Holding a creative space

Thibaut Devulder

The participatory arts magazine Mailout has published an article about our collaboration with artist Marcus Rowlands for our Lost Cuckoo public art project.

Written as a dialogue between Marcus, Tom and Thibaut, the article explores the role of artists and architects in the creative process and the idea of holding a creative space for public participation.

You can read the article on Scribd.

The full version of this issue of Mailout is also available online for purchase.

Portfolio project
The Lost Cuckoo

Thibaut Devulder

We have put together this short video about our Lost Cuckoo project with artist Marcus Rowlands from the DVD produced by the Lakeside Art Centre, who hosted the event last year.  The project was great fun and we are looking forward to developing this concept in other art festivals this year!

A public art and participation project by Marcus Rowlands artist and 2hD architects, involving pupils, parents and staff from Brocklewood, Melbury and Portland schools in Nottingham. Funded by The Arts Council, Lakeside Arts Centre and Nottingham Education Improvement Partnership, with support from Faspak and Staples. Original footage and sound by Vent Media. 2011.

The Lost Cuckoo project was commissioned and supported by the Arts Council England and Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

Portfolio project
A stone memorial for a Jewish congregation

Tom Hughes

This project is the result of our combined interests in public art, craftsmanship and education. Starting as a student design competition that we organised at Nottingham Trent University for the Nottingham Progressive Jewish Congregation, our design process became an involved exploration of traditional stone walling techniques and complex numerical modelling to create a solemn yet welcoming landscaped space.

This project was shortlisted for the RIBA East Midlands Award for Architecture 2011.

The completed stome memorial, with collaborating artist Igor Barteczko

We were approached by the client to create a memorial structure for their congregation’s cemetery on an exposed hillside with excellent views over the Trent valley. We proposed, set up and ran a design competition for students, then collaborated with the winner to bring the project to completion. We redesigned the competition winning entry, working with the student in the role of project artist, to ensure buildability and adherence to a very restricted budget.

Our innovations on this project include a rejuvenation of traditional craft building techniques and the use of three dimensional computer modelling to achieve the twisting shape using stonework. We developed a custom plugin for our 3D modelling software to help us explore alternative geometries with the stone masons and produce the required three-dimensional templates for the preparation of the curved ashlar stonework.

The first commemorative plaques, on the curved ashlar.

The resulting structure creates a strong sense of place with an intense focus for ceremonial purposes, whilst also framing views out and welcoming visitors in.

The Memorial viewed from the cemetery entrance.

Lost Cuckoo report

Thibaut Devulder

The Lost Cuckoo project culminated last weekend with an event at the Wheee! International Childrens' Theatre and Dance Festival at Nottingham's Lakeside Arts Centre. Nearly 1000 visitors participated in this live public art project, building imaginative and gravity-defying structures.

In the weeks leading up to the festival, we designed with artist Marcus Rowlands and families from three schools in Bilborough, a cardboard building “module”. In essence, a box with a “secret corner” that could be popped in to join boxes together at interesting and unpredictable angles.

We've blogged about the project before: You can read more about the process, the event, and catch up on our live blog from the event itself.

We really enjoyed working on this project and are very proud of the results. This is largely down to our brilliant collaborators: Marcus Rowlands, Ruth Lewis-Jones from the Lakeside and — most importantly of all — the children, parents and staff from Portland, Melbury and Brocklewood schools.

Thanks also must go out for the generous support given by the Lakeside Arts Centre, the Arts Council England, Faspak, Staples and Nottingham Education Improvement Partnership.

The Lost Cuckoo this weekend

Thibaut Devulder

2hd and Marcus Rowlands would like to invite you, your family and friends to come and take part in The Lost Cuckoo, an exciting outdoor public art installation.

For the last four months we have been working with families from three schools inthe Bilborough area of Nottingham. Together we have designed a cardboard construction module that can be assembled to build unusual structures and forms. The families will be on hand to share ideas and help with your creations.

This event is part of the International Children’s Theatre and Dance Festival happening at the Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham, on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June from11am to 5pm.

You can download this printable poster to spread the word. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

This project is being supported by the Lakeside Arts Centre, the Arts Council England, Faspak, Staples and Nottingham Education Improvement Partnership.

Sandbox manual

Thibaut Devulder

As part of our submission for the Structures on the Edge competition, we created a fun model sandbox to illustrate the participative construction process for our Stranded installation. We invited the public to interact with the model and to play on a miniature dune, equipped with our scale prototypes of the facetted concrete sculpture and some toy tools.

Of course, we couldn't resist creating a little manual for the sandbox!

2hD in RIBA journal

Thibaut Devulder

A great article on East Midlands regional architecture practice has appeared in the Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects. It features 2hD's Alina Hughes talking about her dual roles in practice and education, and the importance for the region of retaining talented graduates.

The Lost Cuckoo takes flight

Thibaut Devulder

We have started work with artist Marcus Rowlands on the Lost Cuckoo project. Working with families from 3 schools in the Bilborough area of Nottingham, we will collaborate on the design of a bespoke cardboard module or system. This will be used by the families and visitors at the International Children’s Theatre and Dance Festival in the live creation of an interactive community sculpture.

In our first set of workshops we asked families to build with standard cardboard boxes and colourful tapes. They produced an amazing array of sculptures and spaces, pushing the boxes to do the unexpected and giving us plenty of inspiration to start the design of our special module.

Further workshops will run over the months until the Festival, on June 4th and 5th at the Lakeside Arts Centre.

This project is being supported by the Lakeside Arts Centre, the Arts Council England, Faspak and Nottingham Education Improvement Partnership.

Remote model making

Thibaut Devulder

We've just had an exciting collaboration with artist Tristan Hessing on a public art installation for the Lincolnshire coast. Tom and Tristan have been working together in Nottingham to develop the form of the structure, while I was handling the CAD modelling and 3D renders from Belgrade.

As part of the project, we also needed to produce physical models of the faceted shape that Tristan had come up with. With a 3D computer model in Belgrade and a physical model to be built in Nottingham, how to communicate to Tom all the information he needed to quickly fabricate a physical object perfectly matching the numerical one?

The first stage was to check the geometry of the folding pattern with a paper net, which could be printed onto card with our office A3 printer. The Flattery plugin for SketchUp came in handy to explode the facets of the object and generate the tabs to glue the different pieces together. The rather complex geometry required that the net was split into 8 foldable panels, each with a different form.

To simplify the assembly, I colour-coded and labelled the facets and tabs, with some 3D orientation views to explain how the different pieces were meant to be glued together. I emailed Tom a PDF version of this net.

A few hours later, Tom video-conferenced me with the assembled model. So far so good. This paper model would later be spray-painted black and used for one of our models.

We then needed a durable plastic version that could be handled by the public and we called on to the expertise at the workshops at Nottingham Trent University — we both teach there part-time and Tristan is a graduate from their Fine Art school. I generated an STL file from the 3D model and sent it to the workshop, to be fed to their computer controlled milling machine. The idea was to manufacture a strong mould onto which thin plastic versions could be formed by vacuum.

Four hours passed and Tom called me from the workshop with the mould ready, CNC-machined from a solid block of MDF. Nice!

Remote model making

Tom then laboured hard with the workshop team to produce two perfect vacuum-formed plastic shapes. I received the images by email straight from the workshop.

Remote model making

This beats having a 3D printer directly connected to my laptop! Many thanks to the team at the NTU workshops for their expertise and help!

Portfolio project
Stranded: extreme picknicking in the dunes

Tom Hughes

In response to the Structures on the Edge competition, we collaborated with artist Tristan Hessing, of One Thoresby Street, to explore the ambivalent relationship between art and nature conservation. We designed a shifting public art installation on the wild beaches of the Lincolnshire coast, on the theme of extreme picnicking.

The Stranded art installation, slowly eroding within the shifting sand dunes of the Lincolnshire coast

Our chosen site: a fragile dune ecosystem, isolated on a windblown seashore.

Stranded was our shortlisted entry for the 2010 Structures on the Edge art programme, and a distant cousin of our Bathing Beauties competition entry.

The artists’ brief called for small permanent structures in the sand dunes of the Lincolnshire coast that would respond to the wild beauty and harsh environment. Our response was to design an installation for extreme picnicking as a robust response to the rugged nature of the site.

Shifting sands

We decided to make our intervention at a dune crossing point, reinforcing and protecting the dune whilst giving views and shelter for visitors as they move between land and beach. Stranded would be a faceted concrete structure whose shape was derived from the dune surface, but with points raised to provide views and shelter, and others buried beneath the surface to provide foundations. We would see it as a geometric abstraction of the dune landscape, a frozen snapshot of the shifting sands. It might be taken for an archaeological artefact that has been exposed, or is in the process of being covered, by the sands.

Our collaboration with the artist

We found that Tristan shared our approach to understanding the project and our chosen site at Wolla Bank. We took our cameras and tape recorders and had a picnic in the dunes. We talked and sketched and thought, but we also interviewed everyone we could — hikers, families, fishermen, dog walkers, bird watchers.

It became obvious that it was the remoteness and rawness that they appreciated. All of them had visited Wolla Bank many times, and they all praised its quietness and undeveloped nature. Rather than change the place by inserting an icon that would signal development, we decided we should intervene in a strong but subtle way in the landscape.

The making

The process of making Stranded would be intimately connected to these intentions. Creating a mould from the sand of the dune, we would dig out areas of the structure which would be ultimately submerged beneath the ground, and build up areas that would be raised. Finally, we would spray on fibre reinforced concrete to form the structure. The process would be like building a giant sand castle — a hands-on process through which we would engage the local community and visitors.

The exposed concrete areas would collect sand and be blown clean so that the structure would change over time, a process that we would document and that would help to explain the life, mobility and sensitivity of dunes to the visitor.

" 2hD have been committed to delivering the highest standard possible at every opportunity in our collaboration, which is absolutely how it should be and the reason why it has worked so well for all parties.
From our initial shared exploration of the site, they were very engaged with my responses and ideas, responding quickly with visualisations and practical suggestions for the making process. The principle of our collaboration was to understand where our common ground was and how best to pool resources and create design without compromise."

— Tristan Hessing, collaborating artist

Inflatable events space debuts at Lille Museum of Modern Art

Thibaut Devulder

Alina and Thibaut are on site for the official opening of the Lille Museum of Modern Art and have been hard at work seeking opinion on — and taking photographs of — our inflatable event space in the grounds.

French Culture and Communications Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, described it as “very beautiful” during an official tour of the reopened museum yesterday — after diverting from his official route to view the inflatable.

Alina spoke to artist Barbara Gaul (a.k.a. ANNAH), from Düsseldorf, Germany, who said: “The enjoyment with this wonderful pavilion is so great that everyone — despite the summer weather outside — wants to be inside it, and all faces are lit up with joy!

She also spoke to guest Simone Few, who told her: “Not only is it functional but also very sensitive and protective”. Clearly a woman of excellent judgment and, as it turned out, wife of jazz musician Bobby Few.

For more information, see our press release section and our portfolio page about this project.

Event space interior view

Tom Hughes

Our event space for Lille Museum of Modern Art was inflated today — a process that took just 10 minutes. This is the first view of the interior, taken by Thibaut shortly after inflation and uploaded to our Flickr group for this project

Freshly inflated...

Interior view of the curved envelop

There is still a lot to do before the official opening tomorrow, including the installation of flooring, lighting and doors. The team are hard at work... but just two days ago it looked like this:

The whole structure, arriving on site on a small trailer

The whole structure, arriving on site on a small trailer

For more information, see our press release section...

Inflatable event space goes on site

Thibaut Devulder

We have designed an inflatable pavilion for the Museum of Modern Art in Lille, France. The pavilion will house events celebrating the re-opening of the Museum, from 21st to 26th September 2010.

On reopening after more than 4 years of refurbishment and extension, the Museum wanted to hold its celebratory events in a striking alternative to the standard marquee. They called on Thibaut's specialist knowledge of fabric and membrane architecture, and Alina's design flair to come up with the idea for the events pavilion.

Located in the sculpture park at the entrance to the Museum, the pavilion will be the focal point for a week-long programme of events, including the formal opening of the Museum by French Culture and Communications Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, on September 21st. 

The inflatable structure and flexible design mean that the pavilion can be simply depressurised and stored after the celebrations, ready to house future events ranging from theatrical performances to video installations.

The organic shape of the pavilion is meant to stand out from the Museum buildings behind, making it a clear focal point for arriving visitors. It will help to welcome and introduce people to the extended Museum and its huge, exciting collection of Modern art.

Inflatable structures are an excellent way to cover a large area for events. They are more efficient and interesting than traditional tent marquees. The lack of rigid poles gives a clear floor area, they are quick to set up, look fantastic during the event, and then fold away into a tiny storage area.

Designed to hold up to 350 people for events and performances, the pavilion is constructed of lightweight fabric by specialist manufacturer Inflate and was shipped to the Museum site in a single container. 

When pressurised with electric fans the double skinned fabric rapidly deploys to form a rigid but organically-shaped enclosure, covering a space 40m (130 feet) long by 15m (50 feet) at its widest point.

For more information, see our press release section...

Testing our new inflatable pavilion

Thibaut Devulder

We were commissioned last March by the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern Art, in France, to conceive an innovative pavilion to host the ceremonies celebrating the museum’s re-opening after five years of refurbishment and extension works.

Challenging the existing negative paradigm of event tents, we designed a diaphanous inflatable textile structure to create a mesmerising spatial experience for visitors to the Art Museum and a striking backdrop for its high-profile public events.

We have teamed up with Inflate, experienced makers of successful inflatable event structures, to produce the custom-designed pavilion that fitted within the tight budget of the not-for-profit art organisation, while being versatile enough to host the wide spectrum of events envisaged by the museum, from official receptions to dance performances.

We have just received the photos of the first inflation test of the structure at Inflate's workshop and we are quite thrilled! (Images: Inflate)


More on this after the installation of the structure in Lille at the end of September!
Update: for more information about this project, see our press release section and on our portfolio...