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Featherstone Young, London, United Kingdom

Wednesday 06 Apr 2011

The walls have ears

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Award Entry

Young practice create distinctive and exciting architecture across the public domain 

Featherstone Young want to contribute positively to the provision of better housing and more stimulating and culturally sustainable communities.

Their practice achieves this by creating distinctive and exciting architecture across the public domain; they are inspired by locality and the people that live within it. The practice encourages public participation in order to ensure that people are actively involved in making positive changes within their neighbourhoods.

Their Ty-Hedfan project, meaning ‘hovering house', takes full advantage of its riverside location. It is an exploration of the practice's interest in highly site-specific and contextual architecture, taking its cue from the traditional Welsh long house form, using local material and fully utilizing the topography of the site to create a striking and distinctive form.

At Elephant & Castle their starting point was to create houses, not a block of flats. 11 buildings stand tall on the site and appear as abstracted ‘houses' but are actually flats within houses, like a Russian doll. The ‘houses', which provide 24 maisonettes, have a variety of heights and are orientated to maximise on light, privacy and the division of public and private realms, resulting in an informal ‘scatter' arrangement.

The inspiration for their Orchid House comes from the wildlife and landscape at Lower Mill Estate, specifically the Bee Orchid with its camouflage flower. Designed to blend with its landscape and environment, it is a highly sustainable house and its organic form is constructed entirely from timber using laminated veneer lumbar (LVL) ribs and shingle cladding. A camouflage pattern is burnt into the timber.

At SERICC (South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre) they spent time with counsel workers and female victims to understand the nature of their work and how the victims feel. This information was developed into emotional diagrams which have inspired the new design.

Part of the new work includes pod-like windows clad in timber shingles. Likened to ‘listening ears', the blinkered windows provide privacy and seating to the new counselling rooms and softens the bleak setting and approach to the Centre.

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Featherstone Young

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