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Structures, Services, Facades, Sculptures

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2017, 2018, 2019Ongoing

Tetra Hotel
Structures, Services

We are undertaking a proof of concept study to enable early-stage client discussions. The solutions being investigated are founded on sustainability, renewable energy and achieving minimal environmental impact.

In association with David Ajasa-Adekunle

Structures, Facades

small., along with the support of WSP Design Studio, came up with an innovative shelter design that uses low cost, lightweight and sustainably sourced materials, namely discarded plastic bottles, bamboo and straw in a bid to tackle plastic pollution and provide emergency shelter to disaster-stricken communities in the light of the recent natural disasters.

WSP’s Design Studio put together a proof-of-concept study to take Ricky’s concept a step further. The challenges were great, housing needed to be readily portable but robust enough to protect its occupants from the elements, while being made from only bamboo and scavenged plastic bottles.

As part of the study, WSP’s Design Studio tested several insulating materials, that could be placed inside each bottle, to improve the structure’s thermal performance and discovered that straw would provide the best level of thermal comfort.

The team then proposed that these thermally efficient “bottle bricks” be mounted on a formwork of bamboo struts arranged in a triangular form to ensure optimum stability. The entire structure would then be anchored to the ground through a unique set of bottle foundations weighted down by soil and sand to provide a solid base. The resulting four-meter-high structure would be easy and quick to build, in this case less than one day.

After collecting 2,000 bottles we built our first prototype for the Clerkenwell Design Week in London in May, from the bottles, bamboo and straw. Since then the Royal Academy has selected our design for their Summer Exhibition, and we’re incredibly proud to have a model of the shelter on display there.

In association with small.

Raynham Hall Pavilion
Structures, Sculptures

This installation for Cosmic Roots Festival was intended to be an impactful and interactive piece which changed throughout the day to reflect the atmosphere of the festival.  It takes inspiration from the designer’s experience in Moscow and Russia at large, with references to some of the ad hoc temporary structures that can be seen on construction sites around the city. 

The main challenges of this project came from the specification that it had to be a temporary structure which needed to be easy to construct, deconstruct and store for reconstruction the following year; that at night the sculpture was to be lit internally and that the external appearance of the structure couldn’t differ from the original design meaning all supports and bracing had to be internal.

In association with Matthew Hearn

IG Lintels - Suburban Villa

The competition was to design a sub-urban villa that included a variety of IG steel lintels which would be

We worked with Black architects to develop a home which would have no internal columns. This was to create a home which could change easily whilst the family occupying it also did. We produced a design that was effectively two separate homes joined by a centrally walkway which meant the building could be used as: a single family, a single family home with a flat within, two separate homes or divided into six individual flats.

We provided advice on the maximum spans a two-way spanning concrete slab could achieve and how the building would gain lateral stability without having any internal load-bearing walls.

In association with Black Architecture

Marco Miehling Selfridges Installation

Design Studio provided advice to the artist Marco Miehling for a commission at Selfridges. Marco is a sculptor based in both London and Berlin and was introduced to Design Studio as a Bursary Award winner from the Royal Society of Sculptors. His work displays large visible forces and combines industrial and natural elements. Many of his pieces balance a sense of contemplation with a feeling of nervousness.

For the plinth at Selfridges Duke Street entrance, Design Studio worked closely with Marco to realise his work “A Tree Is A Big Plant With A Stick Up In The Middle”. The sculpture suspends a large trunk, taken from a diseased tree in Hyde Park, on a steel ramp. The idea behind the piece is to convert a tree trunk from an object of nature to an object of contemplation. To maximise the drama and jeopardy of the piece (whilst ensuring the safety of the public and integrity of the plinth) we used iterative design processes to optimise the trunk weight, ramp angle and rope tension. We helped develop numerous concepts and contributed at every stage of the creative process.

In association with Marco Miehling

Network Rail Footbridges of the Future

We teamed with Hawkins Brown in an open ideas competition for the future design of Network Rails footbridges across the UK. Our entry was selected has highly commended out of over 120 entries.

The Challenge was to create a flexible design concept that could apply in a huge variety of settings across the UK; from rural locations, listed stations and urban cities. Whilst maintaining this flexibility in design for the environment it was also important to base this design on a standard set of components that could easily be constructed.

This is where our ‘Kit of parts idea’ shone through our adaptable pods cantilever from the main vierendeel bridge deck structure – encouraging the bridge to become more than just a path from A-B, but also tailored for the local context (ie. A café space, a look out spot, a small library).

The basis of the structure was a dictated by the architecture as the structure was fully exposed. The stair and lift cores provides the main lateral support for the bridge while the span deflections and vibrations are minimised by a lower truss and diaphragm action in the deck.  Our structural challenge was to turn this concept into a standardised kit of parts to reduce costs and promote off-site construction; which would limit site works and disruption to network rail.

In association with Hawkins Brown

Brodsky Pavillion

We have worked with RPP, the executive architects, to provide the structural engineering solution to the design provided by Alexander Brodsky, the artist.

The complexities came from the location, being in the middle of a park, the fact that there was no deviating at all from the artist aspirations, that it had to be kept as simple as possible so that the students at the Architectural Association could construct it and that any foundation system used had to be temporary so as at the end of the installation it could all be removed without making large disturbances to the grass.

In association with Alexander Brodsky and RPP

MSA Homeless Shelter

A group of students from the MSA designed an emergency shelter module for homeless people, using only reclaimed materials (e.g. timber pallets) and drafting an assembly manual to allow people with little construction knowledge to build similar units.

We helped the group of students designing the module by providing some advice on the buildability of the pod and how to make the structure stable.

The first module (see pictures) was built in approximately a week by the group of students and presented to the community.

In association with Manchester School of Architecture