Tuesday 8 December 2009

3D Visualisation...

This is just a taste of what this 3D visualisation company can create, though this pales in comparison to some of their other work that can be seen in a video on their website homepage where the graphic presentation of the built environment is stunning.


Friday 6 November 2009

Big Kids Toys...

Lego have created a series of ‘Architecture’ models comprised of the Landmark Series and the Architect Series which currently includes two of the greatest works by the brilliant Frank Lloyd Wright. Grown up Lego, not that we oldies ever needed an excuse to play with Lego, but now we are “creative” and don’t just look like big kids.

Here’s the sucker punch...these sets are only available at the moment in the USA and Lego can’t tell me when they will be available in the UK. However, to soften the blow, the company that collaborated with Lego on the sets, called ‘Brick Structures’, do ship internationally. Yeh!



Tuesday 27 October 2009

Art & Skiing...

As winter draws ever nearer my thoughts are drawn to Christmas 2008 and skiing in Flaine, France. http://www.flaine.com/en/index.php

Flaine is located in the Haute-Savoie region, close to Geneva and Mont-Blanc. The resort of Flaine was created in the 60s by Eric and Sylvie Boissonnas, lovers of modern art and classical music. The primary directive of Flaine was to create in France a prototype of architecture, town planning and design, based on aesthetic choices and on environmental protection . The Architect of Flaine was Marcel Breuer, a boss of Bauhaus, born in Pécs in Hungary in 1902, died in 1981 in New York.

We stayed in the newest addition to the community, an apartment block called Les Terrasses d'Eos, a ski –in, ski-out development, which was constructed by Intrawest, a world leader in destination resorts. http://www.flaine-montsoleil.com/en/discover/

Psst...I’m in the last promotional picture on the website...just (picture below)...I’m in the red jacket preparing for a day on the slopes!

Monday 26 October 2009

Simple Flyby...

A 2-storey extension to the front of a dwelling in the village of Willand, Devon. This simple flyby was created in a couple of hours to demonstrate to the the local planning authority the effect of the extension on neighbouring properties. Whilst it may appear a little crude, it clearly demonstrates the 3D form in a highly effective manner.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Land, Sea + Air...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say, but I am sure that few could deny that the Icon A5 Aircraft is stunning and classifies itself as a sports plane in much the same way we have sports cars. I don't usually post this sort of thing but good design comes in many forms. This 2-person aircraft is capable of water, as well as a ground take off and landing with wings that can fold to the side in under five minutes. I think this is a wonderful contribution to the design world and frankly wouldn't be out of place in a Bond movie.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Sixth Form Common Room...

Newly refurbished sixth form common room at Sherrardswood School in Welwyn Hertfordshire by Gardiner Design Associates, in association with R. Taylor Design Associates.

"The project took six weeks from a bare shell to hand over and comprises a newly formed IT suite, tutorial room and open area with cafe and soft seating break out areas. Furnishing is a careful selection of Herman Miller, Allermuir and IKEA and modern energy saving architectural lighting by Concord. A simple blend of Marley vinyl flooring and cord carpet pulls the scheme neatly together. The partitioning with fully glazed panels and full height doors, is beautiful RAL finished frame system with integrated fine blinds. The building creates a healthy and inspiring teaching establishment which the students and teaching staff will all benefit from". [http://wwwgardinerdesign.blogspot.com/]

Extensions and Planning Permission...

Under new regulations that came into effect on 1 October 2008 an extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
  • More than half the area of land around the "original house"* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres beyond the rear wall for an attached house and four metres beyond the rear wall for a detached house.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres beyond the rear wall including ground floor.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
  • On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
  • On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
  • On designated land no side extensions.

* The term "original house" means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you may not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.

* Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

Building Regulations...

  • Most extensions of properties require approval under the Building Regulations.
  • There are a number of classes of new buildings or extensions of existing buildings that do not need Building Regulations approval, i.e. are exempt from the Regulations.

Thursday 9 July 2009

ITV Meridian Newsroom, Southampton...

Lighting design and spacial planning for new news studio including break-out area and reception by Gardiner Design Associates, in association with R. Taylor Design Associates.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

New corporate offices, Hertfordshire...

Interior design and lighting design by Gardiner Design Associates, in association with R. Taylor Design Associates, for UK head office of a pharmaceutical company.
Storage wall solutions.

Office development, Oxfordshire...

Interior lighting design and office partitioning by Gardiner Design Associates, in association with R. Taylor Design Associates, for the Gascoyne Cecil Estate.

Office development, Loughton, Essex...

Interior 3-D representations. Generic office layout, demonstrating the potential for the building layout. Gardiner Design Associates in association with R Taylor Design Associates.

Italian Restaurant, Hertfordshire...

Exterior 3-D generated representations. Proposal for an extension to the existing Terranova Restaurant, Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City. Gardiner Design Associates in association with R Taylor Design Associates.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Party Wall Matters...often forgotten...

People often find that implementing the Party Wall Act can be frustrating and expensive. It is not unusual for a building project to be delayed by a couple of months and surveyor's fees to run to a couple of thousand pounds just for the Party Wall aspect on what might be considered to be a fairly straight forward alteration to a domestic property. You should not need to consider Party Wall Matters at this stage, more so when the Building Regulations plans have been prepared and at least one to two months prior to works commencing on site. 

The Party Wall Act requires you to serve notice on any neighbours that may be affected by your planned works at least one months in advance depending upon which type of notice it is. The first decision you have to make to be made is whether to serve the notice yourself or get a Party Wall Surveyor to do it for you. There are no prescribed forms for the notice so there is no reason why you should not do it yourself although if you are going to be appointing a surveyor later it would be better to get them to serve the notice as well. 

This decision would be much easier if you knew in advance whether or not your neighbour was planning to consent. It is always a good idea to smooth the way by giving your neighbour a copy of the plans at least a week or two before serving the official notice. Take the plans round personally and explain the parts of the work which will affect their property. Include my office number in case they have any technical questions. Having received full details of the work your neighbour should / may be able to tell you whether or not they will consent before you serve the notice; although they might wish to consult their own surveyor before making any response.

Even if you receive verbal consent at this stage, you still need to serve the notice and obtain written consent. To be helpful, there's no reason why you could not write a consent letter which your neighbour can just sign but you need to make sure that your neighbour understands what you are planning to do and what they are signing.

If your neighbour consents then that is the end of the matter as far as The Party Wall Act is concerned although to protect yourself you may wish to arrange for a schedule to be taken on their property to identify its existing condition. This will ensure that any existing defects are recorded and not wrongly attributed to your work later.

If your neighbour chooses not to consent in writing then the next decision to be made is whether one or two surveyors are appointed. Under Section 10, the Act allows for an 'Agreed Surveyor' and you are free to put forward my name for your neighbours consideration although you should not put any pressure on them to concur in his appointment.

What often happens is that your neighbour neither consents in writing nor dissents but just ignores your notice. The Act states that if your neighbour does not consent within 14 days they are deemed to have dissented and must appoint a surveyor.

This is problematic as a neighbour who has ignored your notice is unlikely to then spring in to action and appoint a surveyor and the Act recognises this and provides a solution; you must follow-up your original notice with a reminder letter giving your neighbour a further 10 days to make an appointment following which you can appoint a surveyor on their behalf.

Having done everything correctly yourself and your neighbour having done nothing you would think that you could appoint me as 'Agreed' and save yourself a few pounds but unfortunately the Act states that the adjoining owner has a right to their own surveyor unless they agree otherwise. 

Fees are also an issue that can cause friction, surveyors can charge anything between £700 and £1300. Under the Act it is the surveyors that decide who pays their fees although in all normal circumstances, that will be the party planning the work which is only fair as your neighbour was quite happy with the way things were.

As the party planning the works, you will have complete control over who you appoint. You will either agree a fixed fee or an hourly rate. The same cannot be said of your neighbour's surveyor (if you cannot agree on an Agreed Surveyor) as he is chosen by your neighbour and is not required to state his fee until just before the award is published. If you or your surveyor consider the fee demanded to be unreasonable, it should be referred to the 'Third Surveyor' for review although this will incur a further fee and take another couple of weeks. The Third Surveyor is selected by the two appointed surveyors at the start of the process to resolve disputes.

Unfortunately some fee orientated surveyors have learnt to work the system and pitch their fee as high as they can without causing the adjoining owner to challenge it for fear of delaying the works and incurring a further fee.

Although the Party Wall Agreement covers many aspects of the work including access, contractor's insurance and resolving damage, one of the clauses which is most contentious relates to working hours. The Award will state the permissible working hours and they may appear quite restrictive at first glance; normally 8.30am to 5pm with no allowance for week-ends or bank holidays. Bear in mind that this clause only relates to the works which are the subject of the award and not the associated works which can carry on outside of these hours.