When developing ideas and concepts for individual buildings whether a bespoke villa or a 50 floor tower, the first step is to look at the site of the project, its context in conjunction with our parti* for the scheme.
Every site has its own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. Often our initial concerns are with the amount of light and aspect for the project. Many projects, particularly with GCC region, are tightly confined by very close neighbours. This restricts light into the building as well as views out from it. This has meant for several of UEA projects radically altering the plan form in order to minimise the depth of the plan and reducing over all width. Deep plans present a great challenge to us. They cause problems because they mean large areas without natural light, or at least low levels of it. In some cases we have adopted the H-plan form so as to provide the maximum amount of facade for residents plus the narrowest of plan forms, giving natural light to all and the most possible views out from the building. In other instances we have adopted a complex combination of curved facades so as to steer residents’ views away from neighbours toward the better aspects.
It is fundamental to us that the brief and guidelines/ project development codes are not taken for granted. Every assumption given by the master developer or local council is tested and if we deem it necessary,challenged and debated with the concerned bodies. Often a master-developer will impose guidelines that go beyond issues zoning and instead impact the shape and fabric of the building itself. For example, projects in Ajman, UAE take a standard form of large podium floors for car parking with smaller towers sat on top. We refute this look as it leads to a poor urban landscape defined by acres of parking at street level, and gives a sense of a tower sat on a box above it. Where possible we have burried our parking and hidden the remainder within the silhouette of the project, so that they remain uninterrupted vertical towers.
For a project in the North of England (shown above) , we met with the planning authorities on a number of occasions in order to persuade them of the merits of a developing a site for high quality residential that had before, been earmarked for low quality retail warehouse and general low density out of town use. We proposed revitalising the area through apartments, cafes, a park and in general, the making of an urban village community. Ultimately the council completely backed our proposals and in fact saw it as central to their inner city regeneration of that area.