Millwall Park Viaduct
EBBA have been working on a series of community led projects across East London, looking for opportunities to open up locked infrastructures with the view to connect the new Great Eastern Parks Route.
The primary purpose of the initiative has been to explore the potential of connecting green spaces, starting from Shoreditch High Street through to Canary Wharf and beyond. The aim is to improve access to parks and create green routes across the city, by reimagining forgotten spaces through landscaping and re-wilding strategies that can help support local community groups and schools, improve transport and commuting, as well as create jobs for locals in the area by unlocking new business opportunities.
An initial feasibility has been explored to repurpose the Millwall Park Viaduct, in order to create a meadow that can accommodate a new raised park and a locally-supported Bee Keeping School. The project will consider ways to activate this area and provide opportunities for education and training, including a multi-functional space that can be used by the wider community. EBBA are also in the initial stages of discussing plans for a biodiversity park in Limehouse.
Link to report
The project is in partnership with the East London Garden Society and the Countryside Charity London (CPRE).
Factory for Living
We have recently started works on the refurbishment of a project in a historic warehouse conversion, previously used as a match factory. Making use of the tall ceilings, a new stair props up a mezzanine entirely in timber like a large piece of furniture. The new floor area provides a gallery-like living space that can be rearranged using screens and curtains. Project due for completion in summer 2020.
Construction Skills School
EBBA have been working with the London Legacy Development Corporation on an exciting project to deliver a centre for construction skills learning. In collaboration with CITB and TFL, the construction school will provide the opportunity for people to be sponsored through practical education and training. The facade is aimed to speak of the activities inside the school, as an exploration of assembly which will eventually be disassembled and used in other areas around the Olympic Park.
Housing around a Courtyard
EBBA are working on a multi-unit housing scheme in East London. The project is based on four blocks shifted and rotated around a central courtyard, providing 6 new dwellings on a prominent corner site. The overall massing helps to achieve a carefully considered arrangement to ensure double and triple aspects with new views across and between the blocks.
The materiality and form is intended to be robust and aims to speak to the primary typology of housing in the area, dominated by a suburban character of masonry construction and steep roofs. The sculpted shapes and opposing angles of each block help to create a rich ensemble of buildings that frame the junction of two streets.
Architectural Futures Exhibition
'Architectural Futures' exhibition completed at the Royal Academy of Arts designed by EBBA to showcase the Royal Academy Dorfman Award, celebrating the achievements of an emerging architect, practice or collective who is reimagining the future of architecture. We’ve worked with curator Gonzalo Herreroand graphic designers Daly Lyon on the project to help display the four practices in an engaging and elegant way, tied together by a clean and earthy material palette showcased on a very large table filling the room of the Architecture Studio. Photo by Agnese Sanvito Courtesy of the Royal Academy of Arts, London
Artist Studio & Archive
The conversion of an outbuilding for Flat Time House forms part of a phased approach for the future of the gallery. EBBA have developed proposals for the small yet ambitious gallery in South London, taking inspiration from the works of the founder John Latham. As part for the first phase, EBBA have created a new artist studio and archive for the gallery's growing research and events programme.
These proposals look to resolve some issues with the use of the spaces on the ground floor, by creating better connections to the existing gallery, establishing a new research centre with a store for the large collection of artworks. The future works will consider how to connect the outbuilding with the house through a landscaping proposal. The project is conceived as a series of abstracted and sympathetic revisions that will allow the users to interact with the gallery in a new way.
The spirit of the new spaces take cues from the existing house and the works of John Latham, seeing the interventions as “attachments” that respect the existing conditions of the gallery. Understanding the house as a number of events and accumulations, the new elements are conceived to be read as such. These small projects are an add-on that speak of the materiality of layers, building on the importance of the house as an artwork. Reuse of the demolished interior structures become new workbenches for the artist studio and rubble from previous alterations are ground into aggregate for bespoke concrete fixtures. The history of the mezzanine is retained as an imprint in the floor where the legs used to sit.
Edouard Malingue, London
We are collaborating with Edouard Malingue gallery from Hong Kong to provide them with a temporary location in London, conceived as a transformative space that will allow three shows and a series of public events. Set in a Grade 1 listed building in Islington, home to the St. Saviour’s Studios, this new project space aims to “create an open dialogue between geographies, mediums and instil a sense of curiosity.” The first of the sequence of projects was a piece called ‘Listen’, a performative installation by conceptual artist Wang Wei. EBBA later supported the design of the group show, curated by Jennifer Ellis and Helen Pheby of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Our recent investigation into the restoration and expansion of an ambitious gallery in Vauxhall has developed a series of sensitive yet radical solutions that look to expand the programming for a growing exhibition schedule and the continued community engagement initiatives. Working with the rich history of the building and its character, the interventions are intended as simple changes that complement and work sympathetically with the whole.
The project hopes to provide a large extension to the roof with a new connecting stair tower, allowing an accessible route to the upper levels while creating a new figure and beacon to the city. Details including the meaning stair within the large gallery space are made in a vocabulary of thin cast iron metalwork to accentuate these fragments against the existing building, to be clearly read as something new.
EBBA have designed a small photographer's studio, nestled in a wooded garden. The building offers a tall gallery-like space that serves for both studio and domestic activities. The interior is defined by the construction of the building, connected with large openings to the surroundings. It's main elevation is clad in timber and ceramic tiles that have a rough texture like the bark of the trees on the site.
Public Realm, Plaza Santa Ana
The project starts with the act of placing a column in a space to help rationalise and give a new order to the square, as a way of acknowledging the qualities while trying to transform the use of the public realm. This project is a continuation of EBBA’s fascination in the ideas and use of rudimentary architectural elements and our interest in creating simple yet purposeful interventions that explore proportion, form and public space.
The city of Logroño, known for its historic buildings and reputable churches, is part of the trail on the ‘Camino de Santiago’, a pilgrimage route leading from the French border across the north of Spain. A city made up of streets and patios helps to create a sense of urban rooms at different scales, all lined with colonnades that are carried by columns which both define and provide unique edge conditions. This intervention takes the idea of the column as a device, and the understanding of it being integral to the way the spaces in this city are formed, as a starting point.
Responding to quite a complicated site this project gives the square a new order through a very simple intervention. The placement of a single column can help to demarcate and create an enclosure, as well as anchor and make new space around it. This project proposed to transform the square by adding columns by way of offering new configurations that could be re-arranged. The project suggests a playful way of activating the space that could allow the various local festivities to happen within the sea of columns. As a simple gesture, the columns were designed to be reorganised, to create new rooms within this urban room, while at night they transformed into light beacons to give the square a new life and a totally different experience in the city.
An investigation into new housing typologies has resulted in a series of three main house types, offering volumous, adaptable and well connected living spaces, each prioritising alternative ways for planning and maximising the use of the home. As a blueprint for new developments the three typologies can support a diverse range of semi detached and terraced housing types. To promote flexible living ideas and accessibility, bedrooms are located at ground level, which allows upper levels to be reconfigurable while making better connections between the primary living spaces - kitchen/living room/dining - as well as prioritising views out to the landscape.
Taking reference from the local surroundings, the visual language for the proposed master plan is one of a series of solid structures with carefully placed strips of housing of varying heights that relate to the existing grain of the site. The radial array mimics the lines of the houses opposite while retaining viewing corridors through the site to the landscape beyond. The crescent defines the positions of the larger semi detached units and how they hold the edge of the site and the street, presenting a character of pairs of bays, similar to those found in the buildings in the area.
Materially, the houses speak to the local masonry construction traditions, while relating to the rich textures of the surrounding environment. A solid base in painted blockwork helps to root the buildings. Above the 3m datum - that is drawn across the site - a rough cast render in a mix of cement offers an almost sculpted appearance, which ties in to the striking hilly landscape all around the site.
Fashion Photography Exhibition
EBBA have designed a new exhibition on Fashion Photography in Hong Kong. The design of the exhibition takes the notion of fashion being in continual flux and the view that fashion photography is about establishing a narrative that can be seen as a reflection of the world. This is manifested in the spatial journey, taking cues from the genres to provide different ways to view and experience the photography.
The sculpted forms and arrangement of walls help to guide people through the space without a strictly defined route, intended to promote a sense of exploration and discovery. Framing views through to adjacent rooms help to blur the lines between the groups, setting up connections that both tie and react against the varying styles and inter-generational photographs in the show.
Allan Junca share an ambition for the artistic and sculptural potential of furniture. Together they have developed a series of works over a number of years that combine their experiences from the fields of architecture and furniture making. This collection was inspired by rudimentary structures borrowed from buildings. The repetition of the same basic components across the different pieces aims to create functional frame-like objects, analogous to the slender elements used in large scale construction.
The strong visual impact of these structures is reinforced by a mix of textures and materials such as scorched wood and white washed timber, complemented by finer details in raw steel and woven Danish cord. The collection was previewed at the London Design Festival 2018 and is due to be fully released in the 2019.
We proposed two simple inverted structures that reflected a metamorphosis in the identity of a column from something solid to a framelike form. These were used to stand as markers on the site during an event at the Old Royal Naval College and the Queen's House in Greenwich, run by the Architecture Foundation.
The three-tiered stepped assembly relates to the tapering of columns and its use in emphasising slenderness. By staggering and arraying the posts we evoke a sense of fluting, giving shallow grooves running vertically around the column shaft.
The columns will live on in their new location at Shatwell Farm, as part of the Drawing Matter collection.
Ports 1961 at CSM
Part of an on-going collaboration with Ports 1961, we developed a new catwalk concept for the huge space at Central Saint Martins. A play of wall surfaces and layered planes created a meandering entrance that would frame the view of the long hall.
An exciting new venue in the heart of south-east London, Stockton functions as a coffee shop by day and evolves into a cocktail bar at night. Designed in close collaboration with the client, Stockton is an elegant and flexible space with scope to develop over time – an example of the studio's responsive open-ended approach to making architecture.
The site's original stone flooring which we decided to retain, inspired a raw and earthy colour palette. Instead of simple painted walls, a rough plasterwork was explored to line the walls; a technique that dates back to stucco applications developed in ancient India and China. The intention was to provide surfaces with a distinct textured quality in plaster that would transform with the changing light, becoming richer as the space darkens which in turn both changes the look and feel of the space.
All the designed elements – including the furniture and shelving – are made from raw welded steel, simple enough that it could be fabricated by local metalworkers, creating an unassuming, elegant aesthetic. The terrazzo bar is complemented by the steel tables topped with white-washed plywood. Despite its bespoke furniture and fittings, Stockton is intended to serve as a blank canvas to offer architecture as a backdrop to be populated and activated by visitors who will ultimately give life to the space.
La Falda is an experimental project completed as part of a renovation to a primary school in Alicante, clad in tiles made from recycled bitumen panels. The project formed part of a larger phased masterplan for the development of the school that began in 2015.
The undulating forms were designed to reference the terracotta tiles synonymous with the region and the colour palette of southern Spain. EBBA’s concept was the design of a low-tech solution that could be easily constructed by the studio and a team of students in a matter of days. The self-build was completed on a very tight budget and has radically changed the architecture, helping to give new life to a tired building at the school.
In accordance with Spanish planning laws, the school's location on designated agricultural land means that any new buildings have to be classified as 'temporary'. The current primary school is housed in a 30-year-old prefabricated structure which has inevitably weathered over the years, and EBBA wanted to help provide a distinctive architectural identity that would transform the project and could inspire the students in the years to come.
The tectonic assembly of the tiled system involves a series of bespoke aluminium brackets fixed to the existing building. Timber battens support each of the Onduline panels, installed using simple fixings.
EBBA developed the project through rigorous material investigations as well as the testing of paints and different colour variations to help achieve an effect that feels almost crafted. The choice to use the corrugated sheets came from the economy of means and the resources available, yet the versatility and malleability of the material offered an opportunity to create tiled-sized panels that could cover a large area of the façade. The project was a search for new methods of using the material – which is often used to clad warehouses and farm buildings - in an inventive and beautiful way.
The result is a patchwork of tiles in different shades of red that have a richly textured surface. The subtle tonal variations of the façade give the building its dress-like quality. The resulting visual appearance makes for a strong image against the blue skies while the stark shadows cast across the building transform the architecture throughout the day.
An invitation by Edouard Malingue Gallery and Hannah Barry to support the development of an artwork by Joao Vasco Paiva for the summer programme at Bold Tendencies led to the construction of a large site-specific structure made from cob. The concept for the project was to make a structure from traditional clay blocks and mortar, similar to the archaic houses found in southern Europe.
EBBA designed and managed the installation including early material investigations into clay structures as well as instructing the finishing on site. The project produced an architecture that is at once familiar yet completely alien to the site on top of the carpark in Peckham. The interior of the installation reflects the changing qualities of the daily cycle and offers an almost monastic experience away from the windy world outside. The textures and material tests were developed in conjunction with the artist, while the use of the blocks was influenced by its ability to be stacked as well as the reference of building in London where the brick format is so prevalent.
Installation completed with artist, Joao Vasco Paiva, in collaboration with Bold Tendencies and Edouard Malingue Gallery. For further details of the project and the artists decription please check the press release. A special thanks goes to the incredible team that made this happen.
Fashion Discovery Exhibition
EBBA were invited to design an exhibition for Fashion Discovery, a showcase of the most exciting emerging talent from the fashion programme. Situated within a tight repurposed Victorian shop, the design aimed to provide different ways of engaging and viewing the selected garments. The delicate frameworks were placed to offer a sequence of room-like spaces, inspired by the Japanese "Shōji" screen that helped to mark the space and define the route between them.
The Environment as Teacher
From a very early age children develop through various interactions. Firstly, with their parents and teachers, then with relationships and connections to others, and finally with the environment around them. How then, does the contemporary urban realm and the buildings around us affect the way [young] people develop and understand space? On the one hand, architecture has over time created a picture of itself as having a lack of social relevance and a disassociated connection to the everyday users of the built world. Similarly, the value of good design is not an aspect of the environment that we generally teach and society has given up believing that architecture is relevant for sustainable and healthy living. What if this was something that we could address by supporting alternative ways of seeing and reading space? Could we not re-educate and celebrate the value of experiences that we once took for granted at a very early age?
Building spaces for early years learners is vital for empowering individuals with an environment to be and feel creative with direct links to a happier and healthier life. The notion of the ‘environment as the third teacher’ has enabled new understandings of how space can influence the experience of learning and social empowerment. This project aims to promote the point that architecture & design matters to a healthier and more productive life, and wants to encourage awareness for the environment around us by questioning the role of design as a social and educational tool.
Research through the work of our practice into the design of a large extension to a nursery has raised concerns over the standard of existing learning environments for young people. Through case study analysis and engagement with clients we have been able to develop spatial ideas through small interventions and architectural moments that show opportunities for new models. Significant in the design of these spaces is to ensure they allow for self-initiated investigation, discovery, problem solving and meaning making.
The Project “The Environment as Teacher” aims to present the notion of space as a cultivator of knowledge and wellbeing. As a primary form of enquiry this project hopes to engage with users of all ages at a theoretical and emotional level, to explore how spaces affect learning and health.
Empowerment in learning environments is key to early years experimentation and development. Places that provide “space” to be inquisitive and that provide opportunities for chance and change are critical for a sense of discovery. The opportunity to explore and promote better designed buildings and spaces is more important now than ever due to contemporary issues such as the rise in use of technology and the effects of staying inside for prolonged hours. Coupled with this is the lack of funding and attitude in the design and construction of schools/nurseries suitable for enhanced learning and productivity. Equally, the reality of costs associated with childcare and access to services is an issue that is only increasing and results in many children being marginalised from potentially improved schooling.
At a more social and thought-provoking level, belief in the power of well-designed environments to inspire creativity and learning must be addressed. Designing buildings and spaces for young people is a social responsibility for architects, designers and policy makers, yet making wider society conscious of the effects of design in relation to learning environments can raise awareness and the quality of these spaces for generations to come. By promoting alternative interpretations of the way we understand space and the capacity to interact with the built environment in new ways, we can impact the life of young people in positive ways. The relationship between workplace environments and Dementia care centres has only recently made big steps towards influencing the design of the environment; and yet they are still far from reaching the quality of standard provided by countries such as the Netherlands. The same is true for spaces for young people.
There has been major advancements in the study of learning environments for early years teaching, with significant aspects related to the spaces they use. As children spend a large part of their growing lives in them it must be of paramount importance to offer the right spaces that can encourage encounters, communication and new relationships. The design of these spaces, with a certain order and organization that gives purpose to each aspect of a room enables interaction and gives a sense of identity to both children and adults. The theory behind space as the third teach is an approach documented in ‘How Does Learning Happen’, Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years and founded on the Reggio-inspired ethos. This is based on social constructivist teaching, a form of open-ended learning that is as much about the relationships with others as the physical space through which children can actively developed their experiences. Much has been written about the use of “Loose Parts” to allow creativity and making to occur in early years learning. However, this can be scaled up to physical parts of buildings and spaces that promote play and learning.
In the ongoing research of the practice we are interested in the exploration of architecture as an experienced reality and the way the environment around us can have a direct impact on the way we feel. Never is this truer than at both extremes, through spaces designed for the young and those for the elderly. This project aims to add to the study of the impact of the environment on health and wellbeing through research based results and first hand investigations carried out during the exhibition.
Horizon at Tate Modern
We were asked to collaborate again with the fashion designer Ports 1961 at London Fashion Week in February 2018 for a AW18 show at Tate Modern, London. Designed around the raw spaces of the Tanks, the proposal emphasised the clean raw image of the interior of the cavernous space.
As a simple yet powerful intervention, the proposed lighting installations were a reaction to the qualities of the site and the attempt to generate an atmosphere of sunrise. The project, 'Horizon', sought to introduce the evocative glow of early morning light, realised by the introduction of large spherical lights that helped to create drama and frame the large concrete volume. The lighting was designed to interact with the increase in number of visitors, getting brighter as the space was occupied as an awakening daylight.
This modest single storey building, built in the 1870s as part of the largest children’s hospital in Manchester, was occupied by a children’s nursery when the site was sold and developed to allow for 300 homes. The only two remaining historic buildings left being the main hospital and this lodge, which was primarily used as a gate house. Over the years the small masonry structure has been extended without much regard for its architectural qualities or the integrity of its form.
Due to the success of the nursery, as well as the wider issues generally regarding care, the client decided to extend and remodel. EBBA were commissioned after an invited competitive process to add a significant extension to provide much needed space for teaching and the staff.
Dealing with an existing building and the challenges of its previous transformations set the limitations and its opportunities. The original architecture is humble and unpretentious, apart from two of its sides that have tried to present a mature elevation onto the street. Both have projecting bays with modestly decorated stone lintels and arched windows in brick that give it its character. The form of the new massing is a playful attempt at tying the project to the character of the site, one dominated by the detached houses and steep pitched roofs, while also wanting to create a tent-like form that the children could relate to. The shape of the plan is defined by the perimeter of the building, while in places it steps back to respect the prominence of the window bays of the existing structure.
The extension is a contemporary addition that complements the whole while tying it in to the surrounding context. The strong banding created by the different staining processes on the cladding help to give a soft appearance and makes reference to the darker brick detailing around the existing building. The ambition for the architecture was to try to express an understanding of modern buildings being made of layers, clearly defining linings and pealing away planes to reveal the inner construction. Likewise, details around windows and flashings help to create the appearance of an easily understandable construction system.
Spatially the plan offers a new large teaching space for early years learners, staggered as three rooms within a room, each one incrementally getting larger. The tall ceilings rise with the pitch of the roof to create an airy, uplifting learning environment. Large, low windows allow views out for the children, and big niches offer spaces to climb into and play.
EBBA designed a concept retail space for a temporary presentation, showcasing an upcoming collection for a fashion brand. Created from demountable frames, plinths and screens to hold the garments, these elements acted as framing devices while at the same time helping to demarcate the space.
As a studio we are conscious of the need to create functional and unique spaces through simple design while thinking about the re-use of materials and sustainability. In this project we worked with off-the-shelf products and hired equipment to build a room of objects that when placed in uniformity provide a rhythm and the impression of an elevated spatial experience. We see this like the use and celebration of the ubiquitous breeze block in Carl Andre's work, such as Cascade.
EBBA was invited to develop the creative direction and design for a special Hypebeast showcase. A transmission between three cities; Paris, Berlin and London, each projecting images of the separate events into the space on various banks of screens and monitors. The architectural interventions and lighting were designed from simple found objects including scaffolding and industrial palettes to create a central forum to offer the sense of gathering. The production of the skeletal frames was built up to support light installations that helped to delineat the space and focus the performances during the event.
Sevenoaks Visitor Centre
Sat within a densely wooded area, EBBA designed a low lying building with three distinct pitched roof structures that spoke to the differing conditions of the site, clad in reclaimed timber from railway sleepers that would allow the new building to blend in with the woodland. Designed as an 'Open Landscape', the plan was arranged as a series of slices, allowing views through to the wider reserve. An internal courtyard wrapped by the main gallery would bring nature and wildlife inside the building.
Inspired by the beautiful setting of the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, the 'Open Landscape' would offer new horizontal connections to both faces of the site. The centre would be first and foremost a place for learning and discovery; a revolutionary hub that could foster greater relationships with nature through physical interactions. The 'permeable' quality of the building provided a framework to engage with the natural surroundings through a careful arrangement of spaces.
The building was developed as a 'porous' device that would extend both outwards and upwards offering moments of calmness to draw wildlife in. The clear horizontal breaks in the plan offered framed views through to the reserve beyond, with many opportunities to connect to various aspects of the wildlife at a personal level. Never too far from contact with flora, the Main Gallery wrapped an internal courtyard providing unique ways of engaging with nature. The vision for the project took influence from the surroundings and the local vernacular; with the low-lying horizontality of the building and three independent roof-forms used to breakup the mass, making the building meld into its site.
The simplified pitched roof structures in dark weathered wood would harness the building a proud yet modest appearance as a way of recognising the significance of this important landscape. The building would sit elegantly and integrated into the site, providing a powerful image from the various vantage-points on the reserve.
EBBA designed a series of shelters to provide places for respite and way-finding information along a route of Wester Ross in the Highlands of Scotland. The structures were designed to embody a language that references the history and unique geological characteristics of the area.
We developed a concept space for an independent bookshop in Valencia. The shelving was designed to be made entirely from recycled plastic in a colour to match the red wine synonimous with the region. Large steel tables would be left raw, made by the client’s father who fabricates the ironwork used for railings and decoration in the local area.
Surface: House in Kamiwada
The early projects of Toyo Ito were explorations in surface and form. A sort of abstraction both spatially and functionally from the programmed requirements of the home. Each house designed as a singular inhabitable space.
The plans proposed a strong idea for a primary living area with very little reference to any function, particularly that of inhabitation. Secondary spaces were concealed within recesses and behind screens. Yet the arrangement of the walls and treatment of the surfaces acted as devices for ways of interacting and manoeuvring within the space. At the same time the un-programmed quality of this zone allowed for a freedom of use and offered unique spatial moments that questioned new ways of living.
The House at Kamiwada built in 1970s, one of the best examples of his use of surfaces and walls, was constructed around a central core that snaked through the space. Pockets of rooms fitted into each of the corners providing ancillary “programmed” spaces.
The single curving wall in this project suggests ways of moving through and engaging with the interior. Its delicacy in form and generosity gives this room an anticipated hierarchy that supports the importance of the central space. Although though the house lacks direct views to the world outside, the arrangement of walls and positioning of openings for bringing light into the room provides a strong connection while giving the interior an almost monastic quality. The sense of transition between the inside and outside is heightened by the play of light projecting on to the curved surface. While many of his houses were about exploring a single idea for a primary space, they provided a multitude of experiences and readings due to the qualities generated from the composition of each of the surfaces and walls.
In a similar manner, the walls designed for a fashion show in London took queues from the notion of using surfaces as a way of generating a sense of movement and hierarchy within the space. These walls acted as a device for both the models and those engaging with the event to direct and focus the performance. The decision to introduce the curved surface gave the space a raw yet seamless quality, and the light falling onto the walls suggested movement and a notion of transition. This play formed by a simple placement of walls further encouraged the free flow of the performance.
We completed a unique spatial environment for the Ports 1961 SS18 show using simple curved walls. These walls became devices for suggesting movement and to provide a central focus within the space; a direct reference to the houses of Toyo Ito in Japan where walls are used not to demarcate space but to influence processes and rituals. In a similar manner, the walls were introduced as a way of generating a sense of flow and use.
The walls acted as experiential nodes during the show, directing the models and engaging the guests with the performance. The walls were constructed from simple, cheap plasterboard panels, steamed and scored to create the elegant curved edges that would reflect light off the resin floors. The simple placement of these curved surfaces was an investigation into the relationship of performance and space.
The studio worked with a brilliant fabricator who helped to develop the intricate details and method of manufacture to ensure seamless joints across all walls throughout the space.
Notre Dame du Haut
Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp by Le Corbusier
The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, or Ronchamp as its more commonly known, is a masterpiece that celebrates Le Corbusier’s more poetic yet lesser-recognised architectural tropes. Completed in 1955, the project sought to move away from the ornamental references in monastic architecture and to draw symbolic references through form and light. As opposed to his earlier work, Le Corbusier brought ideas of a functional and mechanistic approach to realise something more sculptural and expressive that was specific to its site and explored the possibility and understanding of different material properties.
As if rising from the hill, the chapel makes for a powerful image on approach. The weightless roof appears as if it is hovering delicately above the chapel’s walls. It’s curled edges making aspiring gestures. Three large tapered intrusions provide the walls for the enclosed space, curved so as to resonate sound and amplify prayer during ceremony. The tall tower-like elements bring light down into three chapels and make use of the changing daily lighting conditions, emphasised by the colour of the walls in a blue and red to represent the process of birth and death. This understanding and desire for introducing religious meaning is further explored in the small openings that pierce the heavy walls. Each window decorated with allusions of bodily and spiritual associations.
Furthermore, a key aspect that was consistent in many of Le Corbusier’s buildings was a consideration for proportion, materiality and the scale of the body. Here we see an array of slits and openings, that might seem to mimic other European archetypes, some proportioned to the height of a man while others intended to be entered or viewed through.
When presented with the site on a hilltop in Ronchamp, with a strong pastoral and farming heritage, Le Corbusier felt the need to draw their influence into the fabric of the chapel. The textured board-marks of the concrete roof and rough textures of the structure speak of a more local tradition. The buildings of Le Corbusier always celebrated material development and their production, which resulted in an aesthetic that concerned itself with driving social and economical development emblazoned with meaning.
Dealing with a restricted and unlevelled site, EBBA developed a proposal to provide a new purpose built residential unit on an end of terrace cottage site in Lancashire. The massing was informed by a rigorous design process and in-depth study of the existing plot, which included three changes in level and the limitations of working on greenbelt land.
The brief asked for a design that was simple yet could offer better connections to the gardens with a more open and accessible internal configuration. A generous sitting room with adjacent dining area and the kitchen make for a spacious ground floor while upstairs offers an ironing room, a large bedroom with views across the countryside and the ensuite, which altogether fits an airy and inviting home for the elderly owner. The layout is designed to allow for easy mobility and has been future-proofed to allow the installation of a lift should it be required.
The form itself was a take on the old Lancashire cottage typology. The massing takes the traditional form, shifted and setback, forming an edge to line up with the plot on which the existing garage sits. The elevation is restrained on the street side while larger north facing openings and side windows create connections to the garden and the landscaped courtyard at the side. The side garden becomes a topography of steps, swirles and flower patches, an oasis between two gables ends of terraced houses where the client can carry out her daily rituals as a keen gardener.
Essay: The Red Wall
The Red Wall: A building to be acted upon
Returning home is never quite complete without a call on Ricardo Bofill’s fascinating example of 1960s housing known as “La Muralla Roja”. With the Catalan’s most remarkable work – translated as the red wall due to it’s distinctive wall-like characteristics and colours - less than 5 miles from where I grew up, the temptation is too great not to visit each time I return to my hometown. It is a total coincidence that after moving away at a young age, and having spent various periods in different cities around the world to finally settle in London following many years in training as an architect, I am drawn back to explore a building only a stone’s throw from where I was brought up. Over a period of 7 to 8 years I have attempted to document, in a very informal way, the nuances and quirks of an edifice so familiar yet so uncharted. With so many moments to be discovered this is undoubtedly one of my favourite built examples representing an architecture for social action; and a building that became a classic even before it was modern.
The 50-unit complex stands for so much more than the beauty of its concrete construction. While the aspirations of Bofill to create a place to counter the banal is well known, one really has to experience the qualities of such a place to feel the power of its organisation buried in its labyrinthine form. The building appears like a re-making of the world, as an extension of the ground from which the building sits on; inspired by Bofill’s own Baroque ideals and the settlements of Arab and Mediterranean cities associated with the past and culture found in North Africa and the South of Spain.
The fortress-like structure is split into blocks in a cross formation, with flats and studios of various sizes arranged carefully around individual circulation cores to provide a sense of private entry into each unit. Contrasting with this, areas widen and open out at many levels across the roof and ground floor to provide opportunities for communal activities while still offering sheltered intimate spaces for indefinite actions and situations.
As an extension of the domestic space, arranged elegantly over different floors with plenty of opportunity for chance to occur, the building is a generator for both social and independent action. Generous space, freedom to explore, the choice to move freely: it is a characteristic of contemporary housing – and even that within our cities - that has been removed over concerns for a space economy and lack of marketability for areas associated with shared space. Yet here we witness a conglomeration of unique moments and living conditions on what is essentially a condensed and difficult site, with potential to be repeated elsewhere.
Photoessay: A Concrete Obsession, La Muralla Roja
Location: Calpe, ESP
Jesus College, Cambridge
While at Niall McLaughlin Architects, Benni was privileged to work on a range of projects including the renovation of West Court, a Grade II listed building for Jesus College in Cambridge. The project was successful in achieving a building that is both grounded in its place while offering a renewed image of the College onto the city. Benni worked on the scheme from concept stage, supporting the project through planning and across two of its main build stages. He gained experience of working with listed buildings, executing internal and external packages during the renovation of the original building.
In addition, Benni was involved in the design of the new entrance tower on Jesus Lane and supported the design of the facade of its adjacent building with a rhythmic timber insert of bays between existing brick piers. A new 180-seater auditorium was inserted within the extensively remodelled structure as a golden timber-lined box, designed to support the College's repute as a centre for research. Above, a suite of long and short-term accommodation completes the court with different treatments that respond to a private condition and the opposite urban streetscape.
Project realised by Niall McLaughlin Architects.
Conformity in the way we live in cities has long been accepted and driven by the marketisation of land values and space standards. But what do we actually require to live comfortably and affordably while still having a choice about how we reside? The mere act of reducing ones options/activities is a force that many wish to destabilise, yet the solution is yet to be found.
The Tower Hamlet proposes to question both micro and communal living to suggest new ways of coexisting in cities that breaks conventions, addressing the issue of rising rents vs lack of quality affordable homes. At the same time this monument aims to celebrate the history of the area, taking reference from the make-up of Regents Canal and its early glory days as the destination of wealthy Tudor aristocrats and the monarchy.
Its stepped timber structure - lined in recycled rubber panels - and rational plan, offers new and various opportunities for configuring spaces both in groups (x4) or as a singular dwelling. Like the tectonic forms of towers and Tudor buildings, the structure harnesses a humble and cathedral-like character, tying together a prefabricated construction assembly technique while responding to the surrounding cultural landscape.
A bespoke assembly of steel units were designed to provide a new way of displaying the up-coming clothing line for fashion brand at LFWM in 2017. The framework was intended to mimic the steel pipework and conduit wrapping around the industrial spaces. The decision to create a wall-like element was chosen to enable numerous ways of both viewing and displaying the garments, while the flexibility of the construction would allow various configurations to be made once it was transported to a new location.
Topman Design "Transition"
EBBA was invited to design the Presentation & Show Space for Topman Design SS18, to provide the setting for a static exhibition and display of the new collection. Using the character of the post-industrial spaces of the Old Truman Brewery, as well as elements of the new line, the design uses a raw stripped backed material palette to create a backdrop for the models. Lighting is used to enhance the viewing experience while providing an atmosphere associated with London club scenes of the past.
The presentation stage was developed as a series of raised tiers, designed as a clean white landscape to contrast against the industrial building, allowing an array of different means to engage with the space. To complete the space, a large bar and seating area was installed using a similar language of clean linear elements to complement but also juxtapose with the existing concrete structure.
Loud spaces is a project that chooses to re-imagine the role of architecture in order to instigate change. It is by virtue of offering a voice to the community that promises to have the greatest impact. In order to create places with a sense of authenticity, create a process involving the community to help shape the spaces that people inhabit. Top-down won't work for the marginalised few.
The project proposed a forum for communities to come together to discuss issues of social change and urban development. Through this coming together, the public would decide how the kit of parts - used to create the structure of the forum - would be distributed and used for new uses.
Monument of Banavie
The project was developed as part of the RIBA Regent Street Window Competition in 2014 for the classic perfumery, Penhaligons. The delicate copper lattice structure was designed as a reference to the antiquated methods of distilling perfume and the copper apparatus used in the process. The project was proposed as an evocated and experiential piece that aimed at drawing people into the shop to engage with the making of the perfume.
The project was awarded Best Dressed window and due to its success was later installed in 17 of their stores globally.
A collaboration with Aljawad Pike.
Installation, Venice Biennale
Member of the commissioning team for the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 with Niall McLaughlin Architects. A 6-month period of research into the role of architecture in dementia, culminating in the production of an installation in Venice as a large projection of a drawing showing the life of a building occupied by carers and patients of a respite centre. Delicate brass stands held the projectors while a sea of speakers created the immersive experience as if being present inside the drawing.
EBBA was approached to design a proposal for the renovation of two disused arches in Deptford into a Bar and Gallery space for Buster Mantis. The project sought to create a clean and modern space with an intimate atmosphere, achieved through a simple palette and carefully chosen lighting. The establishment has proved to be a huge success, owed to the client's enthusiasm and determination, with many more startup businesses recently opening up shop in the area.
The Motor City
The Motor City | Location: Detroit, USA
A series of photographs documenting the urban decay and results of years of extreme deindustrialisation of a city.
This study was carried out as part of a larger investigation into the emergence and later decline of what once was one of the most exciting and booming cities in the world. The project sought to explore the influences on the urban growth of Detroit and proposed possible futures for the Post-Industrial condition the city faces today. Much attention has been focused on the blight left over after massive deindustrialisation yet there are signs and opportunities for a re-imagination of Detroit as it builds itself from the ground up.
In 2008, an initiative known as the “Detroit Future City” explored the potential for future urban changes to generate a short and long-term strategy for the realignment of the city, and carries forward as the only consensual planning document for urban development.
Detroit Future City offers a chance to “re-imagine” the Motor City, generate equal rights through its landscape, and recover all social identities. Key to planning a future framework for Detroit is one that is not only functional but also economically viable, and can improve transport and communal infrastructures. The strategy would prevail if it was able to reclaim the rights of the collective and offer a chance for the population to engage with new industries, and more importantly, relieve unemployment.
It is often presumed that urban growth in America is inherently positive and that a faster growing city will be beneficial for a population’s economy. Equally, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking Detroit is a failure, although this is a realisation coming out of the present tendencies of urban decline. Taking into account that nature can offer a reflection of social and cultural identity, we can conclude from a spatial understanding of Detroit that it suffers from a landscape of social polarisation in a divided city of spatial inequalities. The relationship with the natural and human environments within cities can influence the perception and collective memory of a community by defining new meaning to landscape, and by defining ourselves. Detroit must be imagined as a land of opportunities rather one of indifferences, and to understand how signs of blight can provide the incentive for new life. In this instance, Detroit anticipates an uncertain future landscape, in the hope that it will be recognised as the capital of the twenty-first century for radically different reasons.