformed into a self-contained flat? She could then enact being the grown up, cook for her friends, have them stay over, have make-up and henna parties and even her own Netflix home cinema … A 20sqm bedroom configured as a duplex penthouse flat. Accepting the façade is the plane of expression; architectural representation has traditionally privileged the Elevation over the Section. Up High Doll’s House celebrates the architectural section by eliminating any need for the elevation or indeed doors: what you see is what you get! Up High Doll’s House represents a new spatial typology. As in the film Being John Malkovich, which features the absurdity of a half floor (the 71/2 floor lies between levels 7 and 8), the proposal toys with what is considered to be acceptable headroom. With compressed floor to ceiling heights, the conventions of 2m headroom is eschewed in favour of say crawling into bed. © WHAT_architecture 2017. 

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515a_Royal Academy of Arts Courtyard as an Oceania Marae

WHAT_architecture speculates as to the Courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts being temporarily reconfigured as a ‘Oceania Marae’: in London, this September 2018. A Marae (Māori), or Mala’e (Tongan) is a sacred social space framed by carved buildings. The Courtyard at the RAA / Burlington House could be a wonderful entry into Britain’s first art review of Oceania: #RAOceaniaMarae

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240val_NEW VALLANCE

New Vallance is a project partnership with Vallance Community Sports Association (VSCA). This project demonstrates Football as Architecture: more than a game. More than a club, it provides for a small East London community that embraces football as an impetus to transformation. ‘Premiership cities’ like London can learn from apparently ‘lower league cities’ like Bangkok: AP Thailand and CJ Worx worked wonders by creating space. As Pirlo would do.  

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