My First Resolved Architectural Conception

Design Miami/Basel 2011 is my break – Production Assistant @ Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The Long Awaited installment is, at last, on display in BASEL.

This project began in the early March, by the time I was employed at the Gallery. All the pieces along with the set-design, vinyls and technical specifications were pre-considered on paper. It was realised thanks to the consistent correspondence between the FAIR and the GALLERY.

Most of the pieces on the 3D Model are ‘pre-conceptual’ which means that the artists waited for the moment of revelation at the fair. I had to base the design on blueprints and prototype photos. This is mainly the reason that the originals and the mock-ups aren’t similar.

I am glad that I had to overcome this issue, though; I somehow connected with the intention, the art and possibly the artist/designer. I felt I was the creator and for a moment, while I was sunk within sketches, notes and drawings , I felt like the work was mine.

 

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Studio Job – Presentation

The following slideshow is a presentation conceived as a last-minute call before the PAD Paris fair where carpenters workshop gallery took part.

My view was to present the pieces with as little text possible but powerful enough to convey their meaning only by a mere first impression. The work displayed is by the artist Robber Baron on behalf of the dutch Studio Job.

I leave you – as I did the visitors in the fair – to enjoy the pieces and make your own interpretations/criticism/scrutiny…

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Thanks

the Keystone

as presented in my Tech Thesis


The Keystone.

Amid the dense urbanism of Walsall the New Art Gallery can simultaneously be a prominent addition to the city and a humble existence within its context. This notion is paralleled internally where sombre corners and humble home-like materials are conjoined with an impressive seven-meter high foyer. This space was the interpretation to the brief demands that ‘first impressions matter’ and, ideally, this objective was achieved not only visually but also practically since the gallery flows gracefully from ground floor to the top floor.

The structural built-up is simple but sensible in its character. Elegant connections have been achieved where tectonics are precisely informing the internal geometry, which at first glance feels rather delicate and fragile; if you consider that a six meter-high gallery lies exactly above a single concrete joist. That joist is where this research is focusing upon, in other words the keystone that if actually removed the whole building will ultimately collapse.

written Mario Soustiel

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.


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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.

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THE MAIN DISH…

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???)

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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.

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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.
…THE BIKE ROOM…
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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Formulating a Brief before Design – The Arbour Youth Centre

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London has been expanding in great rates and major development project have been taking place in variety of regions across the Greater London Area.  However, London as a city has been erratic in its development where certain areas have been completely left out or others have been carefully catered. The urban fabric of the city is characterised by many controversies and juxtapositions, where architectural language is kept free but unregulated. This is partly due to deep scars of the bombings during the WWII, where land has been cleared up completely and the need for rapid redevelopment was eminent. Areas of historical and cultural significance were instantly amended, while poor families and immigrants crudely inhabited other areas. These ‘other’ areas we are set out to investigate and provide a sense of community, pride and significance.

The site, in focus, is at the East border of London city and it is an area marked by regular alterations to its physical and social fabric over the years. Stepney is rather problematic, lacking the social unity, the economic power and the cultural foundation in order to begin a strategy for improvement. One of the primary factors that reinforce this sense of indifference within the community is the constant substitution of its spiritual and cultural epicentre. Socially recognized and respected buildings lost their significance, spiritual centres have been losing their valuable congregation and the great range of spoken languages has divided the people into secluded fragmented groups.
From a rather superficial point of view, Stepney is a vast social residential area with little opportunities for employment but with substantial open green spaces. Its population consists of a large percentage of Bengali immigrants and a mixture of other ethnic groups. The local council has characterised its ward by its pattern of deprivation, worklessness, low incomes and poor health. Nevertheless, the area is scheduled to have a huge inflow of infrastructure projects thanks to the flourishing financial centres of the Docklands and the 2012 Olympics.

The site, in focus, is at the East border of London city and it is an area marked by regular alterations to its physical and social fabric over the years. Stepney is rather problematic, lacking the social unity, the economic power and the cultural foundation in order to begin a strategy for improvement. One of the primary factors that reinforce this sense of indifference within the community is the constant substitution of its spiritual and cultural epicentre. Socially recognized and respected buildings lost their significance, spiritual centres have been losing their valuable congregation and the great range of spoken languages has divided the people into secluded fragmented groups.From a rather superficial point of view, Stepney is a vast social residential area with little opportunities for employment but with substantial open green spaces. Its population consists of a large percentage of Bengali immigrants and a mixture of other ethnic groups. The local council has characterised its ward by its pattern of deprivation, worklessness, low incomes and poor health. Nevertheless, the area is scheduled to have a huge inflow of infrastructure projects thanks to the flourishing financial centres of the Docklands and the 2012 Olympics.

Our project is not relative to any of the grand redevelopments but it is a stepping-stone or a catalyst that will enhance the sense of involvement, solidarity from within. It is targeted directly at the root of the problem, the fragmented community. The project is to re-establish the Arbour Youth Centre in its context and enhance its sense of place and purpose. The current edifice housing the centre is a blind and unwelcoming entity that, architecturally speaking, turns its back to its environment and consequently to its people. It is situated on a reclaimed cemetery and it severely lacks the dialogue with its surrounding. Its identity is kept hidden within the heavy masonry walls and it lacks the formality of entrance, thus its formality of existence.

My research build-up has been the interplay of interior and exterior by projecting the qualities of the interior and the activities from within on the external skin, thus revealing the sense of purpose to the outside. This has been achieved by series of observations and recordings both graphically and three-dimensionally, within the macro and micro, the permanent and the ephemeral. The main influence is stemming from the seminal project by Jorn Utzon, the Bagsvaerd Kirke in Denmark, and my model-interpretation of the church, which accidentally fashioned a dialogic face from exterior to interior.

Aspiring to overcome the economic burden, the intervening force of the programme will focus on the re-interpretation and re-ordering of the main interior spaces with considerable alterations to its appearance both internally and externally. These moves are justified as a gesture towards the community, the removal of its physical boundaries. It will gradually reclaim the lost ground and re-establish the identity of the composition and provide pocket-spaces than the fragmented and uninspiring park.

Programme

  • New Entrance
  • Library – Reading Space – Classroom
  • Small Venue Space and Recital
  • Office and workshop Space
  • Cafeteria – Refectory

STRATEGY & PLANNING

“A society grows great when the old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall not sit in” – Ancient Greek Proverb

The main intention for the intervention has been primarily fuelled by an overall assessment of the area of Stepney. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses, we aimed at identifying the key issues that make Stepney problematic. Our immediate goal is to boost pride and social security by investing on education of the youth. We focus on the “Core Strategy and Development Control Plan” for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which aspires to improve the quality of social and community facilities in order to support growth. We have set a long-term goal for 2050 with a key moment that focuses on improving the moral of the residents. The objective is to have the people of Stepney in a constant exposure to their role-models/Local Heroes. This would be achieved by improving the quality and quantity of residential and open spaces (PPS 1 – Planning Policy Statement that deal with Delivering a Sustainable Development).

Our project concern is based on the improvement of the Shandy Park in terms of directionality, feel, protection and management of its important views. The park is part of the ‘Ocean Estate’, which currently controls almost half of the ward in terms of property. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is supportive to the Ocean Estate cause by recently backing a £200 million plan for its regeneration. Evidently, the Ocean Estate has set its own goals for its development, which are included in a programme called ‘Ocean NDC – New Deal for Communities.
Taking that into consideration and the planning for open spaces, sports and recreation (PPG17), we reorder the park organization by dividing it into useful segments that will form a strategic ‘navel’. That navel is the Arbour Youth Centre, the epicentre of growth and education.
PROCUREMENT

The project requires quick moves and fast decisions since fund-raising will definitely be a key player in construction. Consequently the most efficient procurement method for a smooth operation is the Design and Built Novation.
“An alternative is to appoint a contractor when designs have been developed in order to retain control of the important elements of design and specification. The Design Team can then transfer their contractual obligations to the contractor and complete the designs on behalf of the Contractor. This process is called Novation.”
The main factor that this method is applied is the low risk of delaying construction and it is highly practical in terms of communication between the client and the contractor. According to the Architect’s handbook of Construction Project Management, the Design and Built is incorporating low cost with high speed construction and a fairly secure cost estimate from Stage D and onwards. The design will involve tactile interventions and an extensive use of existing fabric. With respect to any relevant regulations concerning fire safety and inclusive design, the strategy for the project is about clearing obstacles and creating views within the existing building enclosure.
Due to the peculiarity of the existing fabric, there is difficulty in properly insulating and illuminating the interior spaces. For that reason the principal of construction that will be followed is similar to the Dovecot Studio Extension by the Architect Haworth Tompkins.
The idea behind that is to ensure low cost on fabrication and assembly, low energy consumption, environmental comfort and sustainable design.
The proposed design will offer a low cost and consistent environment, which in turn will be enclosed by the existing structure of the former Parish Hall, thus preserving the identity of the neighbourhood with a high performance building. The prefabricated elements will be easy to transport since they are going to be manufactured at a nearby construction yard in Deptford.
FUNDRAISING
“Community Buildings also mirror change in society. This is both at the level of activities taking place within and around the building and at the level of reflecting major themes in our society. When users of a Community Hall were asked, ‘What are the two major difficulties you face?’ the top five answers were:
Funds 36%, none 16%, Apathy 16%, Building maintenance 15% and Vandalism 9%”.
(Source: Paul Marriot for Community Matters)
The Client of the Arbour Youth Centre has been particularly insistent on introducing new methods for funding. Currently, the centre has a borderline funding, which is substantial for covering energy costs, security, educational material and minor repairs. The main source of funding is from a private charity and some other occasional charity events through the year.  Local authorities and the governement have a rather sporadic finance strategy but recently there is a generous development infrastructure plan for the area.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is problematic but it is developing in a very fast pace, which means that the area is blessed with activity and attention.
The client is interested in creating flexible spaces that could potentially serve as workstations, educational spaces, community events and retail market.
The proposed program includes all the spaces suggested and it will introduce a more appropriate cost management. The main aim is to ensure the future successful function of the community centre and the design is dealing with issues that range from a masterplanning to an efficient budget management strategy. The objective for a viable fundraising strategy is to create a formal business plan that will comply with the requirements as stated in the Part II of the Charities Act (source: Managing your Community Building – Peter Hudson).
The fundraising will consequently finance the construction and a create a consistent source of revenue for the Centre.
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Measures that would ensure a smooth function are as follows:
Immediate Intervention Benefits

•Short-term building time (leads to: short-term cease of services during that process)
•Affordable construction and local labor
•Sustainable Design

Long-term Benefits

•Reduction of Utility Costs
•Introduction of new funding sources
•Promotion of Volunteer work (leads to: loyal ‘friends’ of the Arbour)
•Space-hire, Small Retail opportunities
•Workshops (leads to: moral boost)
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[by MSOU]