We design architecture for all: inclusive, barrier free and participatory


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Discovering new spaces during the lockdown.

Being part of the 8 O’clock NHS clap yesterday made me think about how we are using our spaces, both public and private, so differently at the moment. We opened our physio space window, so that we shared a space with the tenements on Marlborough street, and the houses on our side of Marlborough street, which have adjoining gardens to ours. Usually the tenements seem a long way away, but the communal activity of collectively thanking the NHS (at a time when there is such a restriction on communal activities) made an unusual public space, both horizontally, and sectionally. Each of the bay windows (a valuable space that sits between public and private) were opened and people leaned out to be part of the aural cheer of encouragement and gratitude, making a new public space of connection that we need so much at this time.

I have noticed during the lockdown how people are drawn to their windows, which suddenly become connecting places to the outside world, the sun, fresh air, gazing into the distance, waving at a neighbour.  In the Ramp house, we have been looking at all our windows, and working out how to use them better. Some of this just involves moving piles of books, so that the flow between inside and outside works again. We have also looked at windows that can be occupied for different activities – sometimes putting a cushion on the window sill, to remember to sit there, sometimes more building work is needed like in our attic space “Little Venice” (more in a future blog), but all the kind of building we can do during lockdown, re-using building materials we might have otherwise discarded (Greta loves nothing better than ratcheting old screws out of old timber, to be used again). 

My favourite occupation of window space so far is the corner greenhouse window, where we are growing sweet peas, broad beans and one pea (from a packet that was 6 years old!). The green inside the corner window connects the eye to our neighbour’s wonderful wild garden we look onto. Best of all, every day, in this lockdown that is counted in days, there is change. The seedlings and plants never look the same: each day they reach closer to the sun, and looking to the future, they will continue to change and grow, and reach for the sun. 


 

During these difficult times Chambers McMillan Architects are still able to work from our studio, adjacent to our home, and are continuing to progress projects, the only limitations being the on site stage.  Meetings will be virtual, but we are happy to hear from you:  design process on new projects can be via FaceTime,  Skype, or Zoom.


these options for a small accessible home on a narrow urban site can be developed for different briefs and sites. the core of the concept is how to live inclusively and accessibly in a small footprint, with enjoyable spaces that connect well, producing a home which has both variety and is a supportive environment

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an accessibly highland bothy around an existing stone barn

 

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This project was to convert a church hall, which had been a much loved nursery, into a compact accessible living space. Using the front of the hall and carving out a courtyard to allow light into the depth of the spaces, arranged around the courtyard, giving each of them a connection to outside private space, as well as longer views out of the front. Each space has its own character, further enhanced by the colour and choice of materials and objects considerately placed by the client. Spatial and visual connections between each room were of great importance, to make a small place feel spacious.

As an existing church hall, the building already had a presence on the wide street, with its variety of scales of townhouses. With the ramp crossing the whole width of the building, a layering was set up, which we continued with layers of timber on the rendered front wall. The timber connects to the burnt larch timber cladding in the inner courtyard.

The client for the project was very hands on. From the design process through the whole build process, where she managed all the trades, and was involved in parts of the construction, including scorching all the burnt larch for the cladding herself (and really beautifully!)

The project is sustainable, in the decision to re-use an existing building which was no longer suitable for its purpose, in its choice of building materials, and just as importantly, in its inclusive, accessible nature.  With a ramped entrance to get to a level ground floor with a main bedroom, wet room, and living and kitchen space, as well as a small snug / second bedroom. The roof space has been converted into a third bedroom and wet room. The accessible concept makes it a lifetime home for anyone.

 

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