Friday, 6 January 2023

Technology Takes Command

G.R.AI.N Technology Directs the Future

Technology is changing our lives at lightning speed.  It can now assist us to gather ideas and formalise arguments in seconds.  A.I. for in particular is about to change the way we exist.  For example,  give Chat GPT a topic for an essay, thesis, piece of creative literature or even computer code and it will provide responses more insightful than you could imagine, in a matter if seconds!  In fact, it took far less time for it to produce the well considered and articulated responses below than it took me to write these less articulate lines.  

On the theme of technology and its future impact in Architecture, Chat GPT responded below on the implications of  Genetics, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology and cryptography (Grain+Crypto), arguably the key components of the next technological revolution and their possible impact on the future of Architecture:

1.  What is the future of Architecture?

It's difficult to predict the future of architecture with certainty, but there are a few trends and developments that are likely to shape the field in the coming years.

One trend that is already well underway is the increased use of technology in the design and construction of buildings. This includes the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software, building information modelling (BIM), and other digital tools to streamline the design process and improve the efficiency of construction.

Another trend is the focus on sustainability and the environment. Many architects are designing buildings that are more energy efficient and have a smaller environmental footprint. This includes the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, and the incorporation of green spaces and other features that can help mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on the field of architecture. Many architects are now designing buildings with features that can help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, such as better ventilation systems and touchless technologies.

Overall, it is likely that technology and sustainability will continue to be major drivers of innovation in the field of architecture.

2.  What opportunities exist for robotics in Architecture?

There are many opportunities for robotics in architecture. Some examples include:

  1. Automated construction: Robotics can be used to perform tasks such as welding, painting, and bricklaying with a high degree of precision and speed.
  2. Building inspection: Robots can be used to inspect buildings for structural integrity and identify problems that need to be addressed.
  3. Disaster response: Robotics can be used to access disaster-stricken buildings and assess damage, allowing emergency responders to prioritise their efforts.
  4. Energy efficiency: Robotics can be used to monitor and control a building's energy use, ensuring that systems are operating efficiently and consuming as little energy as possible.
  5. Environmental monitoring: Robotics can be used to monitor a building's environmental performance, such as air quality and water usage.
  6. Security: Robotics can be used to patrol buildings and monitor for potential security threats.
  7. Transportation: Robotics can be used to transport people and goods within a building, such as through the use of elevators and automated carts.

Overall, the use of robotics in architecture has the potential to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance safety.

3.  What opportunities does genetics offer to architecture?

Genetics has the potential to offer several opportunities to the field of architecture. Here are a few examples:

  1. Customised design: Genetic information can be used to create customised designs for buildings and other structures that are tailored to a specific location or climate. For example, an architect could use genetic data to design a building with features that are optimised for a particular region's weather patterns or natural disasters.
  2. Adaptive design: Genetic data could also be used to design buildings that are able to adapt and respond to changing environmental conditions. For example, a building could use genetic algorithms to adjust its temperature or lighting in response to changes in weather or the time of day.
  3. Sustainable design: Genetics could be used to design buildings that are more sustainable and have a smaller environmental footprint. For example, architects could use genetic information to design buildings that are more energy efficient or that incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
  4. Customised materials: Genetics could also be used to design and develop new building materials that are customised for specific applications. For example, architects could use genetic engineering to create materials that are stronger, more durable, or more sustainable than traditional materials.

Overall, the use of genetics in architecture has the potential to revolutionise the way we design and build structures, and could lead to more efficient, sustainable, and adaptable buildings.

4.  What opportunities does Artificial Intelligence offer architecture?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to offer several opportunities to the field of architecture. Here are a few examples:

  1. Automated design: AI could be used to automate the design process, allowing architects to create designs more quickly and efficiently. AI algorithms could be trained to generate design options based on a set of parameters or constraints, allowing architects to explore a wider range of design possibilities.
  2. Optimised design: AI could be used to optimize the design of buildings for specific purposes, such as energy efficiency or sustainability. AI algorithms could analyse data on building performance and suggest design changes that would improve the building's performance.
  3. Predictive analysis: AI could be used to predict how a building will perform under different conditions, such as different weather patterns or occupancy levels. This could allow architects to design buildings that are more resilient and adaptable to changing conditions.
  4. Virtual assistants: AI could also be used to develop virtual assistants or chatbots that could help architects with tasks such as scheduling, project management, or communication with clients.

Overall, the use of AI in architecture has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the design process, and could lead to more innovative and sustainable buildings.

5.  What opportunities does nano technology offer architecture?

Nanotechnology has the potential to offer several opportunities to the field of architecture. Here are a few examples:

  1. Customised materials: Nanotechnology could be used to develop new building materials that are customised for specific applications. For example, architects could use nanotechnology to create materials that are stronger, more durable, or more sustainable than traditional materials.
  2. Self-cleaning surfaces: Nanotechnology could be used to create self-cleaning surfaces for buildings, which could reduce the need for maintenance and improve indoor air quality.
  3. Smart buildings: Nanotechnology could also be used to create "smart" buildings that are able to adapt and respond to changing conditions. For example, nanotechnology could be used to create sensors and other devices that can detect and respond to changes in temperature, humidity, or occupancy levels.
  4. Energy efficiency: Nanotechnology could be used to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by creating materials that are able to store and release heat or electricity more efficiently.

Overall, the use of nanotechnology in architecture has the potential to greatly improve the performance and sustainability of buildings, and could lead to the development of new and innovative materials and technologies for the construction industry.

6.  What opportunities does cryptography offer architecture?

Cryptography is a branch of mathematics that deals with the secure communication of information. It has the potential to offer several opportunities to the field of architecture, particularly in the area of building security. Here are a few examples:

  1. Secure communication: Cryptography could be used to secure communication between different systems within a building, such as security cameras, alarm systems, and access control systems. This could help protect against unauthorised access or tampering.
  2. Secure data storage: Cryptography could also be used to secure the storage of sensitive data within a building, such as financial records or personal information.
  3. Secure building access: Cryptography could be used to create secure building access systems that use encryption to protect against unauthorised access. For example, an access control system could use cryptographic keys to authenticate users and grant them access to certain areas of a building.
  4. Secure payment systems: Cryptography could also be used to secure payment systems within buildings, such as vending machines or parking garages. This could help protect against fraud and unauthorised access to financial information.

Overall, the use of cryptography in architecture has the potential to greatly improve the security of buildings and protect against unauthorised access and data breaches. 

This is  is a fascinating set of responses which suggests Architecture and design, building systems and the service life of buildings being more self-aware and autonomous in the future.  There is a lot about processes, procedures, materials and environmental sensitivity but not much on style and form.  I suppose style and form will be influenced by technology and express the innovation with visibly new materials and building systems.  Alternatively, as it so often does, familiar materials and architectural forms could cloak the innovations in an acceptable wrapper.  

The responses above offer a fascinating insight into potential technological advancements in Architecture.  Future AI engines, including Chat GPT will evidently be able to control more directly the evolution of the industry and associated professions.  Not even the best project managers can extract from of the heads of the client, design and stakeholder teams all the most valuable information and deploy it successfully, but AI will!  

Will humans be left behind in this continued development?  500 years ago, it was believed one person could acquire the sum of all human knowledge.  As knowledge progressed, academic disciplines split in to specialist areas.  Now there is so much specialised knowledge it has become a skill for us to collaborate effectively.  This is where AI and innovative technologies can step in to assist, albeit with a leap of faith.  

I'm sure Siegfried Giedion would have had a lot to say on this subject.  75 years after his book 'Mechanisation Takes Command' where he predicted the opportunities of mechanisation, prefabrication and mass production following technological advancements in the Second World War, the opportunities for technological progress in Architecture and the Building Industry today has never been greater.

Friday, 31 December 2021

Designing for Plants

DesignBox Architecture is delighted to have recently held a series of design workshops with Hillcross Primary School in South West London, as part of the RIBA’s schools outreach programme. 
Hillcross Primary School and RIBA Greenhouse Design Workshop
Looking at greenhouse precedents

The brief for the workshops was set by the School; to design and build a series of greenhouses.  This was part of their programme to meet the needs of the national curriculum for art, design and technology. The workshops were held with two year 4 classes of 9 year olds held over a three week period. 

DesignBox Architecture Design Workshop Developing Ideas
Approach to design

Several types of seeds were available for our young Architects to chose from and they were introduced as the Clients for the project. The first task was to understand and assess the environmental conditions required by each seed type, to grow into healthy plants. 

DesignBox Architecture Design Workshop Developing Concepts
Some design considerations

DesignBox Architecture Greenhouse Design Workshop Environmental Considerations
Some environmental considerations

Work progressed through a number of stages, starting with first ideas drawn using paper and pencil. These ideas were reviewed before being brought to life by taking A4 sheets of paper and experimenting in 3D forms by folding, cutting and stapling to create mock-up structures. 

DesignBox Architecture Greenhouse Design Workshop Materials Palette
Materials palette

The fact that most of the children have never experienced a greenhouse or considered greenhouse design before proved to be a bonus because their ideas were fresh, innovative and genuinely novel.  Next step was to see the site, the school allotment to decide on the best places to site the greenhouses, considering sun path, shading, drainage, and ventilation. 

Hillcross Primary School and RIBA  Architecture Workshop developing ideas
Developments in design...

Hillcross Primary School and RIBA  Architecture Workshop Prototyping
 and experiments with paper structures

Workshops progressed with the introduction of materials to make the final greenhouses, which included plastic sheet and card, dowel and cane, modelling mesh, nuts, bolts and cable ties.  This palette of materials allowed the students to make frame, panel and tensile structures, with opaque, translucent and transparent options. 

Hillcross Primary School and RIBA  Architecture Workshop Project
The Cress House

Our budding Architects engaged fully in the process with enthusiasm and drive to create some really involved and unique results.  It was a very exciting set of workshops, full of fun! I hope we will see how the plants progress in their bespoke houses in the Spring. 

Hillcross Primary School and RIBA  Architecture Workshop Project
For growing runner beans

Thanks again to Hillcross Primary School and the RIBA. 

Notes on the workshops:
Working with the plants as Clients gave an objective focus to the design process. Seeds can’t talk so the design challenge became a focus on the optimum growing environment required for them, based on information on the seed packet. Clients normally articulate their requirements to form a brief for a project.  As an architect it is important to consider what is not said as much as what is said. 

In addition it is important to consider that as architects we need to consider the requirements of life forms other than ourselves. Here the students had to think about what life would be like as a small plant. As architects we can often see ourselves in the Clients shoes, projecting our interpretation of the Clients requirements on the design. Here, the design tasks benefited from being detached from human needs so the students had no option but to think outside themselves. And to imagine a world without doors, walls, windows, and roofs. 

The sequence of working in 2D, then 3D with A4 paper before proceeding to full size structures helped ensure the designs were achievable and realisable with the resources we had. It was also a useful to exercise for the articulation, dexterity and motor skills of the children's hands and fingers. This can’t be underestimated because technology including touch screens and games consoles result in these skills being under developed. 

The fabrication of the individual full scale greenhouses  was of a size manageable by school children. The materials selected to create them included externally durable sheet and card that could be bent, folded and  connected. Connections were made with cable ties and M5 bolts, sized to fit with holes made from a standard single hole punch. All accessible and easy to manage. 

Personal takeaway:
It was very interesting to observe how similar the working dynamic of the school workshop teams were to that of a professional design studio. Individuals within teams gelled and jarred in similar ways and for the same reasons I have seen in practice, over working and friendship relationships. The dynamic was however wholly positive and the young architects always supportive of their team mates. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Chair-ish Creativity #2

DesignBox Architecture are delighted to have been invited back to Furzedown Primary School to run some more Architecture and Design Workshops.  We worked on chair designs over two weekly lessons.  The workshops focused on the development of design using writing, drawing and making skills.  

  • Writing skills started with a name for the chair design and a 'narrative' to describe what the design is about and its significance.
  • Drawing skills looked to visualise the written design idea.  Pens, pencils, colours and any artistic medium were encouraged to express the student's ideas.  Drawings could be orthogonal (we discussed plans, sections, elevations and axonometrics) or free-form.
  • Model making skills using materials sympathetic to the material and structural choices made by the students in their designs.  
Extracts from the workshop sequence sheets, looking at the concept, structures and ergonomics.

The idea of the workshops was to investigate a holistic design approach.  Each skill-set informed the next and progress through the workshops informed the student's overall designs.  For example, model making revealed both restrictions and opportunities over the drawn ideas, and both offered feedback on the narrative and initial concept.  

The workshops were fast-paced with lessons broken down in to progressive steps lasting about 20 minutes each.  This kept the students focused in their ideas and enthusiastic for the process.  The students were a class of year-5, 10 year olds.  

The design process looked at thinking about: 
  • The concept; who the product is for and what is significant or special about it,
  • Functionality; considering how a concept translates in to a purposeful design, 
  • Drawing practice; how to represent ideas in different ways in two dimensions, 
  • Structures; the different types of structures that surround us and how they work,
  • Ergonomics; considering how how humans move, our differences and the importance of inclusivity.

Examples of work showing text, drawing and models

The results were hugely creative.  The student's imagination produced some very impressive results.  Their application and involvement in the process drove many of them to work through design issues positively which was very encouraging.  The students considered their designs carefully.  In addition to the predicted gaming chairs, the works included a comfy chair for Mum, a trampoline chair, and a chair to meet friends on.     

More examples of work showing text, drawing and models

Thanks to Furzedown Primary School and their Art department.  Have a great Summer!

Education note: The purpose of this design workshop was to demonstrate the importance of Art and creative subjects in the National Curriculum, especially when used in application with mainstream subjects like English and Maths.  'Chair-ish creativity' is about how we should 'cherish creativity' and demonstrate why the STEM subjects are much more accessible and enjoyable when set within an environment of STEAM.

The multi-mode process also helped the students to understand how design develops and is informed by each separate step in the process.  

Saturday, 24 July 2021

The Machrie Golf Links and Hotel Programme of Works

DesignBox is delighted to announce the completion of a programme of works at the Machrie Golf Links and Hotel, with our appointment as Project Manager. 

Project Management coordination with a Scottish Golf Links and Hotel Redevelopment
The Machrie Hotel set behind the 18th hole on the Links
Photograph: Alan Williams

The Machrie sits on the edge of the Laggan Bay, on the Isle of Islay.  Know as ‘the Queen of the Hebrides’, Islay is the southern most island of the Inner Hebrides.  Islay is famous for its whiskey, its environment, wildlife, and of course golf and hospitality.

Project Management coordination with a Scottish Golf Links Redevelopment
The 18 holes of the Machrie Golf links with the Hotel's construction site 
in late 2017

The Machrie includes an 18 hole championship links course set into the pristine dunes next to a SSSI beach. There’s also a ‘Wee Course’ for beginners or golfers looking for a warm up. The four star luxury Hotel managed by Campbell Gray Hotels includes 47 guest rooms, a bar, restaurant and function room, three lounges, a 30 seat cinema, gym, spa, golf shop and an indoor driving range with technical suites and golf lounge. The links course has been thoroughly upgraded by DJ Russell and Edinburgh Landscaping to reclaim the charm of the original Willie Campbell course of 1891.  To support the upkeep and maintenance of the links, the green keeping team now have two maintenance sheds and a series of annexed plant facilities. 

Project Management of Water and Utilities Installation
Walking the route for the water mains with Scottish Water 
through peat bog

DesignBox was appointed as project manager in May 2013 to assist with securing consent to connect to the mains water supply from Scottish Water.  Up until this point the Machrie had operated without mains water which was a key factor to the hotel’s closure in 2011 under previous ownership. Consent was granted in 2014 with agreement for a pipe line to connect the hotel to the nearest water mains, 2.9km away.   The work involved easements across four adjacent landowners farms and was critical to unlocking the business viability of the hotel’s business case. 
Simultaneously, DesignBox was also appointed to project manage the construction of a new green keepers shed in 2013.  The original had been destroyed in a storm some time earlier. In developing the project, DesignBox ensured that all service infrastructures were upgraded to future-proof the Machrie for the programme of works to follow.  This included redirecting the overhead mains power supply to the new shed to make space for a new first fairway, upgrading the pole-mounted transformer and power supply to enable the green keeping team to manage their vehicles and plant. A series of buried ducts were installed to enable BT and water connections to the shed and a new HV mains connection to the hotel.  Circulation tracks were managed to make the route to the green keeping facilities as inconspicuous as possible, whilst maximising space for golf play at the same time.  

Architecture and Project Management of Golf Links Green Keeping Facilities
The Machrie Golf Links Green Keepers Shed

The Client’s vision was to create a world-class Championship Links Course connected to a newly redeveloped four-star hotel, for the enjoyment of local, national and international visitors.  DesignBox was appointed project manager for the hotel redevelopment project in 2015.  This began with a series of enabling works which took place in quick succession to facilitate the hotel’s design and procurement programme, and start on site date.  Enabling works included the removal of asbestos, partial demolition of the existing hotel and temporary refurbishment of 14 existing holiday cottages for use as site workers accommodation during the build.   

Project Management of refurbishment of Scottish Island Hotel
The Machrie Hotel at the beginning of construction

DesignBox project managed the design development of the hotel project working for the Client with Hudson Architects (Architects), Peter Young Design(Interior Designers), Morham & Brotchie (Oban) (Quantity Surveyors), David Narro Associates (Glasgow) (Structural Engineers), Hulley & Kirkwood (Glasgow) (MEP Services Engineers), Victoria Jerram (Lighting Designer) and a series of specialist suppliers.   We started on site in September 2016 with Corramore Construction as the main contractor, and reached Practical Completion in September 2018.  With Islay being a west coast Scottish island, logistics, lead in times, availability of specialist trades, working weather windows and accommodation were key challenges we worked on as a team to ensure progress, in addition to the normal challenges of project management.  We were a robustly positive team and always maintained progress. 
In addition to the main contract of the Hotel’s construction, DesignBox project managed the logistics to bring all the FF&E and OS&E to the Machrie, new phone connections to the hotel, a new BT data fibre connection from Port Ellen 6.5km away, and the demolition of 10 of the remaining cottages after they were vacated by the site team.  

Hotel redevelopment logistics project management
Inspecting the contents of the trailers

Because Islay is a relatively remote location, anything required off the Island can take time to arrive.  The Machrie sought to overcome this by equipping themselves with all the key machinery, facilities, plant and skilled people required to make them self sufficient.

Golf Links Facilities Development Architecture and Project Management
Vehicle work at the Machrie maintenance shed

Following the opening of the newly redeveloped hotel, DesignBox was appointed to project manage a new vehicle shed for the green keeping team which completed in 2020 and the resurfacing of their 1.3km approach road to the Hotel which completed in 2021, staged either side of lockdown.  

Golf Links Facilities Development Architecture and Project Management
The new vehicle shed tucked behind the maintenance shed

The Machrie Golf Links and Hotel is a very special destination and these projects occupy a very special place in the DesignBox portfolio. The regeneration of the Machrie’s Hotel and Golf Links marks a most incredible transformation which is all to the credit of the Client’s vision and attention to detail.  I am sure the Machrie will have a wonderful summer season this year and I hope there might be another opportunity to work for the Machrie again in the future. 

Golf Project Management Islay
Evening at the newly redeveloped Machrie Hotel
Photograph - Alan Williams

Classic Car Tours Aston Martin Skyfall Tour 2021
Aston Martins arrive at the Machrie for the 2021 Classic Car Tours 'Skyfall Tour',
on the newly resurfaced Machrie road

Tuesday, 20 April 2021


TFL Car Park Reuse

Transport For London (TFL) are looking for ideas to add value to some of their tube station car parks. Our response is Tube Hub; a heterogeneous network of street markets, connected and empowered by the TFL tube network. 

With a focus on local speciality trades, crafts and businesses, each market in the Tube Hub network can be a place to buy a passing coffee, drop off dry cleaning, meet work mates for lunch, rent a work station for a day, or meet friends for an evening event.  

The tube network raises the profile of the markets, facilitating access with passing trade from commuters or as a specific destination for visitors. 

We have been living our lockdown lives with ever more reliance on online services, often through a small number of well-established companies.  Progressive technologies allow us to operate without geographical base, supported by logistics that brings stuff to your door. 

It seems long ago that we knew our local high street and the small family businesses which populated it. We have moved towards a more anonymous relationship with our community. 

Tube Hub seeks to re-address this, re-uniting communities with the wealth of services in their area, supported by the robust TFL transport system, which encourages people beyond their doors and brings everyone together!  

2020 and 2021 so far have been long periods of lockdown. With restrictions thankfully easing we now have the opportunity to take back some ground on how we connect with our communities and the wealth of opportunities it offers...and enjoy life.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Playground Design Challenge

Playgrounds are an important part of childhood.  Play, exercise, seeing friends and having fun all happen in our playgrounds.  In these days of lock-down, playground facilities have never been more important for the mental and physical wellbeing of our children.  

But have you noticed that playgrounds are for kids, but have been designed by adults?  What do they know?!?  With Furzedown Primary School in London SW17 we set an design challenge for KS2 pupils (years 3 to 6, i.e. 8 to 11 year olds) to re-imagine their perfect playground: A space for kids, designed by kids.

This lock-down challenge was sent out to the kids with the following simple rules:

  • No adults allowed: Grown-ups were not allowed to influence the design.  Kid-power protocols govern!
  • There's no such thing as a bad idea.  Take your extreme, and push it to the extreme!
  • Your ideas matter.  Don't doubt your abilities.
  • Keep playing with your designs, with drawings, using colour, making models, even attempting prototypes.  See what the different media and scales influence your designs.  
Additional notes to the brief included consideration of space, place, weather, inclusivity and activities.  There were some thoughts on presentation, narrative and naming their projects too.  

Playground Challenge Brief

Playground Challenge Ideas

Over the February half term the kids set to work on their proposals.  The results were varied and exciting, and demonstrated a freedom of thought and individuality of ideas.  

Years 3 to 6 tackle the Playground Challenge!

In addition to making a novel response to the design challenge, the kids ideas often reflect personal interests and activities of value to them.   It has proven a very productive exercise which we hope we can develop and progress in future workshops once lock-down restrictions lift.  

Education note: The purpose of this design workshop is to demonstrate that we are all stakeholders in our surroundings.  Where spaces directly affect us, we can have the confidence to assess what we require, what would make a positive difference and what would make them special.  The views of children are no less important here.  In fact their input can carry a lot of value because their thoughts are often less affected by preconceptions of what should be, and they represent tomorrow's generation of grown-ups.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

One Sheet of Paper

 One sheet of paper

One sheet of paper is a very powerful tool.  It can be the vehicle to start any imaginative journey into design.  The opportunities for working with it are huge, and the feedback it gives to your eyes, hands and brain are invaluable for understanding 3D space as well as developing fine motor skills.  

The use of paper for experimenting with design is very important, especially for younger children.  It helps the mind to understand 3D space and form, and to enable the mind to comprehend objects in space.  This is a learnt skill which we tend to lose as we grow up.  Our world is dominated with straight lines, flat planes, vertical walls and standardised doors and windows.  As we grow up we become more and more used to these simplistic conventions.  There's a kind of dumbing down of our 3D cognitive skills.  Professional designers sit in orthogonal rooms and operate 3D computer software to solve spacial design issues which our minds are losing a grasp of.  Neither the mind nor the fingers are being exercised as they could be as a designer.  

But it starts with only one sheet of paper; a very accessible resource.  Take a scrap sheet of A4 and before tossing it in to the recycling bin, try giving it a couple of folds.  What does it give back?  Has something been created that you need to turn in your hands to comprehend? What space does it offer?  Placed on a table, what scale would a person need to be to occupy it?  Bring your eyes down to the level you would be, if you were that scale.  What is the light like?  How do the spaces feel?  How would you scale this up to make a full size structure?  Where would you site it and what would it be used for?  Suddenly you're on an Architectural adventure.

The list of examples below are techniques for manipulating paper which we have used in School creative design workshops.  It's a toolbox methods that can be used to investigate and progress architectural design ideas.  


Folding is possibly the simplest process to start with.  It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, and its reversible.  Adding a few folds to a sheet of paper quickly transforms the material from being an unremarkable object to something that challenges our comprehension.  


Cutting is a one-way process in the sense that it is irreversible, unlike folding.  Cutting allows different shapes and forms to be created and geometries managed with polyhedron nets or allowing flexibility in the material which was not possible before the cut.  


Adding allows paper components to be combined to make a new form or structure.   These can either be as structural rods created from rolled paper, geometric shapes combined as panels, or with folded forms added together to make larger structures such as with modular origami.  Assemblies can have fixed or flexible junctions.  As a result, the forms created can be static or flexible.  


Slotting components together allows three dimensional assemblies to be created which can be disassembled and recreated in different geometric arrangements.  Having folds and slots at angles quickly challenges our abilities to mentally keep track of the forms that emerge, and can create some exciting results.


Lets not forget that paper is ideal for drawing.  In our design workshops we always like to challenge our students further by inviting them to represent their 3D creations with Architectural drawings and how they would work at full-scale.  These include plans, sections, elevations, axonometrics, perspectives and free-hand explanatory diagrams.  


With designs developing, our workshops often investigate how the the proposals will transform with different materials, to experiment with colours, light, translucency, and the meanings and values  associated with different material surfaces.   We often look at different structural solutions, because materials perform differently to paper and card.  Here, white card models start to transform in to more complete design proposals with these extra dimensions added. 


Given the opportunity we love to attempt scaling some proposals up to full scale.  It enables the students to realise their creations and experience how they will work in reality.  Paper sheets and rods generally transfer into card or correx sheets and card roll centers from rolls of carpet, fixed with cable ties, rope or nuts and bolts.  

The journey of a humble sheet of scrap A4 paper to an individual and unique creation in form, space and geometry can be extraordinary.  To practice our drawing skills we're encouraged to sketch for ten minutes each day.  To practice our spacial design skills we should likewise play with those waste sheets of A4 paper before they get sent to the recycling bin.  


The work shown above was carried out in workshops at Furzedown Primary School and Graveney School in London and Hampton School in Middlesex.

For inspiration and technical reference, a lot of credit is due to Paul Jackson, David Mitchell, Tomoko Fuse, Paul Johnson, Josef AlbersJunichi Yananose and many other paper engineers.