Not playing by the rules

Tuesday 13 Mar 2012

Studio Seilern Architects reveal how each piece of work has its own set of rules

Studio Seilern Architects are more interested in an architectural idea, rather than a sociological or semantic one. Every project generates its own set of rules and requires a dialogue with its author, rather than the imposition of a pre-conceived idea of a given site. They merely respond to the local, cultural and physical context, while overlapping it with their interpretation of the brief or the issue at hand. The smaller scale keeps their pencils sharp on questions of intricate detailing and the unravelling of the human condition on the living and working fronts. The larger scale concerns itself with the bigger picture, such as planning, efficiency, and models of living, often generating its own logic. Each project informs another.

Studio Seilern Architects mixed-use masterplan proposal in Accra needed to incorporate residential, office, and public realm elements. Due to Ghana's accelerating growth, demand for commercial, residential and retail areas can change quickly over time. The project has been designed as a toolkit for decision-making, rather than a finite masterplan, allowing for maximum flexibility in usage, density ratios over the site, phasing scenarios, and the ability to adapt to future needs of the city.

In a seemingly impossible location, White Horse Street is a scheme for five residential lofts plus retail space in a Mayfair conservation area. Currently awaiting planning permission, the site is sandwiched between listed buildings and offers only 17% of its perimeter to street frontage, posing potential problems regarding natural light and extended views. Their solution was to turn the typical urban building model inside-out to create a park within a building. The focus in drawn away from the poor quality perimeter and towards a sculptural vertical garden, providing vibrant views from the lofts, as well as drawing light and ventilation to the core of the site.

Within a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vilnius, planning permission has been granted for Boksto 6. This large mixed-use development includes performing arts space, restaurant, spa, residential and office accommodation, parking and landscaped gardens. The design response accounts for the fitness of the existing buildings for modern living and the requirement for returning the density of the site to its historical precedents. The existing Baroque and Gothic fabric is a valuable asset however rather than providing a mimetic response, they have proposed new build insertions. While uncompromisingly contemporary, these insertions are a direct response to the brief. Proportional massing and the use of reflective materials mirror the surrounding context, aiming to evoke rather than replicate the historic fabric.

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