How will architecture adapt to Covid-19 and beyond?

 

The global Covid-19 pandemic has created a new world for all of us. While the fight against the virus continues, we are all learning to adjust to life in a socially-distanced society. How we move through our cities, towns and villages has changed, and we have had to refamiliarise ourselves with adapted indoor and outdoor spaces. What will these changes mean for the design of housing, work spaces and placemaking in the future? We think there will be some key changes that architects will need to respond to.

RISE Design Studio architecture and Covid-19

Seeing our homes in new ways

Even those of us who have always loved spending time in our homes will feel, after many weeks of lockdown, overly familiar with our own living space. Bedrooms have become the office or the home gym, kitchen tables have become the home school, and the quiet space that was once a reading nook may now be overrun by all members of the family seeking that rare moment of solitude.

As we contemplate the reality of more time in our home in the weeks and months to come, we are valuing our homes more than ever before and thinking about how to maximise the space. Storage has become more important as we appreciate the simplicity and order of life at home while the world outside seems increasingly complex. What was originally a temporary workspace may become a permanent feature and this presents an opportunity to create a soulful space that inspires creativity and productivity.

Even the tiniest bit of outdoor space has provided a huge boost for those lucky enough to have some. For those without, sunrooms or spaces with good quality natural light for urban farming provide a welcome alternative.

Perhaps the most important question is about how we delineate the spaces in our home that we use to rest, eat and play from those in which we now work. How can smaller spaces be used to perform these multiple roles but still allow a separation of home and work life? The creative solutions need to flow.

The importance of our local surroundings and supply chains

The pandemic has made us all acutely more aware of our local surroundings and what effect these can have on our health and wellbeing. Encouraged to walk, run and cycle close to home, we have become very familiar with our local streets, paths and parks, perhaps much more than we could have ever imagined.

As many of us continue to spend more time at home during the working week, there is an opportunity to implement energy-efficient standards, and push for faster decarbonisation of heating systems to ensure the carbon footprint of the home is reduced and energy costs are manageable.

New developments will need to adopt strong placemaking principles likely walkability to local social infrastructure. This will be crucial to ensure that local businesses can be accessed quickly and safely, particularly as home workers are likely to make these sorts of trips more regularly than in the past.

The longer we spend without regular social contact, the more important our greenspaces become for our mental and physical wellbeing. There is a need to embed these spaces in our local communities and look after them for the years to come.

Adaptable and healthy cities

Perhaps most striking has been the decline of the use of cars in our cities. Streets have been left empty and air pollution levels have dropped significantly. As people are converted into ‘full-time pedestrians and cyclists’, the benefits of making streets safer for those of us not in vehicles couldn’t be more apparent.

There is likely to be a greater focus on health in city planning and development. For example, in Singapore, therapeutic gardens have been built into public parks, and in Tokyo citizens are working with urban designers to create more greenspace in their neighbourhoods to improve their health.

Across the world, architects have been working hard to identify and adapt buildings and other spaces into temporary health care facilities. The pandemic has highlighted the need for fast design and build projects, which has made the use of modular construction – buildings assembled using prefabricated modules – more common.

Perhaps most exciting is the growth in the adaptive reuse approach to design. Using existing structures to serve new purposes, this is a real opportunity to use a sustainable and efficient approach to upgrading our living environments in this new world.

Our top tips to thrive working from home

 

Who knew that working from home could be quite pleasant? Here are our top tips to make it so.

RISE Design Studio working from home reduced

1. If you don’t have space… make space!

Re-arranging a room to fit a desk in the corner, or using that awkward recess in the corridor for setting up a little working space can make wonders to our wellbeing. Did you know that our minds stay calmer and more focused when we assign a specific task to each space?

In other words: eating in bed? Bad idea… Using the kitchen counter as your office? Turns out, not ideal either! Instead, we can get creative by separating the counter in two with a makeshift partition, or temporarily set up the dining table as an office desk while moving family meals to the kitchen.

2. Clean space, clear mind

We know… easier said than done, right? But tidying up is an effort worth making, as it has a huge influence on our mental health as explained by this article by UCLA professionals.

3. Stay connected

It is very important to stay in touch with others even if we are physically apart.
Pay attention to small interactions too. It is easy to make contact about big issues but, with the distance, we lose the little exchanges that are so crucial to our social brains. In order to avoid “losing touch” in this way, embrace communication regardless of the weight of the matter… even if it is to reach out to a colleague or loved one and ask “how’s it going?”.

4. Indulge a little

Cooking a new recipe or working while listening to Bossa Nova can transport us to places that are off-limits for the time being. Finding the energy to change things up a bit brings a lot of rewards, including a more positive attitude and a more productive state of mind!

5. Take advantage of the situation

Remember those days when you woke up wishing you could just stay at home all day and do nothing?

Oh well… now is the time to do all those things we wanted to do but never had the time to. Our best advice is to start a personal project to take your mind off things and have something exciting to look forward too. In our case, it is all about renovating homes! Spending so much time inside has led a lot of clients to finally tackle all those things they wanted to change about their homes.

Until the next time! And remember, stay safe, stay active, and stay positive.

Looking back at 2019

 

Happy New Year to all our clients and followers. We finished some really exciting projects in 2019, two of which were shared widely online due to coverage from some of the architecture and design world’s top websites. Douglas House, an extension of a terraced house in Kensal Rise in London, transformed the property into a contemporary and light living space. The second, the ‘Brexit Bunker’, nicknamed by its owner in Kensal Rise, added a garden office and ‘place of serenity’.

Douglas House renovation Kensal Rise London Brexit bunker garden studio Kensal Rise London

Douglas fir-lined extension

“180 metre square project features an oriel window which sits in dialogue with a third-floor reading pod”

Dressed in Danish timber, the family rooms have taken over the ground floor to extend into the garden. The ground floor also houses a carefully designed utility room and built-in larders that extend from the floor and hide in the walls of the living room. On the first floor, the children’s rooms are decorated with wooden details and other natural materials, and the family bathroom is full of natural light. The loft conversion is home to the master bedroom, which has a second half-floor that extends upwards to a reading space from which you can look out over the local area.

The house also features a range of environmental technologies, including high levels of insulation, airtightness, roof-mounted solar panels, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system, rainwater harvesting, and smart thermostats.

Douglas House renovation Kensal Rise London 2 Douglas House renovation Kensal Rise London 3

We were delighted that this project was featured by:

Architect’s Journal: ‘RISE Design Studio completes Douglas fir-lined extension to London house
ArchDaily: ‘Douglas House/RISE Design Studio
Dezeen: ‘RISE Design Studio adds Douglas fir-lined reading nooks to London house
Architecture Today: ‘RISE Design Studio has maximised the spatial and environmental potential of a semi-detached house in London

An oasis of calm in a busy city

“A calming retreat from the hectic outside world”

The ‘Brexit bunker’ was added to a small garden – although novel, it does not interfere with the property’s existing architecture and the raw aesthetic ties the entire garden together. The walls are built with reclaimed bricks and the interior is clad with birch plywood, giving the space a warm glow when the light reflects from the skylight in the roof. Spanish steps lead towards the roof light and a relaxing space to contemplate life without seeing any visual cues that the structure is in the city rather than the countryside.

Brexit bunker garden studio Kensal Rise London 2 Brexit bunker garden studio Kensal Rise London 3

This project was featured by:

Architizer: ‘The Brexit Bunker, London
designboom: ‘The Brexit Bunker is an oasis of calm in north-west London
Archilovers: ‘Brexit Bunker

You can also read more on our Projects page.

Permitted Development Rights III: Other projects

 

Our last two posts have covered Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in general, and house extensions under PDR in particular. In the final post in this short series, we consider some other types of projects that fall under PDR and do not require planning permission, and provide you with some information about the rules that you should be aware of. Specifically, we cover additions/alterations to the roof of a house, porches and other outbuildings or structures that you may wish to add.

Permitted Development Rights III

Making changes to your roof

Unless you live in a protected area and/or your house is listed, you can add to or change the side and back of your roof without requiring planning permission. You may wish to convert the loft and add dormer windows, or carry out alterations such as re-roofing or installing roof lights and/or windows.

As far as practicable, additions to the roof need to be at least 20cm above the original eaves, and no higher than the highest part of your house. It is possible to add up to 50 cubic metres to the original roof space (although this figure falls to 40 cubic metres for terraced houses). It is not possible to add a veranda, balcony, or any other type of raised platform. Similar to house extensions under PDR, the materials you use should be ‘similar’ to the materials on your existing roof.

Adding a porch

You can add a porch to your property that is up to 3 metres high and with a maximum area of 3 square metres. If the porch faces the road (which is often the case), it should be at least 2 metres from the edge of your plot.

Other buildings/structures

Under PDR, you can build any independent structure on your plot to the side and back of your house, as long as it is not another house or has more than one storey. For example, you may wish to add an outdoor office shed, a swimming pool, an animal pen or a heating tank.

The additional structure(s) may take up to half of the plot that is not taken up by the ‘original’ house (note that ‘original’ means the house as it was first built, or as it stood on 1 July 1948, if it was built prior to that date). The structure can be up to 3 metres in height. However, if the structure is within 2 metres of the house, the maximum height is reduced to 2.5 metres. If the structure has a double-pitched roof, a maximum of 4 metres in height is permitted.

As with roof alterations, your structure may not have a veranda, balcony or raised platform, and you will need planning permission if your house is listed or, in some cases, if you live in a protected area. Antennae are also not allowed on the structure.

You can read more detailed guidance about PDR for these types of projects (as well as adding hard surfaces to your plot and/or altering the chimneys and flues on your property) in the Householder Technical Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Note that the guidance applies to England and Wales and separate PDR guidance can be referred to for projects in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Adding value to your home: extensions

 

Extending your home is something you might do for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your family has grown and you need an extra bedroom, or maybe you want some additional living space, a home office, or a way to bring in more natural light. Whatever the reason, extending your home is likely to add value to the price of your property, as well as make your home a more enjoyable and comfortable place to live. In this post, we look at options for extending your home, what value it might add to your property, and some recent projects of our own that show you the types of things that can be done.

Extension North London

What type of extension?

Extensions tend to range from adding a few square metres to the living area, to multi-room or multi-storey additions. Extensions require planning permission so it can be a good idea to look at what other people have done in the area and consider whether your plans are reasonable and realistic in comparison. It is important to work with an architect and/or builder that is recommended, either by someone you know or through trusted registers such as that held by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). It is sensible to work with an architect who has experience of work that suits your property’s style, as well as a track record of successful planning permission applications.

Will it add value?

In London, property costs around £5,000 to £10,000 per square metre. Outside London, these figures drop to between £900 and £2,000 per square metre. You can take these figures into account when estimating how much value an extension is likely to add to the value of your property. Multiply the area gained by the local price per square metre and then offset the cost of the project against this.

Some examples

We have completed a number of residential extension projects in London. These range from single storey rear extensions, to a three-storey extension and complete internal re-configuration.

To accommodate a growing family in West Finchley (North London), 110 square metres were added to the Cissbury Ring South Garden Rooms were added to allow an open-plan area that created more fluidity between the kitchen/dining and living area, as well as a new den and study.

It can also be an option to renovate and/or extend the basement of a property, which was the case in the Stockwell Garden Room (Lambeth, North London). The house was stripped back at the lower ground level to create a more workable basement that maximised the use of natural light.

Increasing the natural light in a property was also central to the Burrows Road Glazed Envelope project (Kensal Green), in which the existing ground floor was modernised to create more open-plan living space and a bright garden room with a glass roof was added to the kitchen at the rear.

What can a RIBA Chartered Architect do for you?

 

A typical residential project from concept to completion

Carrying out a residential project can seem like a daunting proposition, from designing a scheme and acquiring planning permission to overseeing construction. To help you understand the advantages of appointing a RIBA Chartered Architect, this month we walk through a typical residential project and explain our role in this process.

Residential architecture project West London

Whether your proposal is a unique, new-build home or you wish to renovate an existing building, an architect will be able to supervise and oversee a project from an initial draft design to the completion of construction. This blog has been written to describe how an architect can add value to your project, and lead the way for its successful delivery. It gives an introduction to the services that an architect is able to provide and also the terms of a client-architect agreement

Appointing an architect

A good working relationship with your architect is crucial for delivering a successful project. It is advisable to choose an architect with experience and a style which is relevant to your project and ambitions, and a track record of successful planning applications within the local authority.

At the outset, the architect will meet with you, the Client, to understand the vision you have for your home, ascertain your budget and discuss your requirements.

An architect’s fees vary depending on the location, how complex the project is, and how involved you would like the architect to be during construction stage. How much you use an architect is up to you: you may need some general advice, a selection of initial sketches or more detailed drawings, or on-site support when the construction starts. It is important that you and your architect discuss and agree on the cost and scope of the services that will be provided, before the project begins. RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) recommends that the agreements you make at the outset are put in writing (you can use the RIBA Agreement forms, if you wish).

The stages for projects are well represented by RIBA Plan of Work 2013, as follows:

Stage 0 Strategic Definition
Stage 1 Preparation and Brief
Stage 2 Concept Design (Initial Options)
Stage 3 Developed Design (Planning Submission)
Stage 4 Technical Design (Building Regulations and Tender Issue)
Stage 5 Construction (Contract Administration and Contractor Queries)
Stage 6 Handover and Close Out
Stage 7 In Use (Post Completion Building Performance Monitoring)

For more detailed information, see the Plan of Work on the RIBA website.

Following the initial meeting, an architect will help you as Client create a Client Brief, which considers the existing condition of the building (if renovation and/or extension), design and function of the proposals. Initial sketch options would be drawn up for your approval, before ideas are developed further, and overall project timings and a budget would also be defined.

When you have approved the initial sketch options, more detailed drawings would be produced. Safety guidelines and building regulations would be incorporated into the design, with floor plans including discussions with a Structural Engineer and Mechanical & Electrical Engineer (for larger more complex projects). Further discussion would take place about the fine detail of the design, including sustainability, daylight, lighting, storage, and ergonomic functionality. Once you are happy with the final design, the architect will help you to navigate the planning approvals required before the project can begin, including the preparation of planning applications to the local authority where needed, and building regulations approval.

If you do not have a construction/building company in mind, an architect can put the project out to tender on your behalf, awarding the project to a general contractor. Once construction begins, an architect can act as an intermediary between you and the builders, contractors and interior designers (where applicable) and other consultants (landscape architect, audio visual specialist, kitchen specialist, lighting specialist, etc). The architect will also inspect the construction work (if included in their appointment) in terms of meeting the standards required, and delivering the project on time and within budget.

An architect is qualified to manage the whole project, interpreting your ideas, solving any problems that may arise, and ensuring that you are happy with the overall finished product.

Please see here to view some of our recent residential projects, or visit us at our studio to see our full portfolio of work.