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.    

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:

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. 

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.  

283off_ GDP v GDPR

An unconfigured thought. Today I got a personalised letter from Google. I looked to see where it was sent from. Junk mail as posted spam? Since Google is owned by Alphabet, the world’s 29th biggest company (Fortune5oo 2016), I anticipated a foreign post mark. Google knows enough about me to personalise the approach: global behemoth writes to me: stormy ego whilst I am sitting in a shipping container. I took the office dog, Chiba, for a walk to reflect… GDPR in E2 9EZ.

072hin_Innovative Heritage: Hinemihi is Britain being Great in its partnership with NZ

252car_Furniture as Architecture

289acc_HOW THE 36TH AMERICA’S CUP SHOULD BE STAGED IN AUCKLAND!? THE ACC36 PLATFORM

The America’s Cup is the pre-eminent international spectacle of boatmanship, so why should the attendant architecture remain landlocked and ground-based? Urban regeneration doesn’t happ en through a pair of binoculars. OO. Embracing the same desire for radical innovation as that evident in the Emirates Team NZ boat, our stage for watching sailing refreshes nautical spectatorship. This is the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron leading the development of naval architecture. By re-cycling an offshore platform, NZ once again demonstrates global innovation through a sustainable yet memorable ‘grandstand-on-the sea’ experience! Fuller ferries dock onto Pirelli pontoons, leading you to glazed elevators that rise up through hotel panoramas, liquid bars, kiwi seafood eateries, and, of course, a helipad for those that come in ‘heels’. The location of the #ACC36 Platform is floated. Anchor nearer the Rangitoto or closer to the City of Sails? Either way we can triangulate the televised backdrop. Gin palaces frame the course. NZ, oil well and truly, on the world map. After ACC is Auckland City Council in the American Cup Class. 

284abh_EUREKA MOMENTS IN DESIGN

Eureka! The moment in a creative process when you realise your onto something good (but also recognise the epiphany is attendant with may problems)… and realise you need to get the idea down. Speed of design thought is best done with a sketch but sometimes lines are just not enough. The 8 bit weak render allows one to forego resolution for conceptualisation. In architecture, unlike say mathematics, there is no absolute answer. Sqm x £ = 🙂 But the conditions remain: geographic, physical, social, economic, environmental, aesthetic. If an architectural project could be so exquisitely defined as a polynomial defining these indeterminates, who knows what the implcations could be for living? 170622_design review 18Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 22.42.05Roof CottageFloating Furniture

265cos_FAKE NEWS: PLANNERS NO LONGER GIVEN THE SLIP.

Fake News is not only about the click bait of deliberate misinformation. Fake News, in Architecture, can be truthful News about Fake Things. The RIBA’s Code of Professional Conduct first principle relates to Integrity: Members shall act with honesty and integrity at all times. This professional requirement for honesty has transformed into a desire for material expression also not to tell porkies. The truth to materials is a tenet of modern architecture and holds that any material should be used where it is most appropriate and its nature should not be hidden. With this in mind the ‘brick slip’ is a fake brick upheld by manufacturers and, therefore increasingly, architects as it gives the material illusion of brick but not the ‘hassle’ of weight or need for detailing knowledge. This has lead to modern brick wallpaper facades, the currency of contemporary London housing. Planners, after all, loved brick. Easy on the eye, brick offers a non-confrontational public consultation. If correctly chosen and detailed, brick degrades arguably better than other other material. The brick slip is, as leading brick manufacturer Vandersanden declare, fake: the Fake News here is that its use is no longer giving the planners the slip but is being increasingly written out of planning consents. Brick Slips2 ACE-Hotel-Londonpba_website_project_colville_banner2_20165397007134117_03cBrick SlipsFake-Club