Case studies of Ford House by Simon Winstanley Architects, 40-48 Fashion Street by Buckley Gray Yeoman Architecture and Flowing Gardens International Horticultural Expo 2011 by Plasma Studio with Groundlab and Laur Studio
Editorial - Felix Mara
This month’s theme, cladding and curtain walling, is in some ways a difficult topic, not because it is difficult to understand, but because of the contradictions that surround it. On the one hand, architects are often criticised for paying too much attention to the surface appearance of buildings. On the other, they face attacks, especially from passionate conservationists, for not taking responsibility for beautifying the environment. Also, many architects regard themselves as cladding experts, but cladding and curtain walling works are usually let as contractor design packages, with ultimate responsibility in the hands of the cladding sub-contractor.
Arguably, cladding is more fun on small jobs, where architects can design straightforward building envelopes without project managers breathing down their necks. Simon Winstanley Architects’ Ford House in Castle Douglas, our main case study, is a good example: a zinc-clad, low-energy development in an idyllic setting. ‘Every window, a picture,’ was the verdict of Ståle Eriksen, who visited to shoot the still life on page 33. Our next case study, Buckley Gray Yeoman’s 40-48 Fashion Street office development, is more of a city slicker, with COR-TEN cladding and flush curtain walling. Finally, Plasma Studios’ buildings for the 2011 International Horticultural Expo in Xi’an City, China, designed in collaboration with with Groundlab, Laur Studio and, of course, the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, is a vast, rather wonderful project.
Ford House, Castle Douglas by Simon Winstanley Architects
This house for two artists replaces an existing traditional farmhouse with a very low energy building clad in black zinc sheeting.
The house comprises three distinct elements consisting of the main living accommodation, a studio/guest wing, and garage. These divide the site into two; a public side with drive entrance and outbuilding, and a private side with a south-facing garden. The use of black cladding is designed to echo the sheet metal-clad agricultural barns nearby and to be visually recessive. Some windows and doors are picked out in strong yellow to contrast with the black zinc. As a complete contrast to the exterior, the interior is light and open to provide a neutral background for the clients’ art collection.
The house is super-insulated and is heated using a geothermal heat pump, solar panels and a whole-house heat recovery ventilation system.
Simon Winstanley, principal, Simon Winstanley Architects
40-48 Fashion Street, London by Buckley Gray Yeoman Architecture
The approach at Fashion Street was one of preservation rather than restoration, setting out to create interaction between the old and the new. A new 3,084m² office building has been created on the site behind the existing Grade II-listed section of the old Moorish Market. The two buildings have been separated with an internal street, which is bridged at the upper levels where the two lift cores have been separated from the main structure.
The building is wrapped in COR-TEN, providing depth and layering to the facade. This material makes a connection with the Victorian building, and the rich urban industrial character of the area. The wrap is made up of openable louvres that provide solar shading and animate the facade. The development has enhanced Fashion Street as a destination and a major pedestrian route between the City and Brick Lane.
Laura O’Hagan, associate, Buckley Gray Yeoman Architecture
Flowing Gardens International Horticultural Expo 2011, Xi’an City, China by Plasma Studio with Groundlab and Laur Studio
The International Horticultural Expo 2011 has become the instigator and hub for the redevelopment of a large area between the airport and the centre of the ancient city of Xi’an. Plasma Studio, in collaboration with GroundLab and local landscape practice LAUR Studio, proposed a radical self-sustainable vision for the future, entitled ‘Flowing Gardens’. This combined water, planting, circulation and architecture in one system and comprised the Creativity Pavilion, the Greenhouse and the Guangyun entrance land bridge, all within the expo’s landscape setting. The expo closed in November 2011 but the public park will be maintained as its legacy.
The three buildings, located at the intersections of the pathways, were designed as articulated nodes on the landscape. The Guangyun entrance bridges the main road that dissects the site, channelling visitors from the entrance plaza. Its three lanes read as interweaving braids and, together with a surrounding trellis roof structure, resemble bands of landscape peeling off before rejoining at the end of the journey. The open trellis steel structure forms a shading device that will become naturally overgrown with climbing plants. The lightweight roof, developed with structural engineer Arup, appears to float freely in space.
The Creativity Pavilion interweaves with the ground and is organised as three parallel volumes that cantilever over the lake, reading as an extension of the ground, with concrete floors and bronze interior walls.
The Greenhouse is conceived as a crystal, semi-submerged in the lake, which merges with the hillside to a greater extent than the other two structures. It has a horseshoe plan, creating a loop with a section that can be adapted to accommodate a sequence of different planting and spatial conditions. As the ground, inside and out, gradually changes, the visitor experiences sequences of visual enclosure, alternating with long vistas.
Marta Postigo, architect, Plasma Studio