23 Crowe Lane – Construction Progress

Contruction progress

Construction of this innovative new house is progressing on site. The foundations are cast. The engineered timber superstructure is next.
https://www.dscape.co.uk/crowe-lane/

Vacancy for a Project Architect, Bath, UK

We are a design-led, collaborative and open practice, and we enjoy designing beautiful, bespoke, ingenious architecture, finding a unique and sustainable architectural solution for each client. We are currently working on a wide variety of exciting, high quality projects in the residential, cultural and commercial sectors, including new build and working with listed buildings.

We are currently seeking an ambitious and talented Project Architect with at least 5 years post qualification experience to join our busy, friendly studio. We are looking for a candidate with a thorough knowledge of contract administration and technical design, with experience of running projects and managing assistants. Design excellence, commitment to the team, enthusiasm and excellent communication skills are all essential. Experience in ArchiCAD would be an advantage.

If you would like to join our friendly, talented team please email your CV, sample portfolio and covering letter with notice period to: jobs@dscape.co.uk 

Designscape Architects is an equal opportunities employer.

Unfortunately we are not always able to respond to every CV we receive.

No agencies please.

2019 in review

A successful year in architecture

Despite the challenging economic climate, 2019 was a positive year for Designscape both in realising some exciting new building projects in the Bath area and working with some exciting new clients in both regeneration & sustainability. 

As flag bearers for the #Architects Declare campaign (the industry ‘call to arms’ for the climate emergency & biodiversity crisis) not only did we attend some interesting talks but have also introduced our own CPD programme to address the issue of designing and building sustainably.

 

Realised buildings

The Schoolhouse

Sensitive alteration & extension of a Listed Victorian home harnessing natural daylight into an otherwise dark interior improving inhabitants’ wellbeing and reducing energy bills. More images of The Schoolhouse can be seen here.

The Schoolhouse, Wiltshire

Middle Stoke 

An innovative cantilevered house with green roof embedding the building into the landscape. Read more here.

Middle Stoke, Bath

Withycombe House

An alteration & extension complete with green roof and bat boxes to support biodiversity. More project details can be found here.

 Withycombe House, Bath

Park Cottage

Including a Zollinger Roof (believed to be the first in the country) resulting in 40% less timber in the construction resulting in improved sustainability. Take a closer look at this project here.

Park Grounds

A resource recovery plant whose design presenting a positive step in significant reduction in landfill and increase in recyclables, simultaneously producing waste energy that will feed back into the National Grid. Click here to read more.

Audley Park & Widcombe Crescent one new build and one extension both nearing completion.

Planning consents

Madam’s Paddock

Planning Consent (following Design Review Panel) for a new build home situated in the Green Belt between Bath & Bristol.  More details can be found here.

Madams Paddock, by Designscape Architects

Crowe Lane

Planning Consent for Crowe Lane, a sustainable new build on the edge of Bath which will be constructed of local materials and machined timber.

Crowe Lane, sustainable new build home in Bath

The Beacon

A contemporary new build on a wooded site over looking Bath, designed to make the most of the site with minimum impact.

The Beacon, designed by Designscape Architects, Bath

Business development

The tail end of 2019 also saw us invited to pitch for a master planning project in the ‘Education’ sector following sight of our designs for improved outdoor space & energy efficiency at Freshford School . We were appointed to 2 new local authority frameworks, SWPA & WPA. And most notably we have recently submitted and landmark proposal for a client that, if approved, will see construction of a prototype commercial building that will bring enormous benefits to the local community through both its design & purpose.

Our Team

Our continued commitment to encouraging young architects into the industry, by supporting their professional development saw us welcome 3 new architectural assistants to the practice in 2019 along with a marketing & business development lead.

Technology

Investing in new technology in order to improve the service we offer to our clients both in terms of visualising their project ahead of build & in designing buildings that use materials responsibly & economically has elevated our service in 2019.


We have also redesigned our website during 2019 in order that we can better tell our story while showcasing our body of work and are committed to bringing new content to our clients and collaborators to continue our journey of designing sustainable buildings that are a joy for users to inhabit.

Big sheds

In collaboration with Bath based engineering practice, Format Engineers, we have developed our own ‘Big Sheds’ initiative & produced a manifesto to help commercial clients design more efficiently and sustainably as we move into a new era. We hope that this stimulates a wider conversation around commercial buildings, especially as see an increase in storage and distribution requirements as online shopping habits continue to rise. Exactaform in Coventry below, is one such Big Shed that we designed in response to our client’s brief for a work environment that helps improve employee wellbeing. 

Community & sustainability

Over the past 12 months we collaborated with Bath & NES Independent Group in the run up to the local elections, specifically around transport in Bath. We shared insights on our Free Buses in Bath campaign, first aired as part of the Imagine Bath competition. This is an initiative we spearheaded with RIBA SW in 2015, off the back of a hunch that many of those inhabiting Bath have a little dream of how they would like to improve it.

Keen to see Bath better serve its inhabitants, we were also participants at the inaugural ‘Therapeutic City’ Festival in August, an initiative we are keen to support and have more involvement with in 2020.

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Off the back of our commitment to #Architects Declare, and conscious of reducing our practice’s carbon footprint, we arranged a ‘low impact’ annual study trip this year, heading north to enjoy the architectural delights the Midlands to inspire and focus our design thinking. 

All round, a positive year for Designscape Architects and we look forward to embracing what 2020 brings in building design.

Eastcourt – New House

Work on constructing this new house is about to commence. This 5 bedroom house located in Lansdown, Bath is arranged in two wings and features buff brickwork, Bathstone columns and window surrounds.

Beacon Edge – Planning Approval

Planning approval has been obtained for this innovative new house located in Bath. Positioned on the edge of a wooded hillside above the city, the house cantilevers over the slope below to minimise foundation structure.
https://www.dscape.co.uk/the-beacon/

Little Court – Construction progress

Construction work is progressing in the construction of the new extension and comprehensive remodelling of this 6 bedroom house in Lansdown Bath.

Avonbridge House – Listed Building Consent

A Headquarters in a Listed factory building

Listed Building Consent and planning approval has been obtained for the conversion of former attic space within what was once the first Condensed Milk factory in the country to office space. Occupiers Alliance Pharmaceuticals intend to expand to include this space by 2021 and have been refurbishing the building in phases. Interior Design and space planning is by Wylde IA.

https://www.dscape.co.uk/avonbridge-house/

Architects Declare Conference 2019

What next for architects declare?

Instigated by 17 Stirling Prize winning practices in May 2019, the Architects Declare Conference 2019 is in response to the, dare I call it, ‘movement’ that has grown to include over 800 UK architects practices and spawned international affiliated groups in another 14 countries and similar organisations in allied professions. 

Surviving beyond 2050

 The 10 principles to which signatories agree to commit  are direct responses to the current climate emergency and all challenge the existing system of commissioning, designing, building and occupying buildings.  All are vital to shift the way in which the design and build sector operates if we are to have a chance of achieving the objective of modern society surviving beyond 2050 – yes really!

Architects unite

Designscape signed up to Architects Declare in June and on 27th November we attended the inaugral Architects Declare Conference, held at Haworth Tomkins’ recently restored Battersea Arts Centre. Organised by a steering committee including Julia Barfield, Peter Clegg and Steve Tompkins, it was attended by many of architecture’s  leading figures with representatives from Grimshaw, Foster and Partners, Hopkins, Thistleton Waugh, Mikhail Riches and Cullinan Studio amongst others. If anyone was expecting something of a ‘How to solve the climate emergency with a new sustainability tool kit’ event, they might have been a bit surprised. This was anything other than some kind of earnest, specialist knowledge exchange – although that might come later. Neither was it all doom and gloom, in fact far from it. 

Architects solve problems

Whilst the challenges are enormous and as one delegate put it ‘feel like standing in a swollen river trying to make it flow the other way’, there was an enormous element of positivity as to how this might be done. As another said, ‘It’s a big problem, but that’s what we architects do – solve problems!’. Not that it is a problem for architects alone to solve – many of the attendees came from other allied disciplines such as civil, structural and mechanical engineering and there was a consistent theme that this can only be done by collaboration and  cooperation.

How did we get here?

First, before the ‘How are we going to solve it?’ discussions, there was some scene setting and inspiration from the guest speakers. First up Jeremy Lent, author of ‘The Patterning Instinct’ which considers how culture shapes values, values shape history and the patterns of thought that have led civilization to its current sustainability crisis. This is Big Picture stuff.

The ugly facts of overconsumption

How have we ended up in the situation where man, or more specifically western civilisation, has in the last 500 years consumed wildly more than its fair share of resources and put us on a crash course for mass extinction? Ugly facts include half of marine life lost in the last 40 years and a 60% reduction in animal life since 1970!  You can read more about Lent’s insight into how the West’s attitude has given rise to the current climate crisis here

The ecological ceiling

The next speaker, economist Kate Raworth, offered another viewpoint on how western values are causing us to live beyond our ecological means. Raworth’s book ‘Doughnut Economics’ challenges the conventional model which places Supply and Demand at the centre of our values. What about everything else – quality of life, relationships, freedom, health? She sought to present a more holistic value model represented by concentric rings – the doughnut. The outer ring is defined by the sustainable limits of the planet (our Ecological Ceiling), the inner, the human rights and qualities to which all aspire (Social Foundation). In essence, the trick is to fill the middle ring, without expanding beyond the outer. For the West to make this happen, we need move towards a regenerative cycle which regards everything as a potential resource.

Biomimicry

While we are all becoming more familiar with the ideas of sustainability, the challenge here is to go one step further – a regenerative system in which the design and construction industry improves on buildings that do NO HARM to buildings that make a POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION. Raworth points towards the concept of biomimicry where coral and trees sequester carbon and the idea that CO2 is not intrinsically bad, it is simply a resource in the wrong place. There are businesses that  have made the transition from degenerative to regenerative – it is possible.

These insights strike at the very heart of what we do as architects; who we work for, by what methods and to what ends. Fundamentally, how do we responsibly manage sustainable growth and is it even possible?

What next for architects declare?

From this high level primer, the Architects Declare Conference moved onto considering what delegates and signatories wanted from the Architects Declare platform and how we might meet the challenging commitments of the declaration. Joining a discussion considering how to share knowledge and research on an open source basis we shared our experiences and what individual architects practices are doing to get to grips with the issue.

 

Embodied carbon

It is clear that to have any hope of reducing the global impact of construction, we need to be equipped with reliable information to inform design and specification decisions. At present, existing design tools and regulations have been focussed on predicting the cost, carbon or energy in use in buildings and in some cases measuring it post occupation. What is more difficult is calculating embodied carbon. Figures exist for the manufacture of most common products. We know that concrete is particularly bad and the relative CO2 emissions for steel and aluminium, but this is not the whole picture. Some particularly bad materials may in fact only represent a relatively small part of a component or construction, factors such as transport, longevity, re-use and recyclability also need to be considered. The need for bench marking projects and setting targets for future buildings in terms of life-time CO2, including embodied carbon, needs to take place. From a client perspective the relative economics will undoubtedly figure – choices and possible compromises will need to be informed by knowledge. The need for an authoritative open platform is clear, suggestions included expanding carbon libraries for BIM entities and hosting information via the designingbuildings wiki site.

Architects sharing intellectual property

A potential point of friction was in the discussion around the sharing of intellectual property amongst architects. Somewhat surprised that this was so close to the surface

‘If I have found a clever way to achieve a low carbon building, do I want to share it with potential competitors?’

and at odds with the collaborative aspirations of the Architects Declare manifesto, surely as creative architects we will demonstrate our talents by integrating this shared knowledge in advancing architecture for the good of all. ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’ makes for progress and it would be extremely disappointing if petty professional rivalries obstructed this key objective.

Legislation

There was a general agreement amongst the architects at the conference that there will be a need for top down legislation for lifetime carbon limits. But what level of target would be appropriate? How might this be achieved? How might we view offsetting?

There are clear question for signatories working in the aviation sector. More work is required as well as the commitment for government to implement such legislation and with this, the need for a change in taxation which discourages re-fit in favour of new build. Building Regulations Part L is currently in consultation, there is an opportunity to push for some of these changes now. 

Design Education and climate crisis

Another theme was the need for better education for students and architects in this area to expand the knowledge base within the profession and practices, better that this expertise is in-house rather than solely the realm of external consultants.

The general concensus amongst architects

The organisers sought to ‘map’ opinions at the conference directly with delegates. In response to a series of yes/no questions we located ourselves from left to right across the hall to reflect the spectrum of opinion. People were then encouraged to express why they stood where they did. Questions included:

  • Should Architects Declare lobby for the Green New Deal?

  Yes of course!

  • Should UK VAT rules for new build be reversed in favour of refurbishment?

Mixed response

  • Should signatories refuse to work with clients who did not agree with the climate change agenda?

Ranging from ‘Absolutely no way’ to ‘If we don’t, someone else will’

Certainly a sense to better try and convince a reluctant client from the inside, even if you later decide that your objectives are not sufficiently aligned!

While there was accord on many of the questions, as one might expect, at times there was a spread from hard lined to more nuanced views. However, at least there was one general concensus one one point:

‘We cannot continue with ‘Business as Usual’

We are challenged to define what as architectural practices, we plan to do to meet our declaration commitments.

Architects collaborate

In drawing the conference to a conclusion, the organisers, sought a mandate for what Architects Declare should do next. The motion to continue its campaign by lobbying government and other bodies received a clear yes. Delegates were encouraged to collaborate with their own initiatives through the steering committee and also hold their own responsiblity.  From the floor and coming out of group discussions, there was a clear desire for Architects Declare to be the organisation around which some of the practicalities of achieving a regenerative future should coalesce.  In addition to lobbying, can Arcitects Declare become a central resource for practical advice and the sharing of information? I think this is what many delegates are hoping for.

In conclusion

The issue of Climate Change can at times feel overwhelming and insurmountable. The conference really did challenge this fatalistic position, leaving delegates with a positive sense of how world views can change, how organisations are already making a difference and the power that collective and collaborative action can make for a radical change.

In a short space of time, the efforts of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg have affected the expectations and behaviours of both individuals and organisations. We were reminded that

Architects, both as professionals and human beings, have a greater agency for change than we might imagine and opportunity as well as responsibility to utilise our creative skills to become part of the solution – not the problem.

Study Trip 2019

Curbing our carbon footprint

Having signed up to the Architects Declare climate manifesto earlier this year, being mindful of our carbon footprint we decided against taking flights for our 2019 study trip and headed for some creative inspiration closer to home. Our much anticipated annual study trip is our time to team build, add to our professional development and inform our architectural design thinking. 

Invited to visit the renovation of the historic Flaxmill Maltings in Shrewsbury, we made this the starting point for a packed programme of art, history and architecture, from medieval Shrewsbury to Birmingham, “the Workshop of the World”

Worcester

So we all piled into the minibus, and set off on a promisingly sunny afternoon up the M5 to Worcester and our first stop The Hive, designed by our neighbours at FCB Studios. Unusually this building combines both University and Public Library. Sunlight glinted on the seven unique cone forms comprising the roof (inspired by the kilns of the historic Royal Worcester works and the undulating ridge of the Malvern Hills) and was reflected by the golden scales of the cladding. We were impressed by the fantastic sustainability credentials and the beautifully calm interior of concrete and ash.

Study Trip 2019

Shrewsbury

By the time we arrived in Shrewsbury it was getting dark and just in time for the most atmospheric night walk from the Castle at the top of the town down to the river through the narrow medieval alleys, and streets lined with lovely Georgian townhouses. Our guide was Alistair Godfrey, who would be taking us around the Flaxmill Maltings the next day, and his knowledge of Shrewsbury and its quirkier side was fascinating.
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The next morning we met Alistair at the Flax Mills. Alistair is project director for English Heritage and he told us all about the renovation before we donned hard hats to explore the separate buildings that make up the site.

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It was a real treat to see how the world’s very first metal-framed building was being brought back to life and to learn about the history of the mills through the industrial revolution from Flax mill to Maltings from such a knowledgeable source. So a huge thank you to Alistair and we look forward to a return visit on completion.

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Walsall

The bright lights of Birmingham beckoned but we felt we couldn’t pass Walsall without dropping in on the New Art Gallery, designed by  Caruso St John. Even though it is now almost 20 years old it remains an exciting contemporary structure. Spencer was impressed:

“I really liked the Walsall art gallery, it was wearing really well, the patina of use seemed to be improving it – some really intriguing spaces within what looks like a simple cube of a building”.

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West Bromwich

One more stop off before Birmingham, in wet and windy West Bromwich, and a building some described as the low point of the trip, Will Alsop’s The Public, former Arts Centre now a Sixth Form College. Matched only by the neighbouring Sprinkles Gelato shop front, we mused.

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Birmingham

Once we had negotiated the traffic diversions in the ‘motor city’ of the Midlands, the hotel was a welcome rest (and Livia’s favourite building, although unsure whether that was the architecture or the breakfast), before immersing ourselves in Brummie culinary culture in the Balti Triangle. Lauren’s favourite moment.

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The next day after a hearty, aforementioned, breakfast, we abandoned Chris to the rugby world cup and set off through the Mailbox to the canal basins (via Make’s The Cube) where we piled onto a narrowboat to cruise just a small part of the huge network of waterways in and around the city to get a sense of Birmingham’s industrial heritage and to see how Birmingham is responding to the challenges of industrial decline with emerging new developments. Chris had caught up with us by then, very happy with “England boshing Australia” in the quarter final.

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Amongst the stand out buildings of our walking tour were the Victorian Gothic Revival forms of the Grade I Law Courts and the wonderful, derelict Grade II* Methodist Central Hall (Matt and Hilary failing to find a legal way in to explore the interior). The red bricks and terracotta mouldings looked as good as new even if the roofs had trees growing out of them. The over the top complexity and sumptuous detailing of these buildings demonstrated the pride and craft of the Victorians that built them. It is difficult to see how well the shiny new Birmingham buildings will fare in comparison.
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The new Birmingham Conservatoire by FCB Studios (2018 RIBA National Award) was also notable. The private and intense world of rehearsal had been brought together with the public world of performance in a welcoming and accessible space. A peek into the beautifully detailed Bradshaw Concert Hall was well worth it.

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The Library by Mecanoo also had its moments. Clearly a lot of money had been spent on the exterior, a filigree façade of interlocking metallic circles, ensuring it stood out from its neighbours, the brutalist Birmingham Rep on one side and the rather austere Civic Centre on the other. We thought the roof top gardens were beautifully planted and designed, although the main ground floor space was a bit disappointingly finished. The building gave the impression of a mini city within, tying in with the architect’s vision of a ‘People’s Palace’. Overall a thumbs up and an opportunity for a bit of sketching.
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Looping back to the city centre and the iconic Rotunda, the Selfridges Slug (sorry Jan Kaplicky and Amanda Levete), New Street Station (AZPML) divided opinion.

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After negotiating the new Bullring Shopping Centre on a Saturday afternoon (consumerism on a massive scale), we found ourselves in dire need of refreshment so we quickly diverted to once gritty, now bohemian Digbeth and the creative Custard Factory environs. Highlights included the street art, bar/barber’s and the wonderful Digbrew Company Beer and Taproom – with thanks to Lauren for the discovery.

Highlights of our last day were the discovery of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ Birmingham University Sports Centre, another RIBA National Award winner and Lauren’s favourite building and the stunning Coventry Cathedral, Alex and Matt’s favourite.

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Coventry Cathedral

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Exactaform

Lastly, we took the opportunity to visit one of Designscape’s own buildings near Coventry, a production facility and HQ built recently for Exactaform Cutting Tools, a company specialising in diamond tipped precision cutting tools. Only those who had been managing the project had visited before so it was great to see the bricks and mortar first hand instead of the CAD. We were clearly colour coordinated for our visit!

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Wending our way back to Bath, weary but buzzing with inspiration and creativity, it seemed that the all-round winning building from our low carbon 2019 Study Trip was the New Art Gallery, Walsall, and the most popular favourite experience, the Digbrew Company Beer and Taphouse. Roll on next year!

Big Shed

Big Sheds

How to make a Big Shed more commercially viable for your business

The term Big Sheds is a coverall for large commercial buildings that have a number of  uses: a manufacturing facility,  storage & distribution centre, climate-controlled data centre, retail space sports building or community space. Generally made from a universal set of parts – a steel portal frame wrapped in profiled metal cladding – there are new possibilities emerging in the digital design and manufacture of buildings. This has caused Designscape to re-evaluate the standard approach and challenge the industry standard approach to Big Shed design.

There are a number of key drivers behind these shifts:

Changes in technology

Changes in digital design technology (parametric modelling) and digital manufacturing are key drivers in finding a more cost and time efficient solution to Big Shed design. Parametric modelling and digital manufacturing techniques allow complex bespoke, optimised forms to be designed and made at no additional cost premium.

Commercial site availability

As suitable sites become increasingly difficult to find and the planning process becomes ever more demanding, so the concerns of sustainability, job creation and visual impact can be considered for a more positive planning outcome when proposing a Big Shed on a difficult site. A more bespoke and agile design solution can make an otherwise unviable site much more attractive. 

Cities and transport

Our cities are about to see some profound changes with the impending arrival of driverless vehicles, the requirement for clean air zones and automation of goods delivery services. As a consequence, Big Sheds are a feasible architectural solution to meet the growing needs out of town storage and freight consolidation  facilities to support growing last mile delivery networks.

Corporate identity and employee wellbeing

With building assets recognised as an important part of a company’s business strategy in an increasingly competitive global market, commissioning a Big Shed might be a practical consideration in projecting the right corporate image. Along with the increasing need to provide the ideal working conditions to both attract and retain employees, an elegant building design solution can help an organisation to help promote its CSR story.

Architecture and sustainability

A Big Shed can help address many of the issues surrounding the growing sustainability agenda – from design and materials to energy use and location.  As part of our pledge to  #Architects Declare our studio actively engages in sustainable architectural practices.

Humans

With employers mindful of the need to attract the best people, grow an internal culture that promotes productivity and create a working environment that reduces absenteeism and improves staff retention, designing a Big Shed to meet these requirements will have a positive economic impact for a business looking for a new premises.

Commercial building designed for employee wellbeing

Rethinking the big shed

If considering a new premises for your commercial business, we invite you to download a copy of our recent publication Rethinking the Big Shed which considers the key drivers to Big Shed design in more detail and explores some of our recent work in this area.

The future of big sheds

With some lateral thinking, innovation in Big Shed design can help business clients gain a competitive advantage in the commercial market place. Scarce and unusual sites can be made more viable. There are any number of commercial and economic benefits to commissioning a more agile building design to help businesses meet their longer term business objectives.

Designscape are an integral part of and foundation of our commercial projects as we look to modernise out global facilities. They understand our people and support development of the environments we need now and into the future.

Paul Hipkins, Global Project Manager, Seco Tools AB

Project Information.

Big Sheds can be a commercially viable business asset if well considered and designed. Here we share out insights on key drivers of Big Shed design and you can download our recent Big Sheds publication