The Bloomsbury terrace is a wonderfully versatile piece of urban infrastructure, shown to be capable of numerous changes-of-use over the years, while being blessed with a robust and enduringly relevant architectural character.
The redevelopment of the Paul Mellon Centre at No. 16 Bedford Sq. presented us with a complex challenge. Expanding into No. 15, the client required additional library and archive spaces as well as new study rooms, seminar rooms, a catering kitchen, and a new reception. Getting to know the historic significance of this Grade 1 Listed terrace helped us to identify latent qualities (within what were formerly domestic spaces) that could be reactivated to support and compliment the building’s new uses. The proposal, which was recently granted planning permission by Camden Council, is a careful re-composition of rooms that enables the centre to achieve new ambitions while protecting the historic significance of Bedford Square. Through this cooperation between historic sense and cultural ambition the legacy of the Bloomsbury terrace successfully evolves and prospers.
Clare reflects on a controversial student project that caused a rethink in her approach to practice. Architecture Today, March 2015.
Students had designed housing for mutated children in the post-apocalyptic world of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids. Their schemes could have been interesting if they had responded to the well described local materials, climatic difference, the children’s telepathy, the effect that had on their social interaction, or their way of being. Instead, they were twisted and bent with distorted apertures to merely reflect the children’s mutations.
“I have always been repelled by schemes that I think are different only for the sake of difference. In contrast, my office has found that thinking about design for those who are different has helped us clarify our thinking about universal human needs.”
Extra Care apartments, by Wright & Wright
2015 RIBA LONDON REGIONAL AWARDS for Newlands Academy
A school for 70 students with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. The plan is surrounded by a belt of green spaces and has a courtyard/amphitheatre at its centre – playfully mediating a 3m change in level across the site. All teaching spaces enjoy an aspect of this calm yet stimulating landscape. Nowhere does one feel trapped.
Landscape: Fabrik Landscape Architects
CDM: Aversion RMS
Client: London Borough of Southwark
LEP Partner: 4Futures
Main Contractor: Balfour Beatty
Partner, James Taylor, talks to Robert Elms about the practice and picks a favourite London building. Hear the interview at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02kbk0m (starts: ’37:45′)
Magdalen College Library
AJ Specification, February 2015
Preserving a distinct part of this college while introducing new building standards required a careful arbitration of interests. Rather than compromise, we looked for how these interests might be made to support each other. For example, a natural ventilation system is to be created by making openings in the roof – tucked in behind the parapet line. Internally, these openings occur behind existing wooden decorative screens that conceal the junction between wall and roof. This old feature takes on the new role of a ventilation grill, as well as characterising the top deck of this new library with dappled light – a place for readers who like to nest.