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New practice: Interrobang

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The latest in a series of practice profiles talking to those who are branching out

What and who is the new practice?
Interrobang is a trans-disciplinary architecture and engineering practice, co-founded by Andy Yates and Steve Webb, directors of Webb Yates the structural and civil engineering firm, and Maria Smith, ex-director and co-founder of Studio Weave. The team is joined by associate Matthew Dalziel, who has previously worked for Haworth Tompkins Architects and Reid Architecture.

Why have you founded this practice?
We believe that a person’s discipline and experience define the expertise they bring to a project, not the restrictive zone of ‘Architect’ or ‘Engineer’ in which they usually operate. Our trans-disciplinary approach goes beyond multi-disciplinary, working laterally to erase the red-line remits that can plague design team configurations.

How can this ‘trans-disciplinary’ approach enable both architect and engineer?
To create meaningful intervention in our built environment requires a collaborative and, critically, an adventurous attitude to problem solving. Too often architects are divested of any power to innovate in the face of impenetrable engineering imperatives, and yet at the same time, engineers are relegated to ‘making it work’. This debilitates architects, undervalues the innovation clever engineering can bring to a project, and squanders a host of potential designs. Interrobang rejects this bunk by colluding with and engaging both architects’ and engineers’ divergent thinking simultaneously, throughout every project.

What kind of work are you most interested in?
We’re especially pursuing work where engineering should be (but often isn’t) a creative driving force from a project’s inception; where complex utilitarian requirements need to be met. We want to unlock seemingly impossible sites. For example, building on top of existing buildings, reinterpreting industrial heritage and infrastructure-led regeneration. On our drawing boards and in our calculators so far are some bridges, a co-housing scheme, arts and culture studies, a pavilion for holding a ritual, and a log cabin on lunar lander legs.

What are your ambitions for the practice?
Interrobang has the capacity and expertise of a safe pair of hands, with the nimble imagination of a hot young design studio. We aim to bring together a creative narrative design process, intelligent engineering, and innovative information modelling to realise projects for public, private and commercial clients across arts, culture, housing, offices, health, public realm and infrastructure.

We believe in brave gestures, plucky underdogs and old heroes from deep history. We have an alchemical approach to materials, revelling in their delicious properties and potentials. We strive for exuberant mathematical beauty, glorious solutions to difficult questions, and a grand adventure for all involved.





The original demonstration of the stability of the cantilever, with Benjamin Baker’s workforce

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