Maquettes: Jan 20 - Feb 20

Maquettes: Jan 20 - Feb 20

Models are useful. No other device comes close as a means to communicate and scrutinise an idea about a space, a building, a part of a city, or the construction of a detail, than a physical model.

But models are useful for other, more powerful reasons too. The special value of making a model as part of the design process is that a model has two lives: one representational, but another as an artefact in its own right. Models are also simultaneously concrete and abstract. They are an attempt to scratch out a specific investigation into the consequences of certain geometries, proportions, and massing arrangements; but their gift is that the finished model – an abstract object exhibiting the accidents of its own making and the traces of the designer’s missteps and adjustments - might ‘talk back’. It might suggest new lines of enquiry, or offer answers to questions we didn’t even think we were asking.

In this way, models are objects built with a purpose, and then read with an open mind. The relationship between these activities is where their particular value lies.

In Jan 2017 we made a small exhibition about models and their usefulness. In the gallery space of the building we share with an exciting bunch of artists and creative industry practitioners (South Block, in Glasgow’s Merchant City) we exhibited a range of our working models, particularly those concerned with our ongoing work at Aberdeen Art Gallery, alongside a remarkable plasticine city …

We Built This City

As part of the Doors Open Days Festival 2016, Hoskins Architects invited visitors to take part in an experiment which we called ‘We Built This City!’ A grid of 190 empty squares was set up, and throughout the day visitors contributed their own plasticine designs for a city block to the grid. As the day went on, a very strange and heterogeneous city took shape – with much more accident, humour, coincidence, anomaly and eccentricity than any single author could possibly generate in a lifetime.

Plasticine is an unusual material for architectural models; but it is very fast to work with and also very biddable, and therefore imposes a minimum of resistance between an idea and its execution. Many of our makers were children, but something about plasticine and its connotations with childhood play, seems to have infected the efforts of the adults too. The contributions are therefore wild, instinctive, silly, and in the best sense deadly unserious. This city would not look as it does had the materials been cardboard, timber or resin, or had the makers been architects. In its extreme vitality, the completed work is a rich, joyous and exciting thing.

Aberdeen Art Gallery

This project, currently on site, tackles the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery: the wholesale reorganisation of the building’s interior, and the addition of a rooftop extension for temporary galleries and public terraces. The design process was lengthy, reflecting the complexities of radical reimagining of an existing listed building, and model making was central to the process. Four of these models – a representative selection across a range of scales and materials – are described and illustrated below.

Context Model 1:200

This model studies the massing, rhythms, scale and language of a small parcel of city: one building, a triangular piece of public realm, and its immediate edges. This is the context into which our proposal nestles and to which it seeks to respond.This is an interesting scale to work at: small enough to understand a bird’s-eye overview of the urban composition, and grasp the totality of the composition at once; but also large enough to test pedestrian eye level experiences from a range of locations by crouching down and peering into the spaces made by the model. To be able to shift between verifying the success of big organisational ideas, the aerial overview, and the fleeting pedestrian experience of approaching the project and moving around it, is invaluable.

Study Models 1:200

We made a series of models to test a suite of ideas about the rooftop element – both to assess their internal logic as convincing form, and to test the success of their contribution to the immediate context. These card models were set onto the previous context model before the final copper iteration you see there now was settled upon. How the new element and the existing roofscape relate to each other is, in many ways, the central concern of the project. Different strategies, each with their own implications for the arrangement of the internal programme, were tested quickly and thoroughly. Ideas about degrees of enclosure, about darting skyline presence, and about a form that feels like it adjusts itself to act as a good neighbour to the various domes it joins on the skyline, were proposed, tested, and refined through this process.

Sectional Model 1:50

A shift in scale, and a shift in model type. A 1:50 sectional model of the central sculpture court at Aberdeen Art Gallery was built at an early stage in the project, and allowed us to get understand the extremely complex spatial interactions between the existing fabric, the new rooftop element, and the new staircases connecting those parts. This model is carefully made, and looks like a model made to present a final idea, but that could not be further from the truth. It has been adjusted, reworked, broken, repaired, improvised with, and endlessly photographed, as we worked through our ideas and discarded iteration after iteration. This is a wonderful and provocative scale to work at: large enough for decisions about how elements come together to carry significance, and large enough to get your eye into the spaces made by the proposals, but also small enough to describe a full cross section of the building proposal in one object.

Façade Model 1:20

This 1:20 scale fragment of the facade is the largest scale model exhibited. It shows that it is not always the case that the scale is increased to add detail – here, the large scale model is still very abstract, and is used to assess the relationship between a human figure and the width, depth, and height of a set of ideas about a cladding module. The model convinced us of the validity of a scalloped language, and led us to seek technical solutions to achieve this. Importantly, we enjoyed the way the model was ambiguous as to the solidity of these scallops – inviting a reading both as solid, cast monolithic elements, and also suggesting lightweight, billowing, tensile structures. We have fought hard to imbue the finished proposals with something of this quality, and that aspiration has remained a touchstone for the team throughout the detailed design of the project.

January 2017

The National Theatre of Scotland’s opening reception for Rockvilla

We are pleased to announce the unveiling of Rockvilla - the new headquarters for the National Theatre of Scotland on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal in Glasgow - which was officially opened Monday 23 January 2017 by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs.

The evening’s opening reception welcomed guests with a spectacular sight: projected onto the façade were moving images that lit up the canal, and included a construction time-lapse and scenes from various past productions by the Company. Along with speeches by Fiona Hyslop, Councillor George Redmond and Dame Seona Reid, guests were invited to look around the newly opened building and meet some of the brilliant folk who produce, promote and facilitate the National Theatre of Scotland’s productions.

In keeping with the Company’s declaration of being a ‘Theatre Without Walls’ – committed to performing to diverse geographic audiences and engaging with the community - this new facility will not host public performances, but rather will be a creative engine room for the Company. Rockvilla will facilitate their expansion nationally and internationally, and will continue to reinvigorate a part of Glasgow that is fast becoming its cultural quarter.

The redevelopment of a disused industrial warehouse provides the Company with approximately 3700sqm of space over two levels, and incorporates: three rehearsal rooms of varying scales, a learning and community suite, wardrobe department, production workshop and technical store; plus office space and social areas.

You can see more about the project on our website, and watch the featured construction time-lapse here.

January 2017

Maquettes Exhibition

From study models used to test ideas to presentation models communicating our vision to others, models play an integral part of our design process.
This exhibition explores the role of the model as a design tool throughout the various stages of a project.

January 2017

The Inukshuk

Returning to work today we received a beautiful, thoughtful and touching gift from our friend and former colleague Chloe van Grieken, now living and working in Canada. The following description of her gift was written in the accompanying card.

The Inukshuk

Inuit word for “the image of man”; the Inukshuk was traditionally a stone structure used as a wayfinding device in the northern wilderness.

The Inukshuk provides direction, and guides the way. It is a marker of those that have travelled the path before us, and are watching out for us to ensure we don’t lose ourselves and our purpose.

As a structure, the Inukshuk is dependent on each individual stone, and requires balance and unity.

In more modern times, the Inukshuk has become a symbol of hope, safety and friendship, as well as symbolising the human spirit and the strength we can find in terms of adversity.

Thanks Chloe, we’ll cherish it.

January 2017

2016 - Reflection

As 2016 draws to a close we have taken time to review and reflect on what has been an extraordinary and tumultuous year, and look forward to 2017.

In early January, returning from the festive break, the staff at Hoskins Architects were rocked by the news that the firm’s hugely respected Principal was gravely ill in hospital. The gruelling week that followed culminated in the devastating news that we had lost the man who started our firm almost 18 years prior, and since cultivated our close-knit team, many of whom worked side by side with Gareth for well over a decade.

Over the challenging weeks that followed the inherent strengths of that team became ever more evident. Buoyed by the incredible outpouring of condolences from clients, contemporaries and friends alike, the team rallied to support one another, pulling together and focusing on carefully redistributing the numerous tasks Gareth undertook.

Throughout the year since, the team has been taking stock and planning the way forward for the studio. Formally implementing the changes required, engendered not least by the need for the company to adopt Gareth’s shareholding, is a necessarily lengthy process that is still on-going. To begin with though, and in recognition of the significant contributions they have made to the practice (throughout previous years as well as over the turbulent last twelve months), a number of colleagues have been promoted to new roles as Associates and Associate Directors, with our Board of Directors continuing above.

In spite of the effort required to get through this difficult period, our team not only pulled through but has continued to perform to the highest standards, delivering our customary excellence on our on-going projects, evidenced by the numerous awards gleaned for them, and winning new and exciting jobs.

During the year we’ve seen two major award-winning healthcare projects completed and opened to the public: Ballymena Health and Care Centre, in Northern Ireland, delivered in collaboration with Keppie Design; and Eastwood Health and Care Centre, just outside Glasgow which, as a hub reference design project, provides a benchmark for excellent, sustainable, and good value design for future health centres across Scotland. Eastwood went on to win the NHS Design Excellence Award, and the prestigious NHS Paul Taylor Award, with the centre at Ballymena bringing in a host of awards too.

Over the summer the £14.1 million third phase of the National Museum of Scotland’s redevelopment opened to the public, including 10 major new galleries dedicated to decorative art, design, fashion, science and technology.

Rockvilla, The National Theatre of Scotland’s £6.5 million headquarters in the Speirs Wharf regeneration area of Glasgow, completed on-site in November. The project repurposed a disused industrial warehouse, enabling the Company, for the first time to house all its rehearsal and production activity under one roof. NTS has moved in and will host an official opening in January 2017.

Also completed this year were the redesign of Berlin City Library’s interior and the first phase of our RIBA competition winning proposal for new dance and drama school for Bird College in South London.

As the year draws to a close we have a couple of projects, of very different scale and programme, finishing on-site and imminently due to complete: Hillside Gardens Lane is a project to deliver six luxurious townhouses in Glasgow’s West End for clients Noah Developments; on the other side of the country 3-8 St. Andrews Square, a significant, commercial, mixed-use development for Standard Life Investments, delivered in collaboration with CDA provides, provides 100,000 sq ft of much needed, Grade A office space, 70,000 sq ft prime retail, and a suite of luxury apartments in the heart of Edinburgh.

Currently on-site and due to complete next year is the Aberdeen Art Gallery redevelopment including its spectacular, copper-clad, rooftop extension. Also due to finish is the revitalisation of Vienna’s World Museum exhibition and visitor facilities, as well as a further two new NHS health centres in Blackburn, Midlothian and Firrhill in Edinburgh.

Work on the £16.8 million redevelopment for the Scottish National Gallery project, Celebrating Scotland’s Art, is due to start on-site in spring 2017. The project is set to treble the exhibition space for Scottish art, and vastly improve visitor access and circulation.  On nearby West Register Street, our office and retail development with client Chris Stewart Group will also start on site in 2017.

Working once again with the National Trust for Scotland, proposals for The Garden of Playfulness at Brodie Castle in Moray were recently submitted for planning, with design work progressing straight onto the next stage. Following review by the Salvation Army, revised proposals for the world famous site Strawberry Field, Liverpool have been developed and submitted for planning and we continue to develop proposals for the Royal High School in Edinburgh with clients Duddingston House.

Despite closing-in on the end of a few projects the practice remains extremely busy, with the buzz of a busy studio returned and some exciting new projects to be announced next year.

Gareth’s death – and other significant losses, felt more personally by some of our team – undoubtedly provoked reflection and re-evaluation for everyone affected. However, the arrival of no less than five beautiful, healthy, babies (and the joyous news of more to come), reminds us to look forward. With numerous new and exciting projects underway, and even more on the horizon we look forward to a relaxing Christmas break and coming back refreshed, to take on the challenges that 2017 brings us.

To all our wonderful colleagues, clients and contemporaries we send our warmest wishes for the forthcoming festive season.

December 2016

Berlin celebrates Christmas 2016

This year our Berlin office combined their annual Christmas dinner with a printmaking workshop. Hosted in an atmospheric art studio, the event combined outstanding food with printing using a range of mediums. As the wine flowed a wide range of images were produced, a selection of which accompany this post.

December 2016