While Thread were closed over the holiday, we reviewed the year and told you a little bit more about our work on social media. Now it’s the new year we have pulled together all the images and text into our start of year blog below…..

2019 was a fun year with lots of varied and interesting projects at different stages including houses, libraries, rooftop cocktail bars and community hubs. However, no matter what the project we always follow a similar thorough, collaborative and fun process.

Feasibility

Once we have established the brief, we start to look at feasibility options exploring different ways to meet your needs and exceed your expectations. How we present these back to you depends on the project and audience, but we always ensure that the ideas are clear. These images are from a feasibility for a rooftop playground in Solihull we worked on this year. The aim was to make use of an unused flat roof in an area where space was a premium to provide an exciting and inspiring work and play space for pre-school children. We looked at problems such as shelter, storage, access and safety in various ways each with their own exciting theme.

3D development

Throughout the stages of a project we work in 3D as well as 2D to really help clients explore what the space might be. These can be in model form, sketches or computer renders. This year we have started looking at VR and video models. This extract from a video walkthrough of the new lower ground floor level of Broomhill Library was developed at concept design stage in collaboration with landscape architects Urban Wilderness to show the client how the new rear extension connected with the heritage gardens and how the architecture could provide sheltered spots for reading and enjoying the landscape.

 

Consultation

Architects are creative problem solvers. This requires us having to work very closely with our Clients to talk through their needs and wishes to build an accurate and detailed brief to ensure everyone involved has a clear idea of what the project should achieve. This process is essential at all scales of project but is at its most challenging when we are working with a large community group where there can be a broad spectrum of people who need to be consulted. This year we have been working with a community group in Selby helping them to create a new community hub. Over the last few months we have held brainstorming workshops, held live events where we have used spray cans to draw 1 to 1 same drawings within the building to be converted, been involved in public engagement in the local park and run games to allow the community group to start prioritising the brief. We are looking forward to developing the design further early in the New Year.

Concept Development

Following presentation of the feasibility ideas to our Clients our next stage of work is Concept Development. The feasibility studies will throw up lots of new ideas as well as start to test assumptions and highlight ideas that might not work as well. From this we look to start to hone these ideas down to a single approach that encompasses the developing brief for the project. We like to work in 3D to explore these ideas as we start to make some of the broad moves that will start the crafting of the Client’s final project and the amazing spaces that we wish to create. This last year we have worked on a range of projects at this stage of different scale and type. These images show a proposed rooftop cocktail bar, the re-imagination of a shop unit into a community hub and the creation of a new entrance to a house refurbishment.

Design Development

This is our last stage of our design work before a project is prepared for a full planning application. The design will now be becoming really clear for us and our Client and it gets really exciting as the look and feel of the spaces and form take shape. The final appearance, arrangement and materiality will be defined, and Clients can start to imagine what it will be like to walk around the proposal that we have been working so hard on together. To achieve a “realistic” view we will utilise actual and computer models. These two views are of two new homes that we completed the design development stage of earlier in the year and that will start on site in 2020.

Planning applications

The planning application for a new project is a big milestone for us and our Clients and the culmination of a lot of combined hard work. After weeks and months of crafting a design we now need to describe the design, the Client’s wishes and brief and our combined design process to the local authority to illustrate why we think the design proposed is a suitable for the site and of high architectural quality. The preparation of the drawings and documents for the application can be a really useful exercise to help us clarify our thoughts and ensure the design is the best it can be at this stage. Where possible we always like to work closely with the local planning authority during the design process to gain their feedback and views on our designs. We discuss this our Clients and look to ensure we can encompass their thoughts and views so that the application can be supported. We have recently gained approval on several tricky sites where the local planners have not thought a new intervention was possible and this conversation with the local authority during the design process has helped us achieve approvals. These images are from our “House in the Woods” in South Yorkshire – a wooded site on the edge of the green belt. We carefully illustrated how the proposed new house would weave amongst the valued trees and how its form and materiality responded to the site. This attention to detail ensured that the new house was given approval and will start on site in 2020.

Technical Design

Following the grant of planning permission, we can really start to develop the constructional detail of a project in the knowledge that it has permission to be built. This includes the nuts and bolts of how the roof, walls, floor and other elements are joined technically and develops the internal finishes and fittings. We go beyond the 2D information for builders to read and work alongside clients to ensure that the design continues to develop by helping to visualise what the materials and details will feel like as the spaces develop in technical detail. This ensures the details make the spaces as good as they can be and explains clearly to both the client and builders what is expected and required from the finished product. We can also ensure that the final product will be as environmental and sustainable as we can make it through careful choice of materials, techniques, detailing and air tightness. The attached images are part of a visual study and detail drawings of the stair in one of new homes that we were working on this year and that will be starting on site next year.

On Site

We have had several projects running on site throughout 2019. One of the largest is an extension to an office on the corner of Glossop Road and Upper Hannover Street in Sheffield. On some smaller projects, our services whilst the project is built can be just being at the end of the phone if the client or builders have any queries. But on larger projects we, and our Clients, like to stay involved to ensure the projects run smoothly through construction. Our role as Contract Administrators at the Glossop Road site has involved working closely with the planning and conservation officers to sign off conditions of the planning approval, from agreeing the final brick specification to ensuring safety of adjacent tram infrastructure, co-ordinating specialist packages such as Structural Insulated Panels from SIPS@Clays and windows from Senior Aluminium Systems , as well as working closely with the contractor, T H Michaels , to review any unexpected discoveries on site, which is common particularly on existing historic buildings, and making sure the client is kept up to date and given time to consider and sign off on final finishes such as kitchen layouts and paint colours as the project comes into reality.

Completion

This is the stage that is hopefully the most exciting for the Client. It’s the moment that they are given the keys to their new spaces and can start to use them to live, work or play. This is a pretty exciting moment for us too and is the culmination of all the design work, discussions, development and inspiration and it’s great to see the spaces finally in use. Our role doesn’t stop at this moment though. We are there to ensure that all building snags are dealt with and that the Client has a full understanding on the use and maintenance of their new spaces. This year we saw several projects completed including a full house renovation and extension in Ashbourne, a barn extension in Matlock, and a community centre extension in Derbyshire. We also were pleased to see the partial completion of the strawbale house in Tickhill allowing our self-build Client to move into part of their home whilst completing the rest of their home.

Post Completion

Once our projects are complete, handed over and our Clients are using the new spaces we still like to keep in touch. Any defects in the build can be picked up in the first few months following completion to ensure everything is as you expect it to be. We also like to keep talking with Clients to learn from our designs and make sure we are always improving our services and that the designs can learn to adapt to the Client’s needs. We are pleased to say we maintain a very good relationship with our Clients in the months and years after completion. These include these projects we revisited this year including the conversion of a former workshop, a 1930’s house full renovation and reimagining, the refurbishment and extension of a Sheffield home in a conservation area and this new garden room and library.

Happy New Year from all of us at Thread Architects. We are looking forward to starting work on new designs in 2020. Want to talk about your project and how we could help you? Please do get in touch.