Portfolio project
A feasibility study for the housing development in Oslo

Thibaut Devulder

In this project, we helped a housing developer unlock the potential of a complex site in the beautiful neighbourhood of Nordstrand, in Oslo. Bringing together our skills in site analysis and visualisation, we designed and presented alternative development strategies for the site, helping the developer and the site owner to build architecture that is both inspiring and financially viable.

A visualisation of the site with sun access at different season, as part of our site anany

A visualisation of the site with sun access at different season, as part of our site anany

A view of the site before development, with its mature trees and steep north-facing rocky slope at the back

Surrounding by elegant villas with fantastic views to Oslo Fjord, the undeveloped site had a complex topography, with a north-facing rocky slope dropping 11 meter drop across the site, overgrown with several large mature trees.

This unusual configuration made the site unsuitable for standard off-the-shelf housing solutions. So the developer asked us to assess the viability of a development and to bring in some creative thinking to showcase the potential of the site to the site owner.

Analysing the site

Using available topographic information and photos, we started by creating a 3D model of the site landscape and its surrounding, which would serve as the basis for our analysis and presentation.

The various layers of planning regulations for the site were then analysed and compiled into a clear set of constraints applying to the project. The surrounding architectural context was also carefully taken into consideration, so that the development would not only integrated with the landscape, but also related meaningfully with the existing architectural language and scale of the residential area.

Our visual representation of the constraints on the complex site considerably simplified the decision-making process for the developer

Identifying viable development options and their planning consequences

Presenting these constraints visually, together with topographic and climatic data, we summarised a set of alternative scenarios for the development, each with the associated areas, possible building forms, parking and access requirements and consequences on the potential complexity of the planning process.

With all information clearly summarised, the developer could easily review the options — weighing costs versus complexity of the required planning process — to select an optimal development scale matching his financial and marketing approach.

Thinking with the landscape

With the project scale now clearly defined (in our case, three single family units), we proceeded with structuring the site and developed alternative architectural strategies based on this scenario.

Our focus was on preserving the natural feel of the site, making the most of the existing topography and vegetation to create attractive outdoor spaces with extensive access to the sun for a large part of the year, despite the awkward orientation of the site.

The dwellings were articulated around the different levels of the landscape to minimise groundworks on the site, preserve the existing trees and promote accessibility.

Their volumes were laid out to reduce self-shading of the garden areas, balancing open communal outdoor areas with more private garden spaces linked to each dwelling, framing view from the living spaces and preserving a feeling of privacy from neighbours.

Taking an informed decision

The result was five alternative architectural strategies that could be presented to the developer to the site owner.

We organised our presentation around clear diagrams that visually summarised each strategy, with site plans, massing perspectives and outline dwelling organisations. so that the site owner — who had no previous experience in development — could appreciate the potential of the site and take inform decisions about its future.

2hD offering free architectural consultancy for community groups

Chris Heuvel

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 

InPhase warehouse

Tom Hughes

We're delighted to be working for InPhase Media Services on the initial stages of a warehouse conversion project. The site, near Nottingham station, will house two large film and photography studios and state of the art facilities including a massive infinity wall.

Head over to the InPhase website or see their facebook or twitter presence for updates as the project evolves.

InPhase Media concept sketch

Adventure Play Centre

Tom Hughes

It's nice to get a recommendation and to support local projects!

This play centre is in need of extra space for an office and creche, and wants to make use of sunken no-man's land corner of their site. However they have no resources for the project until they get funding, and to get that they have to run the idea past the local planners and other stakeholders.

Sometimes in situations like this we can help to break the deadlock by putting a little bit of work in 'up front'. A local contact who we worked with on the Sneinton Trail project put us in touch with the play centre, we went to take a look, and turned out these simple drawings. It's a start.

On one level this is just a feel-good thing to do, but it isn't purely altruistic: it means that there might be a real project sometime in the future (one which would improve our community), we build up a huggable reputation, we might get another recommendation out of it, and we can write and illustrate some self promotional material like this.

Portfolio project
1 Thoresby Street art space

Tom Hughes

Nottingham has a thriving arts scene, and over the last few years there has been a swell of artist-led studios and galleries.

We’ve had a chance to find out more by getting involved with the 1 Thoresby Street building, part of BioCity where the Stand Assembly artist studios, and the influential Moot gallery (which recently disbanded) have been given space. It’s a vibrant place with artist studios and several galleries from the poster-sized Keep Floors and Passages Clear, to the bedroom sized Trade to the 180m2 attic space. It was the Reading Room for the fantastic Hinterland project, a base for experiments in projection from Annexinema and is now the base and a major venue for the upcoming Sideshow — the British Art Show fringe event.

We’ve been helping the artists to get to grips with their building, making something workable, safe and with a strong identity on a minimal budget and, with the future of the building uncertain due to development and road widening plans, probably temporary. It’s a work in progress and an association with the art scene in Nottingham that we hope will continue. For us, it has also spawned a collaboration with artist Tristan Hessing on a piece for the Lincolnshire coast.

At 1 Thoresby Street an empty, wasted and forlorn building has had new life breathed in to it. We urge you to get down there to catch some Sideshow events, which run from 22 October to 18 December.