Category Archives: Uncategorized

Eisenhower Centre

1406_01_0103_Albert Place 3DProposed view along Alfred Place

In 2014, Studiodare entered a design competition that sought creative proposals to reimagine the Eisenhower Centre, a former deep-level shelter in Chenies Street, Central London. The bunker was the supposed ‘safe’ location for the American President during the Second World War.

The competition remains unjudged. However, during the design process, Studiodare became interested in addressing a more general lack of civic space in the area. In particular, we wanted to assess the benefit of almost entirely removing the Eisenhower Centre from the crescent in which it sits.

The crescent was originally planned at the start of the 19th Century by George Dance the Younger. It forms part of a larger geometric urban composition: two matching semi-circular open spaces bookending a singular connecting street, Alfred Place.

The overall layout remains essentially intact, although the Eisenhower Centre now occupies the centre of the North Crescent; in doing so, it obscures a small First World War memorial and conceals the buildings behind. Conversely, the South Crescent remains undeveloped and enjoys a varied cultural life; not least because the Building Centre, which faces it, often occupies the space for public events.

Proposals
Our proposals relocate the Eisenhower Centre, now a storage archive, to a new basement level, leaving only an entrance and ventilation shafts above ground. This creates a new civic space (to match the South Crescent) whilst also reinstating the original George Dance plan. The war memorial, which now also forms a focal point at the end of Alfred Place, takes on a new civic status and becomes a suitable place for remembrance services.

VIEW Chenies StreetProposed view along Chenies Place

The new ventilation shafts and entrance of the Eisenhower Centre are clad in polished stainless steel and reflect a cluster of metallic masts that are placed around them. The masts, which blur the perception of mass, both conceal the shafts and reveal the North Crescent in a shifting moiré pattern. At night the mast tips are illuminated creating an animated nocturnal sculpture.

By thinking of the urban composition as a whole, we began to think of Alfred Place as a public space in itself: a rus in urbe, connecting the two crescents. The new masts, acting as lighting bollards and banners, therefore continue through a new urban park between the crescents. This renewed public space should also stimulate economic activity in the buildings along the street, whose ground floor spaces currently appear lifeless.

We believe that public space should respond to the needs of people, not to the functional requirements of infrastructure services such as the existing deep level shelter. However, working in the infrastructure sector over the last 6 years, our experience tells us that a reversal of these priorities isn’t always easy. Nonetheless, it was thinking about people that allowed us to examine the removal of the Eisenhower Centre and reimagine Alfred Place as a genuine civic space (and forest!).

14 07 03_Axonometric close viewProposed aerial view

Stuart McKenzie, 2015

Britain’s Future Home 2013

Sunday Times Competition Shortlisted Project

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Studiodare’s sustainable concept design, Triptech House, has been shortlisted for the British Homes Awards, organised by the Sunday Times.

As the name suggests, Triptech House is split into three elements: a large atrium exploiting daylight and adding visual drama; a central core containing all the building’s services; and adaptable living spaces, which can be customised easily by the building occupant.

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Flexibility has been placed at the heart of our design. In particular, we are conscious that people’s needs change and that their house should be able to do so too. Therefore, without altering its exterior, this house can be a large family home, be converted into smaller apartments, or even include a separate office.

studiodare-triptech house8

The winning design will be chosen by the public. http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/british_homes_awards/

Northern Line Extension to Battersea

ViewNine Elms2

As lead architect on a Halcrow led multi-disciplinary team, Studiodare Architects has completed designs for two new underground stations and two mid-line ventilation shafts on the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea.

The designs have now been incorporated in a Transport and Works Act Order and submitted for approval to the Secretary of State for Transport.
View1 Battersea
This significant milestone builds on Studiodare’s ongoing role as lead architect on the Northern line Extension, which began with the original Feasibility Study in 2008.GRNLEB-SDA-ST-XX-DR-ARC-41211-02-01

New York Trip

The Fire Escape:
The prevalence of the fire escape in New York has made it an intrinsic part of the architecture of the street. They exist to evacuate residents in an emergency, their very presence borne out of city regulations and safety concerns. Despite this, they provide something more enduring and special, enjoyed by tourists and occupants.

House in Buffalo:
House built to accommodate workers from the now long since abandoned steel factories, it is still standing and occupied though much of the surrounding landscape has been flattened.

text and drawings by Stuart McKenzie

Beaumont Road: Building Completion

The seven residential units we designed at Beaumont Road in Chiswick have just been completed and are on the market – open viewing days are now taking place.

The client is very happy with the project, particularly Studiodare’s ability to make the most of this landlocked site.

The Site & Design:
Like many urban sites, because of the potential for overlooking, windows were not permitted on three edges of the site. The design, therefore, had to find creative solutions to allow as much light into the houses as possible. To achieve this, we carefully positioned rooflights in each of the houses, letting light deep into the plans. In the single-aspect houses at the rear of the site, a full width lightwell was also placed along the back wall.

Contrary to many developer housing projects, we also placed emphasis on maximizing the opportunities for storage throughout, avoiding any redundant space. Cupboards, shelves and bookcases are built into walls, also reducing the need for additional furniture.

Stuart McKenzie

Southern India, Part 1: ‘A Cup of Tea’

Last month I was lucky to enough to embark on a journey to Southern India. The journey unveiled stunning landscapes. Thousand of year old ancient temples sit among the array of banana, king coconut and jackfruit trees.

Kerala is known to locals as “God’s Own Country” and it is easy to see why. The lush green mountains are carpeted with tea plants and almost no space is left uncovered. Hindu temples, churches and colourful modest houses sprawling within these valleys occasionally break this sea of tea.

The process of making tea

The tea-pickers, an array of colourfully dressed women set out in the early hours of the morning down the winding lanes to pluck fresh leaves. They would then walk to the tea factory, which is equipped with machines imported from Belfast and Birmingham, since all the first tea plantations were owned by the British.

The women place their loads onto large dryers, which blow out warm air. Once the fresh green leaves are withered and browned, they travel down a shoot for a process called CCT, crushing, curling and tearing. This is when the start of the tea process really begins. Once the CCT process is complete, the end product resembles coarse soil.

The next step is fermentation. After fermentation the tea is dried again at 195F. This is the final step before the tea is packed, ready for the auction houses.

by Trisha Chauhan

Forgotten Spaces 2011, Bee Project.

Studiodare’s ‘Bee Project’ has been shortlisted for Forgotten Spaces, 2011.This competition, organised by the RIBA, calls for architects and designers to think up new uses for neglected spaces in the Greater London area.

Our site is a 10m wide easement to a Thames Water ring main in Neasden, in the London Bor­ough of Brent. Triangulated by Neasden, Willesden and Cricklewood, the site runs through the Cricklewood Pumping Station. Originally constructed by the Met­ropolitan Water Authority, both the pumping station and ring main served an area of London stretching from the Thames to Hampstead.

The proposal itself is a combined urban park, ‘agroforest’ and bee-keeping apiary, which promotes a mutual dependency between the community and eco-system; it is a diversified growing system based on perennial crops, such as fruit bearing trees, plants and herbs. The urban park is achieved by carefully selecting, sculpting and arranging these crops to create vistas and frame views.

It is democratic and open; it can be enjoyed as a park for recreational purposes, an educational facility for school children and the unemployed, an activity for pensioners or a business for community organisations.

Highlighting our dependency on bees and the delicate nature of our ecosystem is central to the main idea. This is celebrated in the design of the beehives, which are constructed on an elevated plinth, providing focal points within the landscaped garden as well as protection against the colony.

Bee Project is designed to be ‘extendable’. Through community engagement, the project offers the potential to create an economic market for the exchange of produce, such as fruits, jams or honey. Produce is exchanged through a ‘farmers’ market and could link to similar other initiatives within neighbouring communities.

Encouraged by our shortlisting, we look forward to developing this proposal in more detail. We are also actively exploring opportunities to introduce the concept to a number of sites across London, taking it to local communities and key stakeholders.

Stuart McKenzie

The Adventurer Came Calling

In late 2006, we were asked to consider an unusual project; a new house on the beach in Morocco. How can you refuse of course, but in reality a project with an extremely limited budget. Construction costs and design fees were hopelessly inadequate (Mark won’t mind me saying this) but the idea was compelling, so Justine and I jumped on a plane and set off on what has become a 5 year journey.

Mark Anstice, explorer, adventurer, documentary television film maker & writer had bought the site, almost on the beach, in Moulay Bouzergtoun, close to Essaouira, the fabled ‘windy’ town on Morocco’s west coast, as celebrated by Hendrix, Stones and other musos of that era.

On site we were blown away by the sheer wonder of such a building plot, 130m x 50m sloping towards the sea. Met a local builder, spent a couple of days looking at construction, design and philosophy in the area; had a few nice tagine dish meals as well!

We were to use local materials; timber, stone gathered up from the site, the wonderful ‘tadilac’ render and importantly we were to use local labour and skills.

Maximum spans of 4.5m using the local un-sawn timbers set up the scale; random rubble walls, stone arches, no lintols and definitely no mechanical devices; no electricity at this point but simply a donkey for carrying the stones. A well, mansized,30m deep, was sunk; without water it would have been a non-starter (no mains) and Mark was off and running.

Slowly the shell rose from the ground, ably assisted by the donkey and supervised by goats. Mainly single storey (with a bit of two), a ‘tower’, several courtyards and five guest rooms, (Mark has ideas about running a wind/kite surfing school at some stage) the building now had a name ‘The Serai’ (Palace,Inn, peaceful haven).

The latest message from Mark, shows him and his new wife Ayelen, living in a partially completed building, some windows glazed, three habitable rooms, outside loo, tower bedroom and the beginnings of the tadillac render adding a bit of finish. The garden which is beginning to emerge, has terraces in honey coloured stone walls, and will eventually provide vegetables to compliment the ‘haggled for’ fish from the neighbour.

The project was and still is fascinating, and has cemented my commitment to using local, natural materials, local skills and traditional techniques. The harmony with the site, surroundings and environment is so evidently obvious. Lets think on that.

Footnote: the North African building techniques used in the Moroccan house are very similar to the examples of traditional construction that impressed me in my time in Nigeria in the ‘70s, I’ve got the books! but that is for another story or another blog.

By Ian Logan