Portfolio project
Self-build house on a Norwegian hillside

Thibaut Devulder

The single-family house we designed on a hillside of Eidsvoll, in Norway, is now under construction by our self-builder client. Created as two wings intersecting with the landscape, the design reconciled our clients' wishes for both discrete privacy and openness to the surrounding woodlands.

Sketch impression of the house with its two intersecting wings, from which the terraces cascade into the forest

Moving out of their current undersized house in the same town, the family wanted to settle on one of the plots owned by the family (we helped the client masterplan this area back in 2011). The plot is situated on an ideally oriented hillside with woodlands at its doorstep and great views to the surrounding countryside.

We designed the family house to clearly separate public spaces receiving visitors (including a small home office) and the more private parts of the house. These two realms are organised in separate wings, articulated by two intersecting gables. At this intersection, an open atrium links the two levels and a sheltered outdoor porch opens up towards the adjacent woodlands to the south-west, stepping down into the landscape through a series of cascading terraces.

Interior view of the atrium, at the intersection of the two wings (Photo @ Caroline Prøven Brohaug)

The external form of the house also responded to the height restrictions of the local planning rules and the steep site slope. Despite the site steepness, the house benefits from a full wheelchair access to all key functions of the home.

Privacy from the existing neighbouring apartment building (also owned by the client) was preserved by vertical timber fins along the facade, framing the views and giving a common vocabulary to the different elevations.

Foundation and groundworks are almost completed and the timber superstructure (insulated with natural cellulose fibres) will be completed before the first snow, at the end of November.

Weaving space: student exhibition

Tom Hughes

Alina and I are leading the Vertical Studio module this year at Nottingham Trent University, as part of the MArch (Masters in Architecture) course. It's a 10 week design studio delivered to both cohorts of the MArch course, aimed at bringing in practitioners with a particular set of approaches, whilst introducing new students to NTU and preparing final year students for their major dissertation projects.

We've decided to build the studio around the notion of weaving — both as an approach to understanding one way of making structure and space and as an analogy for the multi-stranded assemblage of information, knowledge and ideas that go into an architectural design project.

The site we've chosen is what we've termed an 'urban appendix' — a former thoroughfare truncated by the building of Victoria Station in Nottingham, and then overshadowed by its replacement, the Victoria Centre. This unloved backwater will be stiched back into the urban fabric by housing a dressmaker's shop, design studio and workshop.

During the first week the students were set the ambitious target of putting on an exhibition of exploratory models. Following visits to Kula Tsurdiu (acting as client) and the NTU textiles exhibition and weaving workshops, the students investigated techniques of stitching, pleating, weaving and fusing to create their models. It was great to see a lot of careful investigation and reckless experimentation coming together in a short space of time — the students really responded to the challenge and we look forward to seeing their designs develop over the coming weeks.

Portfolio project
Walker House remodel

Thibaut Devulder

The existing house

Our clients are now finalising the site work on our remodel of their home in Eidsvoll, Norway.

We were originally approached by the clients in 2011, to reorganise a family house that has become overcrowded for their family of five and — more importantly — to create a modern comfortable home they would be proud of.

The clients' brief

The model of the surveyed house

Already extended once, this house was in fact spacious enough for the family. Yet the existing layout made poor use of the internal space: stiffly compartmenting into disconnected rooms, the floor plans created several "dead areas" on key locations of the three levels, which were mostly left unused by its inoccupants or barely used for storage.

The existing services were obsolete and poorly placed — with no bathroom on the ground floor for instance — and the clients were eager to upgrade the building fabric and technical installations as part of the remodelling exercise. Summer overheating and noise from the increasing overhead airport traffic were particularly problematic.

Conscious that their three teenage sons would be soon leaving the family home, the parents were also willing to remodel the house so that the upper floor could easily be isolated from their accessible quarters on the ground floor in the coming years, to be rented out to tenants with minimum additional work.

All these had to be address with minimum alterations to the exterior of the building, to fit the budget and the local planning rules.

Unlocking the flow

After a detailed survey of the existing house, we identified key factors breaking the flow through the house. These were tackled by a series of strategic moves that could unlock the potential of the space in a cost effective way. At the core of the approach was to clarify the organisation of public and private spaces, and how these flowed into one another.

A few key changes to the internal building fabric allowed us to both connect the spaces for greater flexibility in use (to host large family events, for instance) and respond to the need for privacy between the different parts of the house.

 Creating an experience

Altering the floor plans was the first move to transform this home. We extended this approach to carefully select interior materials and light fittings, to suggest and emphasize the new relationships between the spaces.

Entering the house, the visitor is drawn further into the spaces by a series of focal points revealing themselves progressively from different viewpoints as the house is explored, linking the social spaces and the large garden outdoors.

Improving comfort

The timber structure was fully re-insulated internally, using high density natural wood fibre insulation to improve all year round thermal comfort and dampen external noise. Comfort was further improved by replacing the existing windows with hi-spec new low-energy and noise reduction glazing.

With minimal changes to the existing drainage system, two new family bathrooms and a guest toilet were added to the ground and first floors. Connected to a new centralised ventilation system, they dramatically improve indoor air quality in a quiet and energy efficient way.

Working in close collaboration with the clients, with their in-depth knowledge of every corner of the house and the way it was constructed, allowed very detailed design and planning of all the alterations, while keeping building costs low.

Low energy house, high quality space

Tom Hughes

Over the bank holiday I dropped in to see how the clients for our low energy house are getting on. They've been in residence for a good few months now and it was great to see the house in operation as a home.

The property is going to be open to visitors as part of the programme of tours arranged during September 2013 by West Bridgford Eco Houses- if you want to visit check out their blog post about the house.

All the energy saving features are behaving well, although it is too early yet to get statistical feedback on performance. The basic principle is to make good use of passive solar gains from the south and trap the heat in the the high thermal mass of the building, inside a highly insulated jacket. Overheating is prevented by the thermal mass, which evens out temperature highs and lows, and by effective use of shading on the south facing windows. The other important factor is to control drafts, and the build quality here is exceptionally good.

The really gratifying thing to see was that the house is working well as a home for our clients- it's clearly a comfortable, welcoming and relaxed place to live.

Portfolio project
Storgata interiors

Thibaut Devulder

As part of their remodelling and refurbishment of a large office building in downtown Oslo into the new Olympiagården project, Various Architects — with whom we are sharing an office — invited us to work with them on the detailed design of interior furniture for their design of the future Lederne Headquarters.

Concept development for stacked wood partitions

Various Architects' design included a series of large timber partitions that would integrate seating, services and storage. Articulating the new refurbished office space in a playful and subtle manner, these interior elements were to create a unifying visual and functional concept for the large open plan office.

Their design and positioning were to weave social spaces to create spots for impromptu social interactions, but also help subtly define more private areas for focused work and conceal the services and air conditionning system. Other furniture such as the reception desk and work spaces, were also to be custom-made in a similar fashion.

Image © Various Architects

Image © Various Architects

Based on their brief we developed a series of design concepts playing on the idea of the massiveness of stacked timber elements, with their textures contrasting with the existing concrete structure of the building. These concepts were developed with Various Architects, in consultation with a number of joinery companies specialised in custom-made office fittings, that gave us feedback during the design stage, to make sure that budget and technical constraints would be met.

We then finalised the detailed design of the timber elements and prepared a series of concept and technical drawings that were incorporated to the tender package for the project.

The refurbishment and fittings of the Lederne Headquarters is now on site. As with our collaboration on the Aalto Campus competition, it has been a pleasure working with Various Architects and we are looking forward to collaborating with them again on exciting projects!

New light filled heart to a 1920s home

Tom Hughes

Our strategic approach to the remodel of a 1920s home was to carve out a new space at the centre- relinking areas of the house that for reasons of class had originally been divided into servant and served.

Into this void would go a contemporary stair, a strong element in its own right but designed to direct space- creating important spatial links and sightlines.

The existing stained-glass steel framed window to the south elevation remains in place, pouring light into the new heart of the house.

Lost Cuckoo workshop at NTU

Thibaut Devulder

Furthering our exploration and experiments using the cardboard module developed for the Lost Cuckoo project, Marcus Rowlands and 2hD Architects ran two "lectures" at Nottingham Trent University.

Images by Marcus Rowlands and Matthew Mouncey

With the participation of staff and students from the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, and in a lecture hall setting. This was, however, not your standard lecture format: the starting point was for each person to build a module, then to team up and build an assembly, and finally to bring everything together to create a space-within-a-space... in which the 'lecture' would happen.

Video by 2hD

A living-room in a children's home

Tom Hughes

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the making. I spent Sunday volunteering at the site of our Childrens' Home project, helping them to get the building phase of their Living Room project underway.

The shared living room, before we started

It's been a fascinating project to be involved in. We were approached by The Mighty Creatives who were looking for someone who could work with the staff and residents at the Home to redesign their living room, making use of IT to communicate and visualise the process. In the end, we used StickyWorld and SketchUp with the LightUp plug-in… and if we could have found another software with a JoinedUp name, we'd have considered that too.

It's a tiny but intense project, and I found the design process really challenging. Working on occupied houses is always pretty involved, as being invited into the home requires a great deal of sensitivity to residents' preferences and relationships. At the same time, your own knowledge and experience as 'the professional' needs to be given a voice. As you'd imagine this particular living space is charged with a lot of meaning for many different people... But, by working together, we gradually achieved a design that everyone could take pride in.

The idea is that as much of the making work as possible is done by the staff and residents of the home, but I invited myself along on Sunday to lend a hand as they got underway. The electrian had already been in to do the first fix, so the next stage was setting out the studwork for the 'portal' feature, the lighting raft and the storage/entertainment wall. We made pretty good progress- a bit slowed by the effort of breaking up the world's densest fireplace hearth, but by the end of the day the design was beginning to pop off the page and in to the space. I loved being there to see this happen and hope to be back again as the project progresses.

In the meantime, we made a little film to celebrate the success of the collaborative design, and keep spirits up during the hard messy work ahead:

Living Room Project from 2hD Architecture Workshop on Vimeo.

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.

Portfolio project
A pavilion for a Museum of Modern Art

Tom Hughes

2hD were commissioned by the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern Art (LaM) 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.

The pavilion at dawn, against the rectilinear backdrop of the museum (Photo: Yves Morfouace)

The pavilion's diaphanous inflatable skin

Our collaboration with LaM started in March 2010, when the museum invited us to submit ideas for an event structure to host up to 350 people for large scale events, ranging from official receptions to dance performances.

Excited by our proposal of a large scale inflatable structure but unsure about its feasibility, the museum initially commissioned us to produce a comprehensive study covering all relevant aspects of feasibility, including the erection process, structural modularity, internal micro-climate, functional analysis, budget simulations and health & safety.

We then teamed up with Inflate, experienced makers of successful inflatable event structures, to produce a custom-designed pavilion that was versatile enough to host the wide spectrum of events envisaged by the museum and that fitted within the tight budget of this not-for-profit art organisation.

Complementing the orthogonal lines and hard materials of the existing buildings and the urban park surrounding them, the lightweight translucent envelope and organic lines define a transient space between the park’s outdoors and the museum itself, welcoming and orienting visitors in their exploration of the extensive art collections. The pavilion also acknowledges and creates a playful dialogue with the many large-scale modern sculptures inhabiting the museum grounds.

The pavilion is designed to adapt to a wide range of future uses, from public reception to theatre performance.

The structure was first installed in September 2010 to host thousands of visitors for the week long opening festivities. Beyond this, the pavilion will also provide a flexible and iconic new space to host the wide variety of future events to be held on the museum grounds, ranging from theatre performance to public lectures and outdoor interactive video installations.

Press releases and high-resolution images suitable for publications are also available in our press section.

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!
Barbara Gaul, invited artist from Düsseldorf


This pavilion received an architecture award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) East Midlands in the Out of Region category, in September 2011.

This project has also been shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Award 2011.

At night, the integrated lighting system transformed the structure into a beacon, softly glowing in the park.

At night, the integrated lighting system transformed the structure into a beacon, softly glowing in the park.

Portfolio project
A painter's studio and home office

Tom Hughes

After retiring from his career as a journalist, our client needed additional space at home and asked us to design a new art studio that could also be used as an office for his freelance work. Our design was Highly Commended by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The studio provides an ideal environment for focused work while establishing a strong relationship with the garden.

This is the kind of project that is set for architecture students as a way of exploring space, light, and client needs, but few get the chance to actually make such a building later in their careers.

Primarily, the need was for space to focus on his artistic endeavours as a painter, but also to allow for freelance home working. This gave us the chance to design for excellent daylight quality and a quiet, contemplative, single person space.

An interesting aspect of this project was that the client had already chosen a local craftsmen builder, so we were able to collaborate from an early stage to achieve an exciting design with confidence that it could be built. The unusual design of the roof and structure, necessary to achieve the quality of space and light that we wanted, pushed the builder into some unfamiliar territory, but he responded with some excellent craftsmanship and produced a building of which he and the client are very proud.

The studio is carefully placed to complete the layout of the garden and to make best use of natural light and views out. The interior space is dramatic for such a small building, but it also has a cosy and relaxed feel, supporting long periods of focused creative work. The building is very well insulated with a small woodburning stove, used only in the coldest times, to provide all the heating needs.

This project has been Highly Commended at the RIBA East Midlands Awards 2009!

Sketches were an essential communication tool throughout the design process, from the early briefing with our client to the discussion of construction details on site with the builders

Our client was delighted with the thermal comfort and the quality of natural light in his new studio

As a freelance journalist and amateur painter I wanted a flexible working space set apart from the house, with a district personality that would, nevertheless, not clash with the village setting. 2hD’s proposals fulfilled my checklist and the practice worked intelligently with us and our builder to realise these ambitions.

The studio is a real joy. Being flooded with natural light and with high levels of insulation, it uses little energy. I seldom turn on the lights, even on the gloomiest of days, and the stove is only lit occasionally, as the building keeps a regular temperature throughout the year.
Michael Hughes, client and user