Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Architectural Theory - January Deadline

My task for this submission is to take a Site, Theory or Culture and examine it. How we produce the 'end product, is entirely up to us, and it's scaring me.

The Brief:

1. Critical Sites: explore an existing site, condition, situation or space.
2. Critical Theory: explore an existing theory, text or theorist.
3. Critical Culture: explore an existing culture and its context.
1. 3 x A4 Photographs plus 300 word supporting critical summary + bibliography.
2. 3 x A4 collage/montage plus 300 word supporting critical summary + bibliography.
3. 3 x A4 mixed media or other media plus 300 word supporting critical summary +
4. 1 x 2,500 word prose or narrative essay plus 300 word supporting summary +
5. 1 x 3,000 word critical analysis + bibliography.
6. 1 x 3-minute performance (visually documented and/or performed live) plus 300
word supporting critical summary + bibliography.
7. 1 x 3-minute soundscape, sound collage or piece of original music (on a CD) plus 300
word supporting summary + bibliography.
8. 1 x 3-minute film (on a DVD) plus 300 word supporting critical summary +

See what I mean? There is so much room for opportunity here, and I worry that I will not be pushing myself enough. Aaaaaahhhhhhh so panicking.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Cabilla Feasibility Study - T minus 7 days

Currently we are still working on the project. Personally, I am putting together all the research into a comprehensive report with a colleague. Meanwhile, we are sketching designs and really just trying to pull it together.
Just a snapshot into what we are doing!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Cabilla Manor Project

At the moment we are looking at a feasibility study for Cabilla and the proposal to create an opera house. This means that by the 14/12, we must have fully researched the land, and have chosen three areas on the large site to place three separate buildings. These buildings do not have to be designed, but simply be options for the client...

Again, the big issue is that we must not use fossil fuels.

So far, we have researched, made big site models, and looked at initial concepts. Here are a few pics from the weeks:

Site visit, cutting through the deer field was
lovely, though I feel we scared them a bit

All the rainfall in the westcountry certainly makes itself known

I love this sign so much, especially as it was pegged open

The start of the site model

All contours on, fields, tracks and trees taking shape.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Project 1 write up

It was a fun project, and to end it, we went to Sweden which was great. More on that when I am not so sleep deprived from creating a presentation for the clients. As this had to be in PDF form, it's not on the original paper (beautiful stuff), but it makes more sense. Enjoy!

Milland Project,
Abigail Banfield

My aim in this project was to create a habitable building that not only fulfilled the brief of 'zero fossil fuel usage', but was in itself an attractive and unique building.
My main motives for design, aside from that lead by technical issues related to fuel, were born from narratives I created for the perspective inhabitants. I wanted the couples retreat to be just that; a retreat - not only from our technological, consuming modern world, but of the natural world too. The building would serve as a place to come back to after time spent exploring the land, to take off muddy items and retire to the fire side. I had an idea of creating increasing 'levels of enclosure', so the building has a large porch to shelter under to allow the inhabitants to sit outside to watch the summer rain roll through the woodland, and lowered windows in places to view the land whilst being inside. My intensions were to link the cottage to the land as much as humanly possible. These notions can be seen, in part, on page one.
Cob is used for the extension, and the shape of such was intended to show the difference between the old and the new, thus making it a 'readable' building. The overhead insulation is sheep's wool, available very locally indeed! The building is taken off of the ground with a course of gravel (from the nearby river bed), then a naturally made hempcrete, then a suspended (for ventilation) wooden floor.
I hope that you can see the thought processes of my project, and enjoy looking at the work I have enjoyed producing. To follow the concept and principles of the project, all of my presentation was hand drawn on recycled, handmade paper from the Plymouth area. This of course does not come across in the digital format.

Abigail Banfield

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Day 1 of Sweden has been amazing, and I promise to upload all the photos when I get home!

Friday, 26 October 2012


So, my review went really well. My tutors and peers seemed to like the presentation and the ideas. Especially the 'technical thought' behind the flooring.

Have a gander (appologies for the wobbly shots):

Off to stockholm tomorrow!!!

Monday, 22 October 2012

T- Minus 4 hours

Shit shit shit.

Still to go -

  • Finish Section sheet
  • Finish model
  • Detail of a construction bit.
  • Material Study sheet (?)
  • Panic
  • Cry.

T- minus 7 Hours

I am currently doing an all nighter with my house mates and fellow architects, Alex and James. We are about 5 coffees, an Irish Coffee and a Baileys down each. And I am loving the project more than ever. I am going through my sketchbook and trying to get rid of the places where I've written "bollocks to thatch" and instead emphasise the sophisticated process and development of design.

I've baked salt dough rocks (coloured with compost to the EXACT shade of the granite on site) and I am currently gluing them together to make the exterior walls. It's looking good.

Still worried.





T- minus 10 hours 40 minutes


My facebook password has been changed for my own good, though how far I can trust the holder of it, lies in question.

So much left to do.

T minus 24 hours, 25 minutes

As I creep towards the 24 hour mark, I am worrying about my lack of model. Models explain more to a client/ tutor than a drawing or rendering can ever achieve. I must get on this today. It is just unfortunate that I also have a lecture (minus two hours) and a meeting (minus 30 mins). Plus I have to get there (minus 30 minutes) .
This means that I have lost 3 hours today before I've even started. 21 hours to finish this project? It's got to be possible!

T-Minus 31 Hours

It's 3 am, and I am going to sleep. I am horrendously behind. Crap crap crap.

What's done:
Started Sections

What's left:
Finish sections
Detail of part of the construction.

Wish things didn't take me so long to do.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

T-minus 2 days

I have to keep reminding myself that today is Sunday. It's surreal.
I had a load of mini deadlines set up for myself. I'm slowly missing every single one. I reckon I'm running about an hour and a half behind. So a new work music mix is going on and head is going down.

Here's a very poor photograph of the master plan. Better photos to come when the game is over.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

T-minus 3 Days

It's Saturday night, and I'm in the library. I've just changed a lot of the design, as always happens around this time in any project, or so it seems. I get to the crunch point and have a gut feeling that some element is just wrong, and nothing else can progress until that is resolved.

Today I have moved off of draft paper onto my expensive recycled thick, beautiful paper. Exciting stage.
I will post a photos after the day of reckoning has come and gone, including last night's very drunk sketches of how the thatch roof could work. Simply awful.

Friday, 19 October 2012

T- minus 4 days

Officially, the panic is setting in. I didn't manage to do that much work today, which totally sucks, though I am loving life more than normal.

Out tonight for a friend's birthday. Bad idea? Probably. I have so much to do.

T-minus 5 days

I should have posted this yesterday, but I was invited to act as tour guide/ student representative for our school of architecture for the RIBA visit, which took up almost all of my day! It was a great opportunity to see what they thought of our school and to ask questions of them. They seemed very happy with our unit system, which I don't think many universities use. The Unit System, introduced last year, is a way of teaching that is much more creative and flexible than the normal system of one brief for all. There are 7 units to choose from at the beginning of Year 2 and Year 3 of the BA Architecture course. This year I chose the Zero Fossil Fuels, which is a very practical unit as we are designing buildings for real life. Other units are looking at ideas from creating abstract worlds for mechanical beings, to looking at sub culture in cities (see my friend Andrew's tumblr - still a work in progress but some idea of it)

I then, very responsibly, went and saw Brother and Bones in the evening instead of doing drafts of my work. Ooops.

So today, I am doing all my drafts (hopefully) to do a practice presentation and 'crit' tonight with my house, seeing as we are all architects (though on different units!).

I will be needing coffee and chocolate today.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The ways in which architecture is in our everyday lives.

I know that this sounds like an easy statement, but some things which come from architectural design are less obvious than, say, a building. Think about some easy translations; coffee tables, chairs (specific post to follow), lights....
And what about shoes?
This course has made me look at things differently; the world becomes more fascinating.

T- minus 6 days

Today I started early, and optimistically. I started the countdown timer for 8 hours, resolving that I would pause it every time I needed to pop to the loo or make tea.
I only managed 5 of these hours.
I did go to the fish mongers, browsed the shops and did a fun weights work out with my housemate.

Work wise, I have achieved all of my checklist for the day:

  • Decide on a floor plan
  • Make a sketch model
  • Research material. (this I need to do more of)
It occurred to me this evening how significant this project is. Firstly, it represents 40% of my year, which I express often. Secondly, it's making me think in different ways and wonder why a zero energy house isn't more common. 

I'm enjoying it, but I'm worried about missing out on a first.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

T- Minus 7 Days

With only a week to go, this project is feeling very real. It is a very scary thought that this project is worth 40% of  the year. Ahhhhh ahhhh aaaaaaahhhh!!!!

The brief:

  • Build a holiday cottage for at least two people without using any fossil fuels.
  • All services must be incorporated into the design (eg drainage, heating etc)
  • The Landscape must be a key point of the design
In today's tutorial, for which I stayed up working until gone 3, I was told that my scheme 'just doesn't work', and that I have to re-think a lot of the design. Since I'm not a fan of flogging a dead horse, I think that I may just start again. 

Wish me lots of luck!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Year Two's First Project


I have just started my second year back in Plymouth. I'm still loving the course, and of course my new housemates.

Our current project is to create a holiday cottage for two, in a wood on Bodmin Moor, entirely without the use of fossil fuels. There is a crumbling ruin on site, with which we must work. To begin with this sounds straightforward, but once you start thinking about embodied energy, then it starts to get tricky....

For example, thinking about which materials to use, one thinks of wood, seeing as it is a renewable material (if managed correctly). But then you have to think of where that wood is coming from (as you can't use transport due to the fossil fuels it uses as power), and how it has been processed (we can't use tools that have themselves been made with fossil fuels or use fuels to power them).

Admittedly, the timber issue was fairly straight forward; I am using local oak to make a green oak frame. This in itself has its problems as it will warp as it seasons (seasoning wood in modern times has been done with a process of 'baking' which uses fossil fuels as power). Also, we must consider whether we actually want to chop down the trees, as this will definitely expose the hidden site. The more interesting problems, however, come with things like the oven, piping and windows - I wanted an aga or something similar, but the cast iron needs too many processes; plumbing generally uses copper pipes, but there isn't a way to make them on site; windows must be made on site, which leaves the option of handblown glass.

See? It gets tricky.

And it's due on the 23rd. Minor panic.
Beautiful bit of Cornwall.
The site is in the patch of trees on the right!

The heavy canopy and the top of the ruin.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Power of Film

Recently, I have been finding that the films of the past are very interesting, and a great way to learn a little.
Design for Today (1965) was shown on Sky Arts recently, and since I cannot find a full length on the internet, I trust this snippet will suffice.
The final sentence has stayed with me since I watched it a few days ago:
It is a film without words, because good design speaks for itself.
 Which reminded me of a quote which was plastered around our uni building, which I can't remember exactly (nor find) but it went something like:
Good design does not shout in your face. Good design whispers in your ear and suggests possibility. 
Another film was William H. Whyte's 'The Social Life of Urban Spaces', which looks at the inhabitation of space, and how planners should relate to this. It is an philosophy that is strongly related to that of our school of architecture, so the film really appealed to me.

I've also been reading, obviously while sunbathing in the rare british sun.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Working in Abu Dhabi

I have left this blog for a long time, which I do regret, but it is a cumulative problem – much like avoiding the gym or a library fine; the more you leave it the worse it gets.

Anyway, I recently had the pleasure of going to work in the Benoy architecture office in Abu Dhabi for a week, which involved meetings as well as designing and general practice.

It was a real shock for me. Firstly, the lifestyle change both shocked and compelled me; I can see why people stay to work there for years. The luxury is crazy. 

And the opportunities for architectural greatness are fantastic. There is so much money floating about, that everything is made possible. My work was awfully pedestrian, but I have never felt so lost before - designing an object rather than a space to be inhabited (on a budget). It was also the first time I had really got to design solely on a computer - no sketches, no models; not a scalpel cut or glue blob in sight.

All in all, fantastic trip, and it was an experience that will never leave me.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Project 7 - "A Moment of Mystery"

Hello, long time no post.
I finished project 7, my final project of the year on wednesday.
It was a project that I found myself really getting into, as it was our first 'real'/'conventional' assignment as we were actually designing a real life building for a real life client with a legitimate brief.

project brief. For those who are interested in this, the brief is below. It's a tad lengthy, so i'll excuse you for skipping it.
 You are to design an inhabitable structure; i.e., a “thinker’s dwelling”, on your chosen
site, which is to contain the following spaces:
- Gathering / communal room.
- Thinking room.
- Resting room.
- Cleansing room.
- Dining Room.
- Entry / Entries
- Circulation as required.
 The following are strict conditions to incorporate into your thinking for this project:
- Underpinning Schumacher College’s ethos and its work in formal education and
informal environmental awareness is an emphasis on sustainability. Though
sustainability has many definitions, we can understand it as a concern to protect
and enhance present-day conditions of ecological, economical and social
livelihoods while not diminishing their capacity for future generations.
- Further to this, in order to conserve energy and reduce construction costs, all of
the spaces with the project brief are to be part of a single building; a collection
of rooms as separate free-standing structures is NOT permitted.
- In order to conserve energy all proposals have an external envelope that is at
least 50% solid construction (i.e., the walls AND the roof each have to have an
at least 50% solid construction); proposals may NOT have an all-glass external
- You are not allowed to cut down any existing mature trees; any existing
saplings (i.e., recently planted trees about the height of a human) may be
removed and replanted elsewhere. If you are unclear about what is a mature
tree and what is a sapling please speak to one of the tutors for clarification.
- The dwelling should be able to accommodate more than 1 person.
- The maximum floor space for the dwelling is 75 sqm.

In short, the brief was to create a 'thinker's dwelling' on one of 4 predetermined sites at schumacher college, Devon. This was to be an ecologically friendly building, which related to its context (surroundings).

The main points of my design were a rediculous maze system to create a real boundary between the private and the public, and the idea of light being restricted to create a dim environment. The latter was in relation to the text I read as part of the design project; "In Praise of Shadows" by Jun'ichirĊ Tanizaki.I read an awful lot on this project, which I feel has only strengthened it. To show this, I wrote a quote on the bottom of each presentation sheet.
Final Presentation sheets

Design process. Apologies for the sideways nature!

Building section showing the way in which the earth is
connected with the building and vice verse.

Perspective drawing 

Completely upside down site analysis. Sorry!

1:100 model showing how the new building is pretty
much invisible, except for the light well.

Approach to building. Black= trees and people.

In my design I endevoured to create a dwelling which posed the least impact, both visually and environmentally, and I think that I managed to do this. The scheme is almost invisible from 3 angles, and the grass roof work as both a new place to walk about and inhabit, and proves to keep the design economically and environmentally viable.

It was stressful, and there is so much more that I wanted to do, but right now I am proud of what I have achieved, even if it does seem like it dragged on.

Just the portfolio to hand in on Wednesday now!

Much Love

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A great house.

This is the hobbit house that I read about in a daily mail article. It was built by Simon Dale and his family, at the cost of around £3000. Which is not bad at all I think.

The moon rises on the house which is roofed with grass and nestles in its woodland surroundings
I really love this little house.
Finished article: Simon Dale's family home, made with his bare hands
Who wouldn't want to live here??

The original film version of Bilbo Baggins' house 

Simon Dale's project can also be found on his website.

In fact, I was so inspired by this project, that I have just put myself forward as a volunteer on the Lammas Project.... how exciting?!?!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Current Affairs

Right now, I am taking a break from writing my history and theory essay on gypsies. It's brilliant; I'm loving writing it. I am desperately trying to get it done before I leave for my hitchhiking trip to Croatia, as I won't have time or the means to do it on the road. 

Writing about gypsy life means that I get to watch (and read reviews and comments on) My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
Below is my FAVOURITE gypo wedding clip.

 I also have found that maybe the architect look of wearing black frame glasses is coming into the public eye:
 A screenshot from Azealia's '212' 


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Further to the Architectural Chairs....

To prove my point about how overused/ recognisable some styles of architectural chair are, here is a  promotional video of a model house... Check out the series of 'it' chairs.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Architectural Chairs

It seems to me that all architects design a chair or two at some point in their careers. 
I hope that I can be on the list at some point in the future.

Here are a few that I have come across recently.
Stitching Concrete by Florian Schmid
Florian Schmid's concrete fabric chairs made with cement covered fabric, which is
stitched then drenched in water and left to set. It reminds me of modrock to a degree...

The Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe
Mies Van der Rohe's infamous Barcelona Chair.  This piece is inescapable, and
 in SO many London offices. It tends to also be used in architectural
photoshoots. A clever 'tribute' to it was a sofabed made
 by MADE, which is on my wishlist......
Trabecula Bench,  Janne Kyttanen. A beautiful (and expensive) laser sintered piece of functional art.
The Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen's tulip chair, the shape and
 style of which has been replicated many times.
The Egg Chair.jpg
Arne Jacobsen' egg chair. A recognisable  form due to many imitations. In fact, it
may itself have been inspired by Saarinin's Womb Chair

In uni news:
I am now in Project 7, which involves designing a 'thinker's dwelling' for Schumacher College. I am seriously considering this wondrous place as a post graduate option.... I'll see how it goes.
I am also deep in writing my current Architectural Theory and History essay, which is all about Settler Irish Travelers. Which gives me a great excuse to watch My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding more.