BIM Level 2
Is the industry ready for 2016?
Pochin’s has secured a £10.8m contract to develop a 165,000 sq ft warehouse for BAE Systems next to its F-35 Lightning jet manufacturing site in Samlesbury, Lancashire.

The facility will be among the first major developments in the Lancashire Enterprise Zone that sits alongside BAE Systems’ advanced manufacturing facility where it employs more than 4,000 people.

The project will involve the design and construction of a new build distribution warehouse and an office pod, operated by Wincanton, BAE Systems’ logistics contractor.

The warehouse forms the first stage of a wider development adjacent to the airfield, and will involve extensive earthworks to prepare the site.

It is one of five £10m-plus live projects for Pochin’s, including works for TJ Morris in Liverpool and at Trafford Point in Manchester.

Jim Nicholson, CEO of Pochin’s, said: “We’re hugely proud to have secured yet another £10m contract, for one of the world’s largest defence contractors and one of the region’s biggest employers.

“The site at Samlesbury Aerodrome has huge historical importance – it has been central to advances in aeronautical engineering since the 1920s, and this project will cement its future as a centre of innovation in the sector.”
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You may have heard that the construction industry is set for yet another momentous change, as every single construction project in the public sector is required to be BIM Level 2 compliant by the start of 2016. Is the industry ready though?

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, for those that have not come across the term before, is the collaborative use of a 3D model, that allows everyone from an architect, engineer and consultant through to a manufacturer, ground worker and site manager to input their own sets of data. This data can then be scrutinised for errors, costs can be easily calculated, and most importantly, significant problems can be detected early on in the design and construction process, saving time and money.

The UK Government, spearheaded by the 'BIM Task Group' has insisted that every centrally funded project is to be BIM Level 2 compliant by 2016. Their intention through the programme is to 'signifanctly improve the costs, value and carbon performance' of construction projects.

BIM Level 2 means that not only are all documents shared between stakeholders, but they are also all required to be of the same file format that is universally accessible. This effectively means that an architect or a door manufacturer should be able to open, update and share every single bit of data related to the project. Learn more about the different levels of BIM from the official website.

There are possible implications in making this a requirement for a project however, as some smaller construction companies will undoubtedly have less success with public sector projects at tender stage as they do not have necessary level of BIM co-ordination needed. This is because there is cost implications and time needed to develop the skills required by employees to use the necessary software to an effective standard. 

Although this will now be required from 2016 it was actually first published by BIS back in 2011. The question is; has 4 years been enough time to prepare, and is the industry willing to make this significant change to the way a construction project is undertaken? 

Ryan Holland
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From the majestic Taj Mahal of India to the mysterious pyramids of Egypt, the world is filled with structures which not only baffle minds but also induce a sense of feeling small and insignificant as we stare at their gigantic sizes. What is more amazing is the fact that all these structures were built by people with minds similar to those who are astonished at these structures. The only difference was: those minds were trained in a discipline called Architecture.

Architecture is more than a study. It is the combination of art and engineering. An architect designs structures keeping in mind their utility, their aesthetical appeal and the safety of their occupants. In other words, architects merge aspects of art with the practical usage of the buildings they design.

One of the biggest advantages of being an architect is the euphoria you will feel when you see your idea becoming a part of your city’s skyline. To see something which was born from your thoughts taking a tangible shape and benefitting people is one of the most satisfying feelings. Architecture gives your mind freedom. Architects can express themselves through their designs.

“Architecture is not merely a career. It’s a lifestyle” says Bob Borson, an architect from Texas. He explains that architects think about their profession all the time. For them, it’s not ‘job’, rather a state of mind in which they are immersed always, enjoying it and honing it.

With the growing need for housing in developing countries, architects have a huge demand around the world. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics of the United States Department of Labour, year 2012 recorded more than 100,000 jobs for entry level architects with a bachelor’s degree.

Even the study of architecture has diversified and branched into several specializations including landscape design, urban design and planning, ecological management, environmental design, urban conservation, heritage management and many others. Architects are trained in visual communications, design theories and architecture history. They are also taught about building materials, construction, structural elements, and environmental challenges among other subjects.

In India, apart from prospects in the private sector, an architect can find employment in National Institute of Urban Affairs, Public Works Department, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Ministry of Defence, National Building Organization, Archaeological Department, Town and Country Planning Organization, Departments of Railways, Post and Telegraphs, Public Sector Undertakings, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd., etc. 

Technology has brought new tools and enhanced the creativity of architecture. In the present era, architects have more opportunities to explore their ideas than ever before. The designing work has not just been made easy but has also inherited several changes which have shifted the plates of architecture and made it a more dynamic and deep study.

A career in architecture is the right choice for students who possess an analytical mind, visualization skills, are creative and have a strong inclination towards designing structures. If you possess these skills, then you will find it hard to resist the lure of combining art with practise and knowledge with tangible results. 

Kelly Brooke
Guest Contributor
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Construction sites haven't changed much within the past 20 years. Sure, as the Health and Safety Executives have got a bit more of a look in the procedures that have been put in place are much more rigorous, but as technology rapidly improves in other sectors, what advances can we expect in the near future.

Work phones are an essential tool in everybody's working lives. We would be dramatically hindered in our capabilities if we were not able to call a specific person whether you happen to be. It is sensible then that everyone from  the project manager to the site foreman has access to one.

Smartphones are capable of so much more than simply calling and texting however, and are often under-utilised. They can be preloaded with specialist apps to perform specific additional features, such as assisting with file sharing, construction drawing management and even updating snagging records on the go. Smartphones can also be used for progress or hazard reporting, by taking photos and uploading them to a central database that everyone can see.

We can also expect a much greater emphasis on sustainable and cost saving ex-situ modular construction. Meaning that large sections of the project, sometimes even entire rooms, can be prefabricated off site, with the core materials (external cladding, structural frame and insulation) already installed. On site the sections are simply aligned and bolted/glued together. 

The most note worthy example of this technology in use is the newly completed 57 floor skyscraper, completed in just 19 days (SOURCE)This awe-inspiring skyscraper contains 800 apartments, office space for 4,000 people and 19 atriums.

Of particular interest is the 'Daqri Smart Helmet' which was featured recently by Engadget. The concept, developed by Los Angeles start up Daqri, is essentially a standard safety hard hard, which still meets the required safety standards, however a camera similar to the one used in the Google Glass is fitted and a transparent visor would act as a screen. 

The benefits of this type of technology being common place on a construction site are endless. Imagine been able to accurately measure the height of a column simply by looking at it? Or even answering a phone call without having to fumble around taking off your safety gloves?

How practical this type of technology would be remains to be seen, and a shift in mind sets would be needed before people are convinced to change over from tried and tested methods. I myself wouldn't want to have to charge my hard hat at the end of each day!

The construction industry is expected by many to be an exciting place to work in the coming years, and although it has always been somewhat behind technologically, it is catching up fast. Watch this space, something revolutionary is just around the corner.
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© Kansas City Car Park
As an avid book lover and passionate literature student, the sheer delight which I felt when taking a peek at Kansas City’s beautifully renovated car park is understandably quite intense. It’s not just about the books, either – great selection that they are. It’s about turning a drab, generally un-motivating environment into one which is colourful, uplifting and, most importantly, one which introduces ideas. It’s impossible to walk or drive away without thinking, “Hmmm... it’s been a while since I’ve picked up that book. I wonder if I should give it another go?” And hereby a place as blasé as a car park suddenly becomes a place of transformation. It’s places like this which make cityscape's such a fascinating arena for creativity in various shapes and forms – of metamorphosing what would once have been a passing thought in a pedestrian’s mind into something more, and transcending what even the most ambitious of large-scale architectural projects can sometimes fail to achieve.

Recording Our Stories, Recycling Our Memories

What makes these public spaces so poignant is their personal capacity. There is no sense of pretentiousness, the tension which comes with deliberate presentation which turns so many of our great museums into places where they say “art goes to die.” Here, it comes to life, in the most unlikely of surroundings, capturing the element of surprise beautifully and inspiring us in a multitude of ways. Reclaiming our public spaces encompasses a variety of cultural movements, from the glorious street art of hip hop culture to the empowering, edgy, and heart-wrenching stories painted on the Berlin Wall where people turned war and pain into art. They are the brutally honest portraits of our time, perhaps in some ways more authentic than the classical murals and frescoes which we have come to revere.

But it’s not all fraught with politics and war. Walking down any cosmopolitan city with a Bohemian flair like Berlin, Barcelona, New York and Montreal – just to name a few – will reveal that even the tiniest of places, or the most seemingly abandoned, can become intimate and welcoming, as well as a place for the community to come together. The High Line in New York is a great testament of collective effort to “recycle” a public place and transform it into a vibrant green space where people can gather from the surrounding neighbourhoods and enjoy a measure of nature, reflective of many alleyways and small parks throughout the city which provide a valuable community purpose. And now, such urban areas are becoming recognised not only within their immediate community but on a national scale, as well – London’s famous Rom skatepark is now a national heritage site, and other similar cultural shrines are now preserved thanks to their community stepping forward and saying “hands off, these are our memories, this is our identity.”

A New Business Model

That doesn’t mean that every hot locale has to be preserved in perfection, but perhaps the most interesting and challenging phenomena of reclaiming cultural space is how we continue to interact with it as well as observe and reflect on it. And where there is an interest, money inevitably follows, and this can be a good thing. From real estate to business, converting old industrial buildings into chic cafes and trendy apartments is a popular pursuit, and some cities have become truly innovative in this approach, from turning old cellars and churches into swanky bars and nightclubs and old boats into bookstores. Design elements are always controversial, but for the most part, business owners are happy to maintain some of the original decor – such as ornate ceilings and exposed brick walls – and artfully combine it with modern features.

This is certainly a more conscientious method of building a business, rather than demolishing and starting from the ground up. However, it does entail a lot of expense, from obtaining permission relating to which parts of the building are historically protected to making it more energy efficient and meeting current health and safety standards as well as accessibility. Additionally this also impacts the coverage which that business has as well, encompassing a variety of factors. As well as these practical aspects to consider, business owners must be truly diverse in their brainstorming process, finding innovative ways to convert a building purposed for a different time and bring it into modern society. Fortunately, the popularity of these spaces thrives on the fact that the “history” which is imprinted in the building itself serves as quirky, attractive feature, and provided the environment is warm, welcoming, and easy to access, it is yet another valuable urban space.

And so while many grandiose projects look towards the future, on a smaller scale, communities look to the past when regenerating their urban environment. Whether it’s creating a small, green marketplace in an alleyway, renovating a local church or painting a new mural on a school wall, as individuals and neighbours, we are making special spaces happen because of our love affair – and curiosity – with bygone times and the desire to make new ones.

Author Bio
This is a freelance article by Anne Reading
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Pochin Construction, a North West based construction firm, are currently in the final snagging phases of completing the highly anticipated 75,000 sq ft Altrincham Hospital. The hospital is a 6 storey concrete framed build, containing an assortment of services that will replace those at the existing hospital, less than 200 meters away. 

The site was previously comprised of a row of disused and dilapidated shop units, with green land space behind. In building the hospital, every possible square meter available of space has been used in the scheme, transforming the once underused site into a hub of regeneration.

Major construction work began in March 2013, with the traditional topping out ceremony taking place in May 2014. External ground works, including a bin store, parking bays and patient drop off points have recently been completed. Re-rendering works are currently underway to the rear elevation of the hospital, however disruption shall be mitigated to car park users of the multi-storey Total Fitness car park.

Haemodialysis suites on the second floor have been operational since 6th April 2015. The remainder of the hospital is set to open on Monday 27th April 2015.

Patient haemodialysis areas will become fully operational next week. Patients will be transferred from the existing hospital along with the required nurses, staff and equipment. Following this, the remainder of the hospital is expected to be open to the public near the end of April.

From the Architect, AHR Architects - 
"The design of the new hospital is in the form of a natural stone faced multi-storey building (from 3 to 5 stories) and incorporates a variety of services including x-ray, haemodialysis, audiology, outpatients and physiotherapy."

Key Medical Services:
  • Haemodialysis 
  • X-ray Theatres 
  • Minor Injuries Unit
  • Out-Patient Consultation
  • Treatment Rooms
  • Audiology Booth
  • Physiotherapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood Testing Services
Sustainable and Environmental Features
A number of key environmentally friendly technologies has enabled the hospital to achieve an 'very good' BREEAM rating, the industry recognised standard for the design and assessment of sustainable developments. This award was achieved by incorporating a green sedum roof, a bank of state of the art photovoltaic panels and high quality construction methods, which include the use of high density insulation board and double glazed curtain walling sections.

Key Facts:
Budget: £17million
Floor Area: 75,000 sq ft
Principal Contractor: Pochin Construction
Architect: AHR Architects
Structural Engineer: Capita

Further redevelopments are also currently underway in the area, with the regeneration of the Goose Green Square. Civil Engineering contractor Cooney's are laying the foundations, drainage and main structural elements for the scheme. The derelict Blooms building could also be transformed into a Morrison's Local store, if planning permission permits the scheme.

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The critics of Brutalist architecture draw from a modest stockpile of clichés. Say ‘Brutalist’ and expect to hear the words ‘ugly’, ‘car park’, and from the lips of the more discerning viewer, something similar to this sentence: ‘it projects an atmosphere of totalitarianism’. Brutalism’s rough exteriors seem to encourage the kind of brickbats rarely thrown toward dainty, pretty constructions; as though their cold appearance, so often linked to another cliché – ‘urban decay’ – is so resilient it can take such condemnation, simply because it’s unattractive and can stoically absorb the hits; because it’s impossible to offend something that looks so offensive. As Brutalism chose to be ‘ugly’, with its designers discarding all make-up, seductive architectural clothing, and instead wishing to expose their structure’s blemishes, what should their creators expect?  In all fairness to the critics, Brutalism is rather strident and uncompromising. But to think of Brutalism as nothing more than dour concrete high rises that evoke Orwell’s 1984 (that’s our fourth cliché already), is to overlook the considerable theory and innovation of this sub-genre. It’s been prosecuted enough. It deserves some PR.

© National Theatre 2015
In London, it begins with the Southbank Centre. Built in 1951 to demonstrate Britain’s war recovery, Robert Matthew and Leslie Martin’s Royal Festival Hall was the first in a complex of cultural buildings that revived what used to be a bleak, industrial side of the Thames. When joined by its neighbour in 1976 – Sir Denys Lasdun’s fervently Brutalist National Theatre – this group of radical upstarts were considered as obdurate as the pop culture that coincided with the times, the architectural equivalent of the Sex Pistols calling Bill Grundy a ‘dirty fucker’ on live TV.  Lasdun’s design has been mocked (Prince Charles said it resembled a ‘nuclear power station’) but also cherished, and has become, to many, ‘the nation’s living room’ due to its series of social spaces that afford views of Westminster, The City, and a south bank promenade rejuvenated by The London Eye. Lasdun was hugely influenced by modernists Le Corbusier and Mies Van De Rohe, architects who sought to focus on a building’s function rather than what were seen as the ostentatious and unnecessary design features of pre-war movements. Examples are typically very linear, blockish, and fortress-like, though not devoid of sinuosity. They are concrete constructions (Le Corbusier’s term ‘beton brut’ translates as raw concrete), often combined with amenities built into internal streets meaning entire communities began to live in a new way. It was an anti-aesthetic philosophy that flourished from the 1950’s to the mid-1970’s, and though often derided by critics and the public alike, examples of the sub-genre survive and have recently been granted Grade II listed status, the Southbank Centre being one such case.

Though some complain about the Southbank’s inter-connecting walk-ways, circular stairwells, and numerous spilt levels, it’s these same terraces that create the vibrant atmosphere that’s given the Southbank its status as national communal area. One doesn’t need to visit the Centre’s Hayward Gallery or Royal Festival Hall to enjoy the space. A drink outside on the terraces watching London go by is a simple, low-cost pleasure. On such a favourable day Brutalism becomes more visually appealing and even seems to question its own anti-aesthetic stance. Against a blue sky the Southbank Centre looks more striking than any nuclear power station or car park you will ever see. Its concrete façade, which has, it must be said, weathered quite badly in areas due to its porous nature, looks brighter on a fine day, shedding more of its ascetic veneer with every sunbeam. It reminds me of the 1950’s photographs when the building looked revolutionary, when the concrete was near-white, when the complex appealed even to some conservative critics. Not convinced? Then look inside…. 

Low-lit spacious areas, bars and occasional kiosks, modernist shapes, leather seats; brown and orange against the bare concrete walls. It’s hard to enter these buildings and not mutter, “cool” to yourself. If airport interiors were like this all pre-flight nerves would erode, though you’d risk missing your flight due to being so relaxed by the ambience. Have a good look at the texture of the concrete and you will see a variety of finishes, including the imprints left by the wood ‘shuttering’ (moulds) when the concrete was cast in situ. Brutalism shows its scars, but scars can be more interesting than cosmetics. The National Theatre might connect to each space but this is a theatrical setting in itself and it encourages you to take your time and to settle in.

From Waterloo Bridge you will see, just beyond the postmodernist cluster of The City, three brownish high rises. Unimpressive from here, imposing from there. This is the Barbican Estate. It’s Brutalist heaven to some, Brutalist hell to others; the apogee of modernism or a veritable excrescence on the London skyline. You might expect a dubious sign upon arrival: “Welcome to the Barbican Estate. Where the weak are killed and eaten”. But the reality is one of pleasant communal areas and tranquillity in an otherwise boisterous part of the capital.

The largest complex of its kind and film location for Get Carter and A Clockwork Orange, the Barbican Estate has come to symbolise the social problems of the 1970’s, despite having a decent record against crime and a vibrant hub of high culture within its grounds by way of the Barbican Centre, which was built in 1982, 23 years after the Barbican Estate began to rise from post-Blitz east London. It was recently voted ‘London’s Ugliest Building’ (presumably voters meant the entire complex of high rises, lower residential blocks, and the Barbican Arts Centre), but is also one of the most sought-after locations in the capital and like the Southbank Centre, is Grade II listed.

I have to question whether those who voted have explored the estate in person or just via the scenes of dystopian run-down society in A Clockwork Orange.  Open walkways, raised from street level, provide an immediate escape from the congested, thunderous roads of east London. It’s nearly soundproofed, yet one is still outside; it’s a pedestrianised village elevated from the mêlée. Explore further (the voters can’t have done this) and you will find a large conservatory, then a lake complete with Brutalist fountains (non-decorative, it’s all about the soothing sound they create, not how they look) and on a charitable day for weather, you will see residents and passersby relaxing next to the bar or dangling their feet over the waters. Even the three commanding high-rises – all named after famous writers, Shakespeare being one of them - have features to ponder. The cantilevered balconies create repeated, cascading forms, and also prevent residents from feeling like they live on a cliff edge, as the balconies are chest-high, curve inwards and feel protective. This same feature also protects the lower flats from the full effects of inclement weather. All living rooms are situated at the corner of the blocks, thus allowing maximum natural light to enter. Brutalism is much more than its outer skin. The recent vote was a bad advert for democracy.

Still not convinced? Then head west to The Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury, a former council estate which felt the full vitriol of the modernist backlash. Now its one of the most fashionable places in this part of the capital, complete with upmarket boutiques, an independent cinema and thriving shops. Above them, in a typical Brutalist arrangement, are terraces of flats – some 560 of them – that have a brighter, less weathered concrete exterior.  Such is the pleasing appearance of The Brunswick Centre, I can’t help but wonder if hardcore Brutalists might think it a censored version of the genus and something of a sell-out. Such fears do not apply further west though, near Paddington, where Erno Goldfinger’s 1972 Trellick Tower broods at nearly 400 feet over Kensington.

© Barbican Estate
Unlike The Barbican Estate Trellick did have an unsavoury reputation for anti-social behaviour, this time based on reality rather than cinema (though it has featured in numerous music promos).  Though a gritty edge remains, it’s not uncommon for a flat to be sold for around £500,000, and once again Grade II listed status has been awarded. Besides typically Brutalist characteristics Trellick features a separate lift and service tower linked at every third storey to the access corridors of the main building. It’s a detail that makes it distinct from London’s other surviving Brutalist structures, a signature that makes Trellick as different from The Barbican as The Barbican is from the Southbank Centre. Goldfinger (Ian Fleming appropriated his surname for the Bond villain) created a building that’s experienced the same polemic of love and hate that seems inevitable for any Brutalist construction. Designing a building that provokes disdain must be difficult to stomach, but it might be more palatable than indifference.

Ironic, then, that for all Brutalism’s faults – true, the years are rarely kind to their exterior and you might think that you’re in Pyonyang on a rainy day – Brutalism has what few critics of this subject appear to demonstrate – originality, and a closer inspection of the detail and its accompanying theory. That said, my hypocrisy should be exposed like the shuttering moulds of the concrete casting. I once turned down a place at Wolfson College, Oxford because I loathe its modernist, semi-Brutalist architecture (the interior is divine though), and even threatened to detonate the Oxford’s Brutalist Council Building for offences to architecture and the city. This was more to do with place than architecture though. Brutalism and tumultuous, growling London are a good fit.

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Dubai has changed a lot in the past 30 years, it's construction industry is now one of the most proficient in the world, and most buildings appear to hold some Record Breaking title, from World's Tallest Building (Burj Khalifa), to the most luxurious hotel (Burj Al Arab). It's no surprise then that, due to the endless amounts of money and investment available, architects are able to try out new groundbreaking designs, with limited risk.

Architect Dr. David Fisher, Founder of Dynamic Architecture has envisaged a slightly different future for the construction industry in Dubai, than what can currently be seen. He sees a way for buildings and skyscrapers to be able to become self reliant, constantly changing, and all whilst providing the comfort and home necessities that Dubai's elite have come to expect.

The firms latest innovation, known simply as 'Dynamic Tower', is a 80 floor, 420 metres high skyscraper, which is capable of generating it's own electricity via the output of 48 wind turbines mounted between each floor level. Our only concern would be how loud these wind turbines actually are, as the ferocious desert winds flow through the building.

There is another interesting addition however. As you may have guessed, each floor is able to rotate independently in both directions. This means that as you sit in your office, or read a book in bed, your view will be constantly changing every time you look up, sounds great, right?

Externally, things begin to get really interesting. The almost 'rectangular' floor sections create a constantly changing pattern, from fluid and smooth, through to random assortments of angles, which vaguely resemble a Jenga game gone horrendously wrong!
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Villa Savoye, a monstrous structure in reinforced concrete, designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, was built between 1928 and 1931. Its visual language is iconic of the ‘International Style’ and Corbusier’s five points of architecture (pilotis, roof gardens, free-plan, ribbon windows, free-façade). The villa derives its reputation in the world of architectural and design history, primarily due to its radically innovative, breaking-away-from-the-past aesthetic. The analogy of houses as machines for living, boosted the ideas of humanism and the belief that man is, in fact, the centre of everything that exists and the tapping of human potential can result in substantial progress. The appearance of the Villa Savoye was unconventional and its indifference seemed appealing initially.   

In an attempt to rid architecture of Classicism and any references to it, Corbusier created a set of principles that would set his buildings apart from earlier buildings. He contrasted the massive solidity of earlier buildings, with slender pilotis that created the illusion of spacious, airy, uncluttered living. Highly ornate window frames were replaced by horizontal strips of openings, devoid of any attention-seeking borders or frames. In other words, he rejected the generic, stylised Classical boxes and created a module to clone buildings in a manner befitting the modern age- the generic, stripped-of-embellishment box. To break away from one style, one had to create another one. 

In ‘The Ten Books on Architecture’, Vitruvius says that the three most desirable and vital properties of any built structure are firmitas, utilitas and venustas (solid, useful and beautiful). People interpreted and developed these ‘principles’ into rigid, tangible elements, the repetition of which conditioned a general, public expectation of buildings to appear a certain way. It didn’t matter what the purpose of the building was- a bank, a post office, a governmental institution, a residence or a hotel- every space was marked by columns, domes, a raised entrance, lavish decorative elements and a pediment squeezed in, somehow. Earlier, the ‘problem’ was one of marking civilisation, ancestry and tradition, for which, the sciences and geometry were looked upon. Symmetry, balance, unity and proportion were the answers to doubt, disbelief and a lack of confidence. 

Architecture of the Classical age was a result of politics and the need for approval seeking from the masses. The eye determined what pleased it and since there was no precedent to compare, it trained itself to seek harmony, unity and balance in repetition. The power of kings was symbolised by the solidity and sturdiness of built forms, apart from their towering scale. Even today, architecture of the Classical era, creates awe and appreciation for precisely the same reasons. However, one must take note that the buildings we often discuss when talking about the Classical age, were largely for public use. We talk about temples, palaces and market places. We seldom talk about houses in which subjects lived. Architecture, like any other science, has a typology that dictates its relevance. It would be absurd to re-create a building of the past today, as well as to recreate a building for a purpose not originally intended for it.

The aesthetics of the Villa Savoye are subjective. However, its purpose as a dwelling for people to grow, nourish and nurture is highly questionable and a step back in the evolution of architecture. Man has addressed his need for accommodation in a variety of ways in the past, the earliest being caves. The cave was a perfect habitat to protect one from unfavourable weather, wild animals and any other disturbances. When the most basic needs of our shelter are addressed, then, we seek sensual stimulation through tangible and intangible experiences.    

It is rather difficult to conceive of man in the centre of the universe, controlling nature and advancing towards the future with science and its developments when the roof of your house is leaking and your rooms are flooded with water.   

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When it comes to designing a new home or even extending an original home it can become a stressful endeavour. By taking the time to make sure that you hire the right architect, you can lessen the level of stress drastically. This process does not have to be painstaking or overly complex. There are eight questions that you should ask an architect before hiring them. The answer to these questions will provide the lucidity necessary to make an educated decision.

1. Do you like their current projects?

As a general rule, an architect's portfolio reflects their passion — revealing the type of projects that excites them; however, there are those times that an architect's portfolio is so diverse that it requires that you ask them about their latest projects to get an idea of where they are currently at.

2. Which projects represent their best work?

Imagine that you have become familiar with the work of a particular architect, and you have developed an affinity for several of their past projects. By asking the architect to share their best work it will allow for you to determine if you share the same ideas and inspirations.

3. What is the potential of my project?

After an architect has visited the potential site, or in the case of a remodelling project, walked through your home, ask them what they see happening with the project. One architect may want to emphasise the view while another may want to accentuate the landscaping. You are asking this question to determine if you and the architect at least have some ideas in common.

4. How do they manage the permit review and regulations process?

Actually, the methodology is not as important as timing in this particular area. Whether the architect prefers to use a meeting or a checklist is irrelevant; however, when they start the process is highly important. This should be done immediately after they have been assigned the project, not after the design is finished.

5. How do they document decisions, and is there a way that you can refer back to previous decisions?

There can be 100's of decisions that a client may have to make over the course of a project from room dimensions to glazing types. Unfortunately, with many architects, the only way to reference these decisions is in the final construction drawing; however, there are some architects who keep a user-friendly document that displays all of the decisions for easy referencing.

6. How will they manage your budget?

The vast majority of architects will provide a preliminary estimate for the cost of the project. It is important to get this before moving past the schematic phase of the project. It is also important to determine how the architect will ensure that the works are within the allowed budget.

7. Will they be actively involved during the construction phase?

The majority of the architectural profession has moved from a purely design and consultation practise into a more project management role, especially on smaller projects. You will want an architect who either, includes construction services as a part of the fee or at least offers it as an additional option. If this is not the case, it should send up an immediate red flag.

8. What is and is not included in the final price?

Simply getting the final price is not enough. You will need to understand what will be included and what you may end up paying extra for. If at all possible, attempt to get an all-inclusive estimate.

Asking these questions should provide a solid foundation on which you will be able to make an informed decision. Once your residential project is completed recommend checking out Modernize for home design ideas!

Tim Smith

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Only a concept at this stage, but a new design proposed by Australian based prefab architecture specialists, Modscape Concept, has had the Internet in a frenzy today as computer generated images were released of their new 5 storey 'Cliff House'. 

The positioning of the 3 bedroom house allows for 180 degree, uninterrupted ocean views, although we hope a thorough structural analysis has been completed on the rock face, as the house is supposedly cantilevered on steel pins.

One benefit we can see is that at least purchasing the land to build this house on will be extremely cheap!

© Modscape Concept
© Modscape Concept
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Home to some of the greatest pieces of architecture, Australia best presents itself as a land of free-spirited people if the designs of these masterpieces are anything to go by. 

If  you are planning to visit 'the land down under', there are numerous places that are a must-visit, purely due to the architectural prowess on display. Below are the 5 most amazing Australian architectural delights.

Sydney Opera House
Copyright: Alpha Coders (link)
  • The Sydney Opera House was tendered in an open competition in 1956, receiving 232 entrants. Jorn Utzon's design only just won, since three of the four judges were unimpressed and rejected the design immediately. It took the foresight and imagination of the fourth judge, Eero Saarinen, to convince the other judges and eventually bring Jorn Utzon's design to fruition.
  • So significant is this architectural piece that it was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2007, aptly described as a 'masterpiece of 20th century architecture'.
  • The Opera House is constructed from a concrete frame and the roof was precast in sections and slotted into place. 
  • Completion of the project in 1973 meant that the total cost of the structure was around $859million in today's money.

Sydney Tower
Copyright: Get Your Guide (link)
  • It is not only Sydney's highest view point at 305 meters, it also offers magnificent aerial views of the city.
  • In addition to an exhilarating view point, Sydney Tower also avails 4D cinematography showing the best views the city has to offer.
  • The architectural genius behind this outstanding structure was Donald Crone who envisioned a 'needle in the skyline'.

Stadium Austrialia (ANZ Stadium)
Copyright: Populous (link)
  • The grand Sydney Olympic Stadium is to date, the largest facility ever constructed that is specifically used for the Olympic Games. 
  • Designed by Bligh V. Nied, the stadium is one of the outstanding pieces of architecture in Australia. What's more, the factors below make it worth mentioning in Australia's grandest works of architecture:
  • The roof is made from translucent material, thus making daytime transmission from the stadium seamless.
  • With Australian weather, the natural ventilation present makes the stadium a perfect temperature. In addition, the stadium also enhances environmental-awareness by using rain water for washroom purposes.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Copyright: BoomsBeat (link)
  • Commonly referred to as the 'Coathanger' due to its design, this is Australia's (and the world's) tallest steel arch bridge, reaching its highest point at 440 feet above the harbour. 
  • Visitors who want to experience panoramic views of Sydney for a fee can take the Bridge climb for the experience of a lifetime, whether in the early morning or late at night.

Parliament House, Canberra
Copyright: Destiny Rescue (link)
  • The design of Australia's Parliament House was decided on following numerous applications from all over the world overseen by the Parliament House Construction Authority.
  • The House rises out of the Australia landscape, perhaps symbolic of true democracy. The designer of this grand structure, Romaldo Giurgola asserts that the House was not built on the hill as this would seem to impose power on the people.
  • The arms of the House extend downwards, seemingly as a welcoming gesture.
  • Notable features within this House include The House of Representatives, The Senate Area, the Ministerial Area as well as the public arena.

Anna Taylor

About the Author:
Anna is an avid reader and blogger. Since her early years she’s had a passion for writing. Her areas of interest are food, reviews (Book/Movie), Travel, Fashion, Lifestyle and fitness. She works as a guest blogger on her chosen areas of interest. Her articles where published on different blogs namely golfgurls, pricestylist and many more. She is a permanent Guest Contributor at ArchitectWeekly. Currently she works for Australian visa.
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