2hD Director Chris Heuvel appointed RIBA Fellow

Tom Hughes

Our director Chris Heuvel is one of only 15 architects to be awarded Royal Institute of British Architects Fellow status in the 2018 list. The RIBA says of the award that "Fellow Membership gives us the opportunity to recognise our inspirational Chartered Members, the sometimes unsung heroes of the profession, who have made a real contribution to architecture, and the community."


Chris' full citation reads as follows:

"Chris is a Director at 2hD Architecture Workshop and a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), where he delivers the professional practice elements of both the undergraduate and postgraduate architectural programmes, in addition to acting as Professional Studies Advisor for students in practice. He also runs the Design Studio module followed by first year undergraduates.

Chris champions architectural education as an integral aspect of professional practice, and is currently undertaking a major research project on behalf of NTU into how practitioners’ engagement with their local communities can be compatible with their business development objectives. All his teaching is substantially informed by a lifetime of active involvement in community engagement projects – previously in Norfolk and now in Nottingham, where (in conjunction with 2hD Ltd) he is currently helping a local group develop a business plan for the revival of their recently closed community centre."

Congratulations Chris, the recognition is thoroughly well deserved!

Can architectural skills help save a local landmark?

Tom Hughes

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:

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 

Tom & Chris working on NTU research project

Tom Hughes

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

Chris Heuvel

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

2hD director Chris Heuvel (left) with the speaker from Assemble, Lewis Jones (right)

2hD director Chris Heuvel (left) with the speaker from Assemble, Lewis Jones (right)

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

Tom Hughes

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.

Chris' doctorate research proposal accepted by NTU

Chris Heuvel

Further to our social sustainability ethos, we want to learn more about how we can grow as a practice as a result of (rather than in spite of) our involvement in community engagement activities.

This topic has been recognised by Nottingham Trent University School of Architecture as a suitable subject for investigation within the context of their professional doctorate programme, and Chris has therefore been developing a formal research proposal since the beginning of January.

Chris would welcome any correspondence on this subject: please read his Practice and Community blog and email him with your comments or suggestions.

Alina at the East Centric Architecture Triennale

Tom Hughes

Alina is in Bucharest this week at the invitation of the East Centric Architecture Triennale — where she has presented her shortlisted entry for the Essay Contest. The jury was chaired by renowned Finnish architect and theorist Juhani Pallasmaa.

Her entry, titled 'Conservation Versus Modernisation in Romania  — Through the Lens of Transylvania's Saxon Villages', has been published in the Architext book 'A World of Fragments: Essays on East and Central European Architecture'.

It is part of her ongoing research at Nottingham Trent University into these fascinating historic villages and the controversy surrounding their conservation by foreign agencies.


LaM article in the TensiNet newsletter

Thibaut Devulder

We have just received a copy of the latest newsletter from TensiNet, the European network for the design and realisation of tensile structures. This issue features an article about our award-winning inflatable pavilion for the Lille Museum of Modern Art (LaM).

The curvature of our double-skin inflatable structure, for the Lille Museum of Modern Art

Nice to be involved with the TensiNet people again. It's been a long time since I co-authored the chapter on the environmental design of tensile structures, in the European Design Guide for Tensile Surface Structures they published in 2004.

Portfolio project
iHub competition

Thibaut Devulder

This joint entry project, involving 2hD, Boden Associates and Shared Design, provides a beacon for projecting creative thought through a strong formal and spatial presence, connected with the surrounding canal, road and cycle routes and characterised by a light ecological touch.

The Heart of the iHub: a brightly coloured conference theatre in the social exhibition space

This Building Research Establishment (BRE) competition called for an innovative hub and office building to link centres of excellence in the built environment with entrepreneurial business in order to promote innovative and sustainable technologies. Submitted designs were also encouraged to connect the local town community with the building and its agenda of sustainability and innovation.

The brightly-clad conference theatre pod sits within a highly flexible and dramatically-lit exhibition space, which in turn acts as the activity heart and connective node of the complex. The greened roof above the exhibition hall innovatively reconfigures the site topography providing a new habitat for local ecosystems and driving the natural ventilation inside. 

For this competition entry, we extensively used storyboarding techniques to communicate the social dynamics of our proposal. In particular, we presented the way the public would experience the spaces, from the dual perspectives of two fictional characters meeting at iHub: Tony, a resident innovative builder, and Deborah, a potential investor visiting the centre.

Our key achievements in this project:

  • establishing the right level and pattern of connections with the local town
  • distilling the client’s main values needing to be addressed in the project
  • establishing the relational logic of the set of activities to be accommodated
  • determining a fundamental and innovative sustainability strategy
  • marrying sustainability aims with an exciting experience of visiting or working in the building