San Jerome in my Diploma Work

by Mario Soustiel

San Jerome has been an instrumental element in my Diploma and it has informed my work during the my 5th year and influenced the synthesis of my 6th year thesis project.

From the perspective analysis of an art critic you would expect the following:

“The scene is devised such that the light rays coincide with the perspective axes, centering on the saints’s bust and hands. Notable is in particular the Mediterranean landscape that can be hinted out of the windows opening on both sides of the study. Animals include a partridge (alectoris graeca) and a peacock, in the foreground, both having symbolical meanings, a cat and a mysterious lion in the shade on the right.”

Nevertheless, the painting is filled with architectural qualities that are too obvious to make a mere comment upon. The painting synthesis centralizes the saint on the vanishing point. The animals, the objects and the visible context at the background are not relevant to the architectural analysis. The qualities begin to emerge at first glance. The large gate commences the narrative, the architectural language provides a hint of the building type, the intense perspective depth reveals the awesomeness of the space and finally the wooden furniture complex, on which the saint is situated, is the focal point of the creation. Taking into consideration all these elements, I used them as the rules to formulate the theme for my 1:10 model representation of a university corridor.

[my earlier post on this work presshere]

On this work, one can observe the strict set-up, which in this case is the study of one of my professors at Kingston University. The doors on the hall-way are reinforcing the sense of depth while the lighting, the geometry and materiality are also carefully considered to provide the required sense of realism. Light penetrates from the left side of the corridor and it is intentionally northern so it is gracefully diffused on the opposite wall surfaces. Although the photograph is devoid of any human presence and inhabitation, it still provides the feeling that it is heavily used [The moment of capture is at an evening after a long day of tutorials and the corridor is significantly occupied by inhabitation].

Generally, the artwork is focused on the study and not anything that is not supposed to be apparent. We are not interested in what is happening behind that door on the right, outside the windows on the left or when we reach the end of the hall-way. This is a method that I tried to follow during my education so that I would not be required to design every bit of massing, furnishing and inhabitation. It was a test of finding the true priorities.


Bicycles in our homes

by Mario Soustiel

Bicycles should be an integral part of our everyday lives, and I don’t mean waking up, getting dressed-up, washed-up and ready and unlocking the bicycle from a remote area that you are not even sure you find it the next day! Bicycles should be in our homes. All our hero Designers and lead Architects of the 20th century have distanced the idea of cycling from our lives, promoting the car and its use. Car is the ‘American Dream’ and it needs unreasonably brave amounts of built area to accomodate. Cities have been deconstructed and reconstructed in the minds of our Architects and books have been published that explain this philosophy. I can admit that I have fallen into this mesmerising ideology because the city I come from has a huge traffic problem and non-existent car-parking space. Following the trend of a smooth vehicle circulation, great boulevards have literally sliced through great cities like Paris and have spread cities like Los Angeles so greatly that you can’t conceive going to buy groceries without buckling your seat-belt. – Think of the 20th century evolution of the majority of the cities on the American Continent, followed by Australia and South Africa and now rapidly evolving China – We haven’t changed a bit when functions of society are moving forward in the speed of light.

Bicycles are a part of our lives and they have been in fashion earlier than cars. ‘Common Sense’ is dictating that the bicycle is a transport vehicle and mayors around the globe are treating it as such. Bike-lanes, cycling rules, traffic lights and the worst, division of pedestrian/cyclist and cyclist/car-driver.

However, the bicycle is the tool that reunites these two worlds that were fiercely separated during the 50s – The mind of the car driver is a topic on its own right and I believe that anybody can understand what I mean (the hint is when the pedestrian actually shuts the driver’s door and turns on the engine) – and I base this belief on bike-speed which is thankfully not life threatening and undoubtedly more convenient. Applying the same set of rules for our precious bicycles is like creating another world on our existing city fabric and the picture on the left proves that point quite elegantly (*). There are better solutions to this problem and there are timid attempts that should eventually be included in this world-wide scheme I am trying to initiate. Generally, I aspire to the full integration of public transport and cycling as a starter and for my main dish I would introduce a culture that has the bicycle as similar as brushing your teeth in the morning.

NOW that we are on the same page, having appreciated the full potential of our bicycles, I can push the conversation towards the main topic – Bicycles can be transformed into an artefact that can touch our hearts deeper than a mindless revving speed car.


excerpt from Bike Blog in the Guardian website

Making life easier for cyclists raises property prices, say estate agents

Would secure cycle parking sway your property rental or purchasing decisions?

…Where do you leave your bike overnight? I’m lucky enough these days to live somewhere with an adjoining lock-up garage, where my cycles spend their off-duty time, attached securely to a ground anchor set in the concrete floor.

But at earlier addresses the only bike storage has generally been corridors and stairways, whether my own or shared. In one flat I even stored two bikes in the kitchen, though to be fair it was an unusually spacious kitchen…

…the advice of the eponymous Stephen Ludlow would seem relevant to anyone thinking of letting a property in an urban area:

Cyclists are increasingly important if you intend to let or sell to the 20-35 year old post-university market. Cyclists prefer not to leave their bike chained up on the street.
When renting a flat in converted houses, cyclists often ask if they can leave their bicycle in the shared hallway. Most contracts explicitly prevent this because if often leads to damage and can upset the other tenants. By agreeing, a landlord might have the edge if a tenant is weighing up two options.
Landlords of ex-local authority and new build housing can often offer the best solution, as those properties frequently provide storage sheds which are perfect for bicycles. But landlords in other housing types can make their properties more attractive to cyclists by installing safe storage, such as a secure shed unit which will fit in even a small front garden. Landlords that are leaseholders – either in a converted house or in a more modern block – can be proactive and negotiate with other leaseholders and the freeholder to provide shared storage. There will often be a net benefit as the desirability of the property is improved.



What I mean is… waking up, getting dressed-up, washed-up and ready, picking up your bicycle from your living-room or kitchen or main hall, checking the essentials like tyre pressure, oiled cranks, steering potential and into the lift or in optimum conditions out the door – Imagine grabbing your bicycle from outside the building while you open the window to allow fresh air to ventilate your room – .

Undoubtedly, treating your bicycle as an exoteric component of your everyday life seems more appropriate and the culture is apparently evolving to this extend. House prices are going up because bikers need their bikes be kept into safety, roads are turned into bicycle highways and bicycles are being treated as private vehicles and public ones. ( CYCLE PARKING???)


excerpt from Bike Blog in the Guardian website

Tell town planners where cycle parking is most needed

Convenient and secure cycle parking will encourage more people to commute on two wheels. Now you can help decide where it’s needed

Mayor Boris Johnson at the launch of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme on the South Bank, London.


This means that we Architects have to design buildings dedicated to cycling parking space, like car-parks, and introduce bike renting spaces or more appropriately an additional cost/burden to our lives.
Public bikes are wonderful and I support the trend, but I believe they have a date due. They are currently educating people to embrace the use of the bicycle with minimal costs.
  • Easy use – check –
  • “bike switching” – check –
  • Ecological Conscience – check –
The main reason that you might sense my second thoughts is mainly that we are going to treat our precious bicycles the same way we do our public transport vehicles – not like our own -. The image on the right is the example of not appreciating your property and also not respecting the boundaries of your fellow citizens. Bicycles being piled up in any corner of the street pavements and roads disturbing both of the worlds of the pedestrian and car user, which is ultimately our nightmare.
I want us to bring our Bicycles home. Include them in our family, like our clothes or just our shoes – We can’t think of our shoes being laid outside the house and we have dedicated some of our precious space for them – . They have become a fetich to some or a tool for walking for others. Bicycles should be conceived in the same way, as an extension to our routine, “Common Sense”, and I promise that Architects will embrace that thought and create spaces for them.
I would like to introduce the bicycle into our lives and create a ritual of respect. Expecting to buy a house, missing the bike room would be the deterrent factor. Going to work and not being able to cycle from home would be inconcevable. And going for vacation and not being able to take your bike on the bus/train or even on the airplane is just nonsense.
Thank you!

Seeing what’s there for the first time… Architectural Unmasking of Northolt, London

This work is part of the Vertical Project that was undertaken by Kingston University Architecture Department the school year 2009-10. The thesis is inspired by the (Design For LondonEast London Green Grid.

Northolt Village Green is a park within a tight urban environment. It accommodates a 1400 year-old Saxon Village, a traditional School, a Chapel and some more architectural remainders of the Victorian Era. The park is not complemented by this treasure and its people keep ignoring it by building around it. However, by close observation and appreciation the park was willing to reveal itself to us.

My group was ultimately responsible for investigating and promoting the area of Northolt. Our approach became a more poetic investigation which led the group to be inspired by the existing place rather than trying to implement amendments. We have located and recorded 5 artefact/point on our route as our representational pieces of our presentation. The 5 points are interrelated and interlinked.

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