The world-in-your-pocket that is your phone allows the immediate and democratic sharing of global ideas in your local context. Globalisation as an idea is exemplified by such everyday dependencies. Designed in California and assembled in China from components sourced from every continent on the globe, our phones ‘map out’ how important international collaboration is to all our livelihoods.
Architecture faces similar global and local influence. Our architecture weaves together ideas shared around the world with local, contextual issues; from the bespoke and local needs of a building to the networked community of people whose lives it touches. We embrace the sharing economy and use our position as city makers as a force for positive change. Our sense of urbanism is changing. Our Agenda explains how we should respond:
Space is expensive and we want it to be as many things to as many people as possible…
The pressure on space in the city has never been greater. Building types are merging into new hybrids, and our conventions for the use of a space are blurring – put on a play in a bar, live at the office or work in a park, or a café if you want to. We encourage the complex and layered uses of a building and its spaces to wring out the experiential value within it, without losing any of its functionality.
Buildings have many lives and host many more. We look beyond the brief to design for the imagined possibilities of a space; its untapped potential to engage users, visitors, the public, both inside the building and out.
The point of the city is to meet and share experience. To encourage an interplay between diversity and inclusivity.
In a digitally driven age, where it’s possible to work, shop and download entertainment remotely, the true value of city living and working is in its ability to offer social exchange. We love the nowness of the city – the reasons to be here rather than there – and want our work to facilitate that wherever possible. Buildings should be event enablers, facilitators of interaction and the 24/7 live culture of the city.
We like seeing the workings of a building, expressing its elements, its structural components. We seek meaning in expressive design that shows us how a space is made, and how its programme is made to feel at home.
Cities are deviant entities that foster spontaneity and creativity, preserving the grassroots urban identities that distinguish the democracy of city living from other ways of life. We like showing what's under the hood and not over-mediating the physical experience of a building through any dominant or tasteful aesthetic.
We are inspired by the uses of materials, industry, the heritage of a location, and use these to find our points of difference in a building.
Buildings have their own stories. We like to bring these out in our design but we also want to explore the new stories that our clients bring to a building's adaptation – organisational stories, brand stories, interiors that have been conceptualized or contrived to serve an authentic purpose.
A building should be authentic to its own frame of reference and play nicely with its neighbours, but we are intrigued by the possibilities of fabrication to explore new, temporary, local or brand-driven identities. City living demands a plurality of aesthetics. To some degree it is all fabricated – the trick is to fabricate well.
We are fascinated by what a building envelopes, and how that envelope is made. The skin of a building is more than a superficial surface; it expresses externally what is being asked of the building internally. We craft surfaces by first deciding what to represent– local context, intellect, material resonance, and craft. Surface is meaning, and an essential part of urban identity.
Cedric Price has explained how city evolution can be modelled as an egg; from the boiled egg of the medieval city, through the fried egg of industrialisation to the scrambled egg of the modernist city of 'many villages'. Our cities today are becoming omelettes: the scrambled eggs of modernity dotted through with diverse and surprising ingredients, to create a varied, and sometimes coherent whole.
The growing city always alters the location of its centre. New focal points of activity, demand, density and regeneration begin to emerge. Nodal cities have moments of intensity, centres of place-through-event that are no longer planned solely around civic buildings or the old institutions of governance. Our work in both London and LA explores liminal spaces, city fringes, transport led regeneration, the creation of new neighbourhoods and villages that celebrate the Omelette.