Our self-builder clients share hands-on experience

By Thibaut Devulder, on
Appointing an architect has been one of the most valuable expenses of the project. I guess that it varies with the architecture practice you are working with, but for our project, the architects have worked perfectly and have created a home totally adapted to our lifestyle and our constraints. Nothing to do with our original basic plans, nothing at all. Everything was taken into accounts: daylight, connections between the spaces, the volumes, the different levels...
Béranger Hau, client and self-builder

With now ten years of experience as self-builder, transforming a old stone barn in Dordogne (France) into their dream home, our clients Béranger and Mélanie look back at their amazing achievements.

Over these years they have realised virtually all aspects of the building process themselves — from groundworks and water recycling system, to carpentry and furniture making. They have now decided to give back to the self-building community by sharing all their experience in a great article on their project blog (in French), touching on subjects as varied as project planning, finance and tips on how to not hurt your back on a building site...

2hD started to work as architects on this project as soon as Béranger and Mélanie purchased the run-down stone barn, back in 2006. And we have worked hand-in-hand with them ever-since: helping them define a solid project brief, developing sketch design alternatives, selecting adapted and affordable technical solutions, but also creating custom 3D models of the barn to guide them through the self-build construction process.

Amazingly attentive to details and quality, they are now proud owners of a stunning home, as well as experienced carpenters, plumbers, furniture makers and SketchUp 3D modellers! And they even received an award for their work...

Discussing the usefulness of working with architects in self-build projects, this is what our client Béranger has to say:

Our client building the new staircase of the converted barn, using massive oak boards sourced from a local sawmill. 

In the end, even if your project is not as large as ours and does not (legally) require an architect, we strongly advise you to appoint one. You will have all the drawings, and thus a definite vision of what your home can be. And this brings a lot in terms of motivation and anticipation.
Béranger Hau

You can read the full article on our client's project blog.

Designing self-build projects for artists

By Tom Hughes, on

A recent project at One Thoresby Street artists studios and gallery gave us a chance to develop new techniques for designing with self-builders.

Artists at the One Thoresby Street gallery, building our design themselves

As part of a longstanding relationship with the artists at One Thoresby Street (OTS), we were asked to design a lobby space for the top-floor Attic Gallery. This would sort out circulation between the gallery and studio spaces and provide a vital fire safety feature by separating the occupied space from the access stairwell. Unusually, the lobby would be built entirely by the artists themselves.

We approached the project through a careful survey of the existing building and designed the lobby to create a great experience for visitors as they approached up the stairwell. A sliding fire door, held open on electronic sensors linked to the fire alarm system ensures that movement and views through are eased. The height of the lobby is reduced to contrast with the tall gallery space, which also minimises the materials used and creates a storage and projection deck overhead.

High technical standards had to be met in the project to create a fire resistant construction, the budget was tight for materials and the building team (skilled makers but not construction professionals) needed to have excellent clarity over the build process.

This put huge demands on the communication of technical information, so we took an approach more normally found in larger scale projects - we created a 'Building Information Model'. This was a CAD model showing every structural member, board and component, organised to give the artists a coordinated picture of the materials to order, the dimensions for cutting, the assembly sequence and the spatial relationship between every item in the final assembly. We then lent the group a laptop with the CAD model installed so that they could take the information directly off it on site.

The build proceeded smoothly with a tiny number of requests for additional information, wastage of materials was kept to a minimum and the end result is a happy self build client, an effective adaptation and an safer, better Attic Gallery space at OTS.

Can architectural skills help save a local landmark?

By Tom Hughes, on

Tom and Chris have been working with a 'community alliance' in Sneinton, Nottingham.  A local historic building, much loved by the community, is under threat of demolition. We've offered our community engagement and architectural skills to "dOSH" (Development of the Old School Hall) which has formed to find a sustainable use for the site.

Bringing the community together to share knowledge and ideas.

The Old School Hall building dates from the 1840s. Originally a school standing on the boundary between Sneinton and Nottingham, the building served generations of pupils. When in the 1960s a new modern school was opened just up the road, the Old School Hall community centre was created on the site. Many local residents have positive associations with the building as both a school and community centre, so the news that it had closed, and would face demolition, came as a significant blow.

Through his work with Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum, meeting with local Councillors, residents and community groups, Tom helped to arrange a public meeting to bring together all interested people and groups. The strategy was to ensure good information was in the public realm about the threat faced by the building, and to find out whether there was an appetite to try and save the building or to reuse the site for another purpose. The Council had revealed that the building would require a significant investment to make it safe for use and for refurbishment. Despite this, a strong will was identified to try and find a new use for the building, retaining some element of community access whilst securing a viable income stream to maintain the building for the future

Tom attended these meetings and helped the group to come together, structured appropriately as an 'Unincorporated Association' with a clearly defined remit: "To help save the Old School Hall by meeting to discuss feasibility and develop ideas arising from the community to create a business plan". He also researched the history of the site, created posters, spread the word through social media and set up a website and blog for the dOSH group: www.doshsneinton.org.uk

By happy coincidence at this point, Chris was putting the word out to community groups, offering free consultancy as part of his research at Nottingham Trent University. He has been advising the dOSH group on understanding the existing building, seeking advice on the structural stability and condition including liaising with structural engineers and reviewing existing condition reports.

The challenges facing the group are extensive, but the collaborative approach we have helped to foster, in getting organised and understanding both problems and visions, has started things off on the right foot.


The groups represented in dOSH include:

Ooo-Ya-Tsu at digital art festival Les Pixels

By Thibaut Devulder, on

L'Association Culturelle Argentine (ASCA) has invited us to present our art performance Ooo-Ya-Tsu as part of the 8th edition of their digital art festival Les Pixels, on Thursday 24th November 2016, in Beauvais (France).

In the days preceding the performance, we will be also running workshops with local schools and associations, creating a large hand-painted and digital fresco for the festival.

After La Gare Numérique and La Malterie, this will be the third public presentation of our live performance Ooo-Ya-Tsu, an art collaboration with art collective Qubo Gas and musician Olivier Durteste..

Photography: Kubik's new office for Norman & Co

By Thibaut Devulder, on

Kubik Interiørarkitekter — the talented interior architects with whom we are sharing an office space in Oslo — asked me to take photos of their freshly completed new interior for Norman & Co, Norway's oldest law firm, in Oslo's exclusive Akerbrygge neighbourhood.

Here are some of my shots, trying to capture Kubik's delicate contrast of warm materials and cool light...

Photos taken brilliantly, in all aspects of the word!
Nice, precise, detailed and beautifully captured with brilliant colours. We will definitely ask 2hD again to photograph our interior projects!
Hege Liven, interior architect at Kubik

Rudsveien remodelling underway

By Thibaut Devulder, on

Our remodelling and extension of a a family house in Bærum is progressing well, with the structures of the new garage and extension completed, and the new insulated cladding and windows installed. The interior spaces have also been opened up, starting to reveal how the interior spaces will key into one another and into the garden.

Photography: Sykkelhotell, by Various Architects

By Thibaut Devulder, on

On my way back from a site visit in Eidsvoll, I did a pitstop at Lillestrøm station to take some photos of the new bicycle hotel designed by our fellow office workers Various Architects, who I collaborated with on several projects and competitions. A beautiful little building with a restrained, almost Japanese-like, palette of materials and a very nice sense of scale. Here are a few of my shots.

2hD offering free architectural consultancy for community groups

By Chris Heuvel, on

If you are a community group and feel you could benefit from some free advice, please get in touch! As part of my research at Nottingham Trent University, I am exploring the ways in which architects can make links between their business and local communities for the mutual benefit of both. This means I'm in a position to offer my services to a community group, free of charge, to advise them on a particular project. This would need to be undertaken between October 2016 and April 2017.

In particular I am looking for opportunities to work with people on the redesign of spaces and places of community value. This might involve planning issues, landscaping, construction issues or internal reorganisation of spaces — if you make initial contact with me I'd be delighted to discuss your needs and ideas.

As I am doing this in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University, please contact me via my NTU email: chris.heuvel@ntu.ac.uk 

Tom's running in aid of local charity School for Parents

By Tom Hughes, on

I'm running my first half marathon on September 25th to support a great local charity.

All too often, parents of disabled children don’t know where to turn – they may feel isolated, powerless or depressed. School for Parents is based in 2hD's local neighbourhood of Sneinton in Nottingham. Most of their work involves children with motor learning difficulties or motor development delay. They encourage these children to develop basic motor, sensory and self help skills such as sitting, standing, touching, listening, looking, eating and playing. 

A key part of their work is to help parents understand and accept their child’s disability and teach them how to help their child. Staff give parents and siblings the emotional support they need to help them cope, as well as offering practical advice and information.

And I think that's awesome.

If you'd like to help me support this wonderful cause, please visit my Justgiving page and consider making a donation. Thank you!

Update 01/12/16: I completed the run in just under 1 hour 55 minutes, and thanks to my generous sponsors raised £461.43 for the School for Parents! A great experience but, by far, the hardest physical challenge of my life.

Tom & Chris working on NTU research project

By Tom Hughes, on

We were out and about in Sneinton, the area around our Nottingham base, yesterday as part of a research project at Nottingham Trent University's School of Architecture and The Built Environment. This was an orientation walk for researchers and student volunteers involved in a project to map Nottingham's identity, and we were able to contribute our local knowledge of the area's history and recent developments. Leading the walk was Community Organiser Shabana Najib of Sneinton Alchemy, who are the local community partners in the project.

Visiting local community project Growin' Spaces at Dale Allotments in Sneinton

Visiting local community project Growin' Spaces at Dale Allotments in Sneinton

The research will also cover Carrington in Nottingham, with outputs and further engagement planned for the Nottingham Central Library in September. You can find out more and get involved via the research project blog.

Chris interviews Turner Prize winner Assemble

By Chris Heuvel, on

In conjunction with my research into how architects can develop their practice through engagement with members of a community, I will be hosting a talk by Lewis Jones of the 2015 Turner Prize winning collective Assemble

My interview will be conducted in public as part of the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society's programme in The Curve Auditorium, Norwich Forum on Wednesday 6th July 2016 at 7:30pm.

For more information, see the NCAS website.

 

Tom wins BSRIA competition, with "practical and interesting" idea

By Tom Hughes, on

Back in April I entered the BSRIA ideas competition "Make Buildings Better". My idea is simple but might be quite radical, if it could be realised...

Jayne Sunley, Knowledge Manager at BSRIA said, “We’re delighted with the variety and inventiveness of the entries submitted. Tom’s idea stood out as a genuinely practical and interesting way of tackling the performance deficit of buildings. So many problems occur at junctions, rather than within components themselves, it is an obvious place to focus attention”.

You can read more about my entry and the other great ideas from the runners up on the Designing Buildings Wiki.

Cabane

By Thibaut Devulder, on

Playing with my two-year-old son in my dad's garden, we found a bundle of young shoots freshly cut from a pollarded maple tree. Without any particular plan to build anything, we started to stake them into the ground and bend them around randomly. We somehow ended up with a nice little hut...

The structure of woven maple shoots we ended up with...

The overall form of the hut and its weaving patterns simply emerged from the natural flexibility of the bent branches and the shape of our own bodies pushing them around. A refreshing lack of processed materials, tools or planned design. Just an interaction between play and the natural resources of a place. Maybe the way a bird would build its nest?

The branches were simply woven into one another, without any particular plan or pattern

The resulting woven structure was surprisingly strong!