27 Mar 2014

SPUD Longlisting + future collaboration

Entering the SPUD competition came about over many'a lunch breaks spent in Subway talking about design and architecture.. for me what has been most reassuring about the whole process is that we actually managed to walk the walk following all the talk.

Architecture in commercial practice is becoming stale, mundane and boring. All this while smaller, design-led, passionate practices develop new business models, new ways of generating work and new ways promoting themselves.. Paul and I sat down with Mark and Ricky of SPUD and got the low-down on how their organisation is growing and gaining momentum everyday, and it was so great to hear them talk so enthusiastically about the industry and the opportunities that are out there if we look hard enough.

The trip came about, as you know, following our design entry for the SPUD competition. Having not made the short-list Mark very kindly passed on some of the judges feedback about our design but we were keen to delve a little deeper! 

Render of the proposed observatory 
The design concept always revolved around this idea of a denial plane, removing views so that they are enhanced when given back... We created this using the vertical posts and through their increased density the consumers sight is removed. The posts eventually merge to create the actual enclosed space. Each post demands space in the landscape encouraging macro observation but the closer they become, the more the visitor views the micro aspects of the site. Once inside the building the visitor experiences a sheltered atmosphere away from the sun, wind and rain and is invited to observe the artist’s products and process.

Inside the intervention a counterpoint to the surrounding landscape is created through removing light from the tower and creating a pinhole camera obscura. This camera obscura projects the light and atmosphere of the artist’s studio above onto a translucent screen below giving a real-time view of the artist at work.

The mirrors work to project a real-time view of the artist at work to visitors

The artist working on the floor above cannot see the people below but can hear visitor’s comments through floor vents. A picnic style work approach is encouraged with a large open space studio floor with outward viewing windows flush to the floor. The artist has the option to use a work table with a horizontal window at eye level and a view of both the sky and topography below using mirrors in the tower.

The 'picnic' style work space for the artist with carefully positioned light interventions
Upon departure from the building the visitor’s eyes takes time adjust from the dark sheltered interior to the bright external exposure. Once in focus the user observes the landscape at a macro level contrasting the internal atmospheres of the building.

I will reveal more on the technical proposals for the project and that invaluable feedback from Mark at SPUD another day, please feel free to leave comments...

10 Mar 2014

Space, Placemaking and Urban Design (SPUD) Competition

We made it!

A fantastic effort all round; Paul Colfer, Artist Casey Williams and myself not only managed to put together a competition entry for the SPUD  but on April 3rd we were published on the long list for the competition! 

We emerged through as one of the 20 teams to be long listed for the exhibition at Winchester Guild Hall where the projects were reviewed by a panel of 7. The judges included some high profile names such as Will Alsop and Bill Woodrow as well as five other distinguished professionals. The project was also mentioned on bdonline and the competition website that can be viewed in the links below:



The brief was an exciting one that asked its competitors to design a structure that would provide shelter for a number of artists to work in in-turns over a period of two years. The structure will move location up to 3 times  so needed to be demountable, easily moved on a lorry and potentially re-configurable to suit the needs and geography of the new site.

The nature of the competition required professionals within the design field to collaborate with an artist.; we worked  with Casey Williams, my little brother, whom has a BA Fine Art degree from University of the Arts London: Chelsea.

With our team of three in place the design process began with an exploration of the meaning of observation and in what ways it could be questioned through architecture. A denial plane that actually obstructs sections of a view was the outcome of a collaborative brainstorming session on how to increase the effects of observation with the following statement forming the concept for our design:

“The beauty of landscape and topography is somewhat elusive to those whom use it often and in a transient manner. Studio Obscura uses the power of denial to remove and distort views so as to render scenes beautiful that have since become ordinary through frequent use”

Over the next week or so I will post about the competition entry in more detail but for now I leave you with the two A2 boards submitted...

13 Jan 2014

The Observatory - a project by SPUD.

It has been on our agenda for a while now but finally myself and Paul Colfer (http://colfer-architecture.blogspot.co.uk/) have finally got round to registering for a competition. The competition in question is..


Its an absolute cracker. It also provides me with the opportunity of collaborating with my little brother, Casey Williams, who is a graduate from Chelsea College of Art with a BA in Fine Art.

We have set out a tight programme of works for the next 7 weeks ahead of the submission on the 28th Febraury so keep your eyes peeled. We won't, unfortunately, be posting too much before this date due to the nature of the topic however will post up what we can along the way and come the 28th Feb we will get it all online!

I think competitions like these are a brilliant way of keeping your design flair alive outside of the restrictions imposed upon us as designers in the industry we are in. I experience it first hand almost everyday, the danger of not partaking in this sort of activity and the effects it can have on architects prone to becoming stagnant in industry and willing to let clients and regulation dictate them.

I am excited already just thinking of what the outcome of this project could possibly be.. Stay tuned.