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    A brief history of 4th year

    Chris Hildrey Aug 23 '08 1

    As mentioned in my last post I'm going to give a quick description of 4th year at the Bartlett. I've had a few emails from people looking at/coming to the Bartlett looking for info. I too looked to archinect when I was about to start and it was so useful to get an idea of what I was heading into, so I'll try to return the favour with some up to date info.

    Now, the Bartlett - as you may know - can be a pretty conceptual place. So much so in fact that a few years ago some concerns were expressed about the practicality of the diploma program. As a result the first year of the diploma now features a Design Realisation project which is a technical report on your 4th year design project. Those two and the history and theory essay (~4000 words) make up the three compulsory 4th year modules.

    As thrilling as it sounds, it's actually an incredibly important stage to go through. Undergrad schools in the UK span the gamut from uber technical to out-there conceptual and I was situated firmly towards the latter, managing to get to diploma having only drawn about 2 details. It's fair to say the learning curve was pretty steep.

    The report itself covers everything you might expect - from site analysis through to structure, fire, acoustics, cladding, etc. However, each report can be tailored to the individual project. My project was for a cigar house so became more biased towards materials, fire safety and so on.

    I have a bit of my project on my laptop, so I'll c+p the blurb:



    At the heart of Mayfair lies Bourdon House - a £14.5m property currently being transformed into a private members’ club by Dunhills. This project proposes the insertion of a cigar house into a 7m wide adjoining plot. As an annex to the club it will be accessible only by members.

    Tobacco is imported from ten different tobacco growing regions at the point of harvest and is treated, rolled and smoked within the building. The programme, restricted site, and affluence of the club combine to produce an intensely sensual experience surrounded by the bespoke. It is a mutually dependent contradiction of spatial modesty and material luxury.





    Site shown as red next to Bourdon House


    The cigar menu. By treating the tobacco on site, members can select and combine fillers, binders and wrappers rather than selecting a predefined cigar. 480,000 combinations are possible.


    A bad crop from a series of renders showing prefabricated steel structure arriving to site.


    One of the bespoke elements. Based on a smoking pipe, the 'object' is split by a floor level at the point of the material change. The Briar wood section collects cigar smoke which is then carried up and ventilated into an open area above. Some of the smoke collects in the ebonite top section which becomes one part of a fragrance garden where the members develop their palette through smell. Figuring out how to cantilever the Brair wood was a major headache.


    Brass finished anodised steel facade shading system. This is used to shade the interior while still allowing tobacco to sun-cure behind.


    After the Design Realisation we were able to focus in on one part of the project and take it where we wanted. For me the idea of channelling smoke with solid surfaces seemed a little mundane. I was interested in how you might engage with the smoke more and potentially channel it but not fully enclose it. I started by looking at how smoke 'sticks' to porous surfaces.


    That lead to a porous concrete structure (it's worth noting that this was a surface investigation - it could be a small pavilion or large a building. It was ambiguous at this stage).


    The holes in the concrete were too large even if you put a small inferno beneath them. Waste tobacco leaves were braided to produce a porous skin that could exploit their tensile strength to hang off the structure.


    An internal doorway using the braided surface.


    A close up of the brading structure.

     

     
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