Hands on.

Following up on my first blog post and I am sat here still pondering on what to write and how often to write. I am in the office working away on some visuals for a public consultation and it makes me wonder how many of my university friends have been to a public consultation yet. That opens up a door to many more thoughts about office life and the year out method that seems to be the normality of architectural education. I’ll leave most of them thoughts for later posts.

However, some friends of mine managed to get themselves involved with an incredibly exciting and interesting lifestyle of off grid living, working for a group with an intriguing DIY ethos. They work for Hill Holt Design Group.

Woodland Community Centre. Credit: designhhw

I decided to write about this as it ties in nicely with Handmade and a little bit of work envy does creep in, despite my utmost strength to resist conceding the fact that they have had a better work experience than me. Anyway, the stories that I have been told sound great, and my friends have thoroughly enjoyed their year out and that is fantastic news. The work that they produce is not only designed by them, they actually create their own self builds and their first task was to design and construct their log cabin accommodation on site, off grid in the middle of the wood. The office that they work in is all self built, year upon year their own little wood campus increases and year long students leave their physical mark with a new structure that they have produced. What a great way to begin your career in architecture.

Wyville Sensory Garden. Credit: designhhw

I find this kind of architecture fascinating, along with self build community projects and timber built structures and natural materials. I believe that is what makes architecture, what deserves to be called architecture. Some mass produced buildings in my view don’t deserve to be called architecture and that is the problem with money driven, computer generated regurgitation. It just goes to show, that starting up a practice shouldn’t be about getting in your fees, it should be about creating work that interests you and your colleagues. Hill Holt Design started by creating accommodation for themselves using alternative technologies and now they have a mixture of clients from local authorities, schools, businesses and private clients and undertakes work varying from small scale new-builds to commercial projects.



World famous architect, and one of my all time favourite contemporary architects has made headlines in recent weeks for his comments at a preview event for the Venice Biennale 2016. Peter Zumthor suggested that the main theme to emerge from the works this year reflect a resurgence in hand made architecture, a return to the crafts. He elaborates further and explains that the computer is just a slave.

To read the article in full, follow the link below.

Venice Biennale heralds return of handmade architecture, says Peter Zumthor

Zumthor gives his thoughts on the 2016 Venice Biennale. Credit: Dezeen

In the interview with dezeen, The Therme Vals architect mentioned how many designers seem to be appreciating craft and take enjoyment out of the assembly process. I have noticed a little bit of retaliation from some people online about his comments, after all the introduction of CAD has enabled architects all over the world to effectively and efficiently produce buildings for clients on a quicker scale and smaller budget. However, you really do have to ask the questions of the humility and honesty of such buildings which in my opinion add to the quality of architecture.

Describing computers as slaves may be a poor choice of wording on Zumthor’s part, despite this I am more inclined to agree with his point. In architecture school we were always encouraged to hand draw our conceptual ideas and developing the design, and that the computer should be regarded as a tool to assist the presentation of final output for communication purposes. Sketching can be scrappy, but it can help to develop a design much quicker than CAD – at that stage of the process, being a little bit rough around the edges in presentation and more concentrated in producing interesting, considered and convincing design skills will, in my view, result in well thought out architecture rather than a building.