Friday, 18 November 2016

Exploring interior design

This Shape My City blog post was written by participant Martha Eustace.

On the 10th of November, the last Shape My City session of 2016 took place at the Architecture Centre. The theme of the session centred on interior design (a first for Shape My City), and we were joined by Angela Morris, an interior designer who also teaches design courses in Bristol.

 Each member of the Shape My City group had been asked to bring along a picture of one of their favourite interiors, and the warm up activity was focused on these images.

Each person had to explain what it was they liked about the spaces in their photos. From a vast indoor botanical garden in Mexico to the interior of the Clifton Cathedral, one of the common features which had sparked the most interest was the way that light fell into the spaces. The imapct of colour, materials, ambience and furniture were also discussed by the group.

Angela then spoke to us about her journey into the world of interior design, which had begun with a last-minute change of course upon her arrival at university. Angela worked on domestic and office projects before sharing her design indight as a tutor at City of Bristol College. When asked which of her projects had been the most rewarding, she answered that it was her work on the new City of Bristol College Green Campus where she has just retired  from teaching interior design courses.

Alongside the generous budget which made the project “a bit more fun”, the fact that she was able to work in and use the space which she helped to create was, from her point of view, the best part. We were also shown some of her past student’s portfolio's, and introduced to the idea of perspective and isometric drawings. Angela shared how diplomacy and good communication skills were also key for the role of an interior designer, when you have to juggle the needs/wants of the client with the practical considerations of budget and site contractors.

Our design brief for the session was to create a mood board and layout plan for a compact one person studio flat. The client was not specific, so each group chose to design a mini flat for themselves (thinking ahead to independent university life!). After much cutting up of interior design magazines and hasty concept drawings, it was time to present our ideas to the rest of the group. The first group had decided on a very open, light space and a natural colour scheme featuring some copper accents. To maximise storage, they had included a platform under the hammock bed, to act as a kind of ‘floordrobe’!

To divide up the living space large, floor to ceiling silver birch trunks that could be made into shelves, were included, as was a bathroom with a glass ceiling (it was a top floor flat!), to create the illusion of an outdoor shower. The second group had also decided to use light colours on the walls, but with a different accent colour for each room in the flat: orange and blue for the living room and green for the bathroom. To ensure that they had enough storage that had included a bookshelf with a secret door, to act as both a wall and shelving unit, and to break up the space, without using solid walls.

The final group (who admitted to getting distracted by some of the finer details!), had decided on a neutral colour palette and wood d├ęcor. The kitchen worktops and table were to be made of the same wood as the floor and would all flow into one another, to create softer curves in what was otherwise a very angular space. The sleeping area was situated on a raised platfrom, which helped divide up the space without the use of walls, and which included subtle floor spotlights on the steps leading up to it.

This was the last workshop session of the 2016, and I think it is fair to say that each member of Shape My City thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet new people and learn about the wide variety of career/study opportunities available within the field of architecture and the built environment. All that remains to be said, on behalf of everyone from Shape My City this year, is a big thank you to Amy for organising all the sessions for us. Good luck to all the ‘Shape My City’ers in whatever they go on to do next!

Useful links: 
British Academy of Interior Design (London and Manchester)
British College of Interior Design (Diploma course)
National Design Academy

Interior Architecture degree course (UWE)
Interior Architecture and Design degree course (Bournemouth)

Interior Design short course (Bath College)
Interior Design one day taster course (Folk House, Bristol)

Friday, 7 October 2016

Fun Palaces with artist Scott Farlow

This blog post was wriiten by Shape my City participant Martha Eustace

On the 8 of September, the Shape My City group met for their 6th session of the year. The theme of the week was ‘Fun Palaces’ and artist Scott Farlow came along to talk to us about his artwork, and help us to develop our own ‘Fun Palaces’ for the Architecture Centre’s 20th birthday festivities on the 25th of September. Fun Palaces is a national campaign supporting local culture at the heart of every community, with an annual weekend of arts and science events created by, for and with local people.

The session began with an exploration of the words ‘fun’ and ‘palace’. Some of the responses to the word fun included ‘letting go’, ‘being childish’ and ‘laughing’. For ‘palace’, the words ‘grand’, ‘opulent’ and ‘secret tunnels’ came to mind. Following on from this, Scott spoke to us about his artist practice, telling us that he is very much a public artist who thrives on collaboration and interactivity with people in the work he produces.

We were then presented with our brief for the week: Design your own Fun Palace. There was, however, an added element to this week’s brief, that we were going to be able to actually construct our designs and display them at the Architecture Centre’s 20th birthday party (a festival style street party on the harbourside). Once we had been given our site, a space on the harbour side opposite the Centre which included a bench and a bin, we set about designing our palaces in small groups.

The outcomes of the design process all had surprisingly similar theme: a covered tunnel/walkway, of which the surfaces could be drawn on and decorated by the public. From amongst an array of imaginative and creative ideas such as ‘toblerone (triangular) tunnels’ and spiral walkways, emerged an idea of being transported to a fantasy space, different from the actual surroundings. With this idea in mind and several shopping lists written, we all agreed to meet again, with Scott, to build our very own ‘Fun Palaces’.

On the 24th of September, Shape My City met up again at the Architecture Centre, and began to build our installation. This involved an amalgamation of all our ideas into one giant structure that would allow the public to interact both creatively and physically with our artwork. After some discussion, the group decided on a long, triangular tunnel, which would be lined with netting and bubble wrap, leading up to an enclosed area where people could spend some time illustrating what their ‘Fun Palace’ would be. We split into two groups, and one built the bamboo bubble wrap tunnel whilst the other produced a series of cardboard and bamboo screens. 

Finally, on the 25th of September, the Fun Palace was constructed by the harbourside in front of the Architecture Centre. The tunnel was transferred from the first floor of the centre to the harbour side out of the window, as the screens were folded up and carried outside. Despite the rain and wind, the Shape My City group managed to produce a net covered bamboo tunnel, complete with bubble wrap floor and a string of lanterns and fairy lights. 

This led to a gazebo clad in our very own cardboard screens, which encompassed a bubble-wrapped bin. We created a making space for children and families, who helped embellish our fun palace structure. Throughout the day we saw the playful interaction between people and our structure, and saw the responses to our fun palace documented all over the cardboard screens. As a group we managed to create our very first simple piece of architecture based on our own models and ideas, and also learnt the value of creative public interaction to architecture.

Reflecting on the process artist Scott said: ‘I am so proud of the young people. They worked so hard - collectively, imaginatively and with great spirit - I was so impressed with their positive and calm approach to the design and making of the Fun Palace, to their will to make something special happen (despite the ridiculous - but amazing weather at times) and in their warm encounters with the public - of which there were many. It was really a most enterprising and inspiring experience for me’.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Workshop five - public art with Jennie Savage

On the 7th of July, the Architecture Centre hosted the fifth Shape My City session of 2016. The theme of the week was public art and we were joined by Jennie Savage, an artist who is currently collaborating with the Architecture Centre to help them celebrate their 20th birthday.

The session began with a card sort of various images to do with public art. The groups (rather small this week due to post exam holidays!) were told to arrange the cards in any way they saw fit, and then pick their favourites. Among the favourites were: some trees wrapped in wool (yarn bombing); a dining table (community shared feast), with no obvious purpose; and a large jet of water squirting above a park (man made geyser).

The focus of the session then turned to Jennie, who went on to tell us about her career as an artist. She told us how she had begun by doing a foundation year and then doing a degree at Cardiff University, but interestingly she noted that it was her part time job at a gallery that allowed her to realise her dream of becoming an artist. From there she went on to tell us about her first project, a community radio programme (Star Radio) recorded by the people of Cardiff itself, and it was this, she said, that got her onto the public art scene.

More than this, however, she said that she loved being able to see the people interact with her art, and thus showed us that the process can be just as important as the final product. Jennie also handed out some leaflets to the group entitled ‘Sounding City’, asking us to fill them out to help her complete her next project, which is going to be based upon the city of Bristol. What Jennie stressed the most, much to the amusement of the group, was that “if you want a steady income, don’t become an artist!”

The talk was followed by the main activity, which caused some extra excitement this week as we were told that our brief was actually real! Our task was to design a temporary installation for the Architecture Centre’s birthday weekend party, accompanied by an activity which both adults and children would be able to engage with. As there weren’t very many of us, we were told to come up with an individual idea, and then to discuss them in pairs.

The first outcome was a building activity, whereby people could build a small pixie-style dwelling that could then be attached to one of the large trees outside the Architecture Centre, with the aim that it would help people to access their creativity and build up rather than out, and so work in a slightly different dimension. The second idea was a large temporary castle, possibly made of cardboard, which people could play in and around, and generally have a play at being someone different. The queen of the harbour side perhaps? The third response was one involving a prebuilt structure with lots of adornments. The idea behind this response was that people could then take away and deconstruct the installation and build new things out of its parts, enabling a spread of creativity to access different parts of the city. The final outcome was a simple, geometric structure that visitors could play on and decorate as they felt. Overall, the responses all had a family friendly environment in mind, with a focus toward group creativity.

The next session will take place in September and will continue to focus on the Fun Palace inspired design task for the Architecture Centre’s 20th birthday Weekender party on 25 September.

This blog post has been written by Shape My City participant Martha Eustace.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Workshop four - architectural model making with Amalgam

This blog post has been written by Shape My City participant Martha Eustace

On the 9th of June, the Architecture Centre hosted the fourth Shape My City session of 2016. The theme for the week was architectural model-making and consequently we were joined by Phil and Anthony, two of the model makers from Amalgam, the Bristol based model making company that creates models for a variety of purposes such as advertisement and, of course, for architectural firms.

The session began with an edible model challenge, which soon got a bit messy! From a selection of materials, including waffles, ice-cream cones and cement-like icing, we were told to create an architectural model. The outcome of the challenge resulted in: one Weetabix straw house; a pink waffle gazebo; and two post and lintel style temples involving breadsticks and an abundance of biscuits!

After all of the construction remains had been cleared away Phil and Anthony stepped up and shared their own experiences of working in the model making industry. Phil, who arrived at Amalgam after doing three years of an architecture course at Bath University, told us that although the unpredictable deadlines can make his job stressful, the passion that he has for his job is able to overcome this stress. In fitting to this comment, Phil shared that he would tell his 16 year-old self to follow his passion and gut instinct. 

Anthony, who did do a model-making course at university, explained that the diversity of creative backgrounds within the company emphasised the fact that all the workers at Amalgam were drawn together by their passion and enjoyment of model making. Phil and Anthony brought some sample models with them, the general favourite of which was the fully operative desk chair complete with wheels and a spinning seat!

The talk was followed by the main activity: ‘Fill the Gap’. Our task, in pairs, was to create a model displaying what we thought could fill the gap between the Architecture Centre and the Arnolfini. The catch was trying to accommodate for the 1:50 scale of the existing model of the Architecture Centre! Under the professional eyes of Phil and Anthony we set to work, and half an hour later there were a set of diverse and imaginative responses. 

The first group produced a double-layered park, with a link from the cobbled street to a raised grassy platform. Phil said that he liked how the group had considered natural light, in the form of a skylight in the top platform. The second group had a symmetrical park, with a line of trees leading up a curved path to a focal point, in the form of a statue. 

The outcome of the third group’s work was a park, with a focus on breaking up the grey of the surrounding harbourside, but there were hints of the hard landscaping of the surroundings by the inclusion of a cobbled stone path wending it’s way around the tree in the centre of the park, which was lit up (by a disguised phone!) The final group came up with a treehouse, which it was agreed resembled a mushroom more than a tree! The treehouse aimed to include young and old alike, with swings and a spiral staircase taking centre stage in the composition. 

Phoebe, the volunteer mentor, commented that she liked the way in which the path leading up to the tree would make people walk around the entire space. Overall it was agreed that any of these ideas would be better than the empty and overgrown plot of land that sits in the space now!

The next session will take place in July and will focus on architecture and public art. 

Further information:
New Blades – the model making industry annual new talent show