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Old April 28th, 2006, 12:15 AM   #101
frozenmusic
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cool, cheers jrb, has chips started yet?
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Old April 28th, 2006, 12:21 AM   #102
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cool, cheers jrb, has chips started yet?
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Old April 28th, 2006, 01:29 AM   #103
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Some travellors have moved in today by the looks of it.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 01:37 AM   #104
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Fat Houses are here!

What do you make of them now this quite astonishing project is now largely complete?





The following articles taken from Building Design Magazine. Sorry about the length but its well worth a read.


Quote:
The last laugh
28 April 2006



S n i g g e r all you want, but Fat's weird and wonderful Woodward Place in Manchester's New Islington has been delivered with exemplary care and manifest artistry.

By Ellis Woodman

In the run-up to this week's completion of its Woodward Place development in Manchester, Fat's media profile has risen exponentially. Practice partners, Sean Griffiths, Charles Holland and Sam Jacobs have enjoyed a string of profiles in the trade press and broadsheets. One suspects that the practice might have enjoyed the coverage rather more, however, had it not been so quick to claim them as "architectural pranksters".

While it is clearly a statutory requirement to include this term in all discussion of Fat's work I know it is a phrase that sets the partners' teeth on edge. That said, it is not hard to see where the perception comes from. Fat's reworking of material that its peers would ordinarily dismiss as unspeakable kitsch certainly harbours a humorous intent. To be more precise, Fat's sensibility is in no small part a satirical one. But against who or what is the satire directed? Certainly at the reductive world-view proffered by mainstream modernists. Fat is at war with the glib utopianism of so much architectural production of the last century.

However, as sympathetic as I am to that cause, my appreciation of the practice's output has often been hampered by the suspicion that this might not be the only target in its cross hairs. Take a project such as its entry in the 1998 Millennium Bridge competition. Doubling as a memorial to Princess Diana, it incorporated an expanse of lawn for the laying out of floral tributes and the lyrics of Elton John's Candle in the Wind 1997 carved in gigantic times roman capitals along its stone balustrades. The gleeful accommodation of popular or - let's not mince words - working-class taste was clearly intended as an assault on bourgeois aesthetic certainties. However even as a willing victim of such needling, this and other projects left me troubled. The question remained as to what Fat's feelings were towards the crowds laying the flowers in its poker-faced computer renderings. Was this monument to mawkishness not also a joke at their expense?

If the practice has previously lacked a killer rebuff to such suggestions, it surely has it now in the form of Woodward Place. This social housing scheme within the Alsop-planned New Islington development relocates 23 families from the soon-to-be-demolished Cardroom Estate. Its residents committee not only selected Fat as its architect in competition but has been intimately involved in the scheme's design through a rolling programme of consultation. Whatever jokes are at play here, the residents are in on them.



The rendered rear elevation. The colours were specified by the residents from a pallette devised by Fat.

New Islington lies a half-mile east of Manchester City Centre. Eventually, the 31-acre site will accommodate 1,400 homes laid out around an expanded network of canals. Development was predicated on the demolition of the existing 1970s estate and the rehousing of its tenants within the new scheme. The consortium behind New Islington - which includes developer, Urban Splash, and appointed social landlord, the Manchester Methodist Housing Group - initially proposed that the Cardroom residents should be peppered throughout the new buildings. However, consultation revealed widespread resistance to the idea of moving from houses to apartments and strong support for keeping the existing community together. Accordingly, it was decided that the Cardroom families would be allocated two stand-alone projects at the north of the site. Later this year Fat's scheme will be joined by the second of these - a smaller scheme designed by DMFK Architects.

Many of the Cardroom's residents have lived on the estate since its construction almost 30 years ago. The consultation process revealed happy memories of life there until the early nineties when depopulation and high levels of crime began to blight the community. By the end of that decade only half of the 204 homes were occupied. Residents attributed a considerable part of the blame to the perforate layout of the old estate. The arrangement was widely perceived as one that laid homes open to burglary and vandalism.

Fat's scheme answers those concerns with recourse to a typology with strong roots in the north of England. The houses are laid out in two back-to-back terraces, the rear gardens of which give onto a gated alley. The scheme incorporates bungalows for the elderly and disabled and a pair of three-storey houses. However, the standard dwelling is a three-bed house arranged over two storeys. Its L-shaped plan is configured around an entrance yard scaled to allow for off-street parking. On the ground floor, the living room sits at the front with a WC in the middle of the plan and a kitchen-cum-dining room occupying the full width of each plot to the rear. Both the dining and living areas enjoy a double aspect through the introduction of secondary glazing onto the yard. Upstairs is given over to the bedrooms and a bathroom while an oriel window enlarges the landing to provide a designated place for home working.



The development is part of Alsop’s New Islington masterplan.


The houses have been designed in accordance with Lifetime Homes principles so the ground floor plan can effectively become a self-contained unit if residents lose mobility as they grow older. This has led to the ground floor WC being designed so that it can be adapted to serve as a wheelchair-accessible shower room, while the first floor joists have been trimmed to allow for the future installation of a lift.

The care that has gone into the planning of this layout is exemplary. But save for the staircase balustrades, which have been CNC cut with a repeated decorative motif, the interior of each house is essentially conceived as a blank canvas that residents can make their own. Fat has reserved its architectural firepower for the scheme's exterior treatment.

The L-shaped plan - which is mirrored from house to house - lends the terraces a distinctive notched profile. However, the presence of the yards is disguised from the street by a single-storey wall within which sets of folding timber doors have been located. This measure serves to tie the front facades of the houses into a continuous street elevation. It is constructed in a very different manner from the recessed walls that address the yard.

While they are finished in that staple of modernist social housing, white render, the front elevation is a riot of kaleidoscopically patterned, polychromatic brick. The pattern that has been employed - a series of super-scaled diamonds - pulses around the building with cheerful disregard for the location of door and window openings. Its scale has been gauged in relation to Woodward Place's ultimate situation within the New Islington masterplan.



gated alley runs between the back to back terraces

When the scheme is completed, eight broadly parallel streets will run through the entire site, terminating in a 2ha waterpark at the south. Fat's building runs perpendicular to this grain and will close the vista at the north end of three of the streets. The mysterious colour changes that occur within the diamond pattern are also a response to this arrangement: they correspond to the location of the buildings to the south so that each vista is closed by a subtly different treatment.

The front facade's autonomy from the volumes it encloses is further enforced by its extension above the roofline. Like a scene from Tombstone, Arizona, the facade ascends above the building proper, cheekily suggesting something rather grander than the reality. In places this parapet accommodates dummy openings - inviting a reading of the building behind as three storeys rather than two. In others it offers cookie-cutter approximations of castellations, the gable of a Dutch canal house and even the profile of a tree.



View of one of the entrance yards with the oriel window that accommodates a designated work area projecting at first floor level.


The treatment of the windows and the projecting balconies below are equally associative. The scale of the first floor windows is accentuated through the introduction of white-painted surrounds. To my eyes these carried a heavy whiff of the Bavarian baroque although the architect assures me they derive from Russian timber vernacular buildings. The balconies follow the language of the internal staircases, each featuring one of a range of different decorative motifs, cut into their white painted balustrades.

This whole jumble sale of weird and wonderful material would, of course, be worth precious little were it not for the fact that Fat has organised it with such manifest artistry. While the architects' status as polemicists has never been in doubt, these elevations betray them as designers keenly attuned to questions of architectural scale and hierarchy.

This sensibility clearly owes a significant debt to Fat's spiritual grandparents, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Many of the formal strategies employed - the flattening, the enlarging, the use of variable scales within a single composition - are familiar from the Venturis' work. Nonetheless, the voice that emerges is very much Fat's own. The two firms may share a common ambition - to make work that is situated at once within the worlds of high architecture and popular taste - but their architecture is really as different as the contexts within which they are practicing. Seen in context, much of the oddness of the Venturis' buildings is revealed as being entirely of a piece with the nature of the American vernacular landscape.

Similarly, as shocking as Woodward Place may be within the context of current British architectural production, a visit reveals the building as a remarkably plausible proposition. The language on display is certainly no less fruity than much of 19th century Manchester - the Venetian gothic Ancoats Hospital that sits at the end of the same street being a prime example. Given the authorship of the surrounding masterplan, one can safely speculate that much of the new architecture will be no less rambunctious.


The internal staircases are CNC cut in the manner of the external balustrades.


But what of the residents? Well, the ones I spoke to loved it. With ornaments on windowsills and dummy fireplaces in living rooms, they were already beginning to tune the image of their individual homes. It is a process that shows every sign of consolidating rather than detracting from the architect's design ambitions.

Crucially, as associative as the architecture may be, its myriad motifs are both sufficiently abstracted and sufficiently diverse in origin that the building resists any fixed reading. The image it presents is an open-ended and ultimately generous one - ripe for appropriation by the diverse fantasies of its users.


The kitchen/dining room is located at the rear of the plan.



Fat partner Charles Holland will give the first lecture of the Open House Contemporary Summer Lecture Series on May 23 at 6.30pm at Cube, 113-115 Portland Street, Manchester. Other lecturers in the series will be: Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre on June 7; Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad on June 21; and Stephen Witherford of Witherford Watson Mann on July 5.






Quote:
Woodward Place housing, New Islington, Manchester




For this development of 23 social housing units Fat has worked closely with the residents to make a strong urban street frontage using conventional construction techniques and incorporating symbolic references to the idea of home.

New Islington is an ex-industrial area so the canals and land have had to be treated to remove contaminates. Piled foundations support ground beams and
load-bearing masonry cavity walls. The ground floor has a beam and block structure which is ventilated to the outside via telescopic vents.

The first floor and roof are timber and the roof has an aluminium sheet finish.The street facade is brick, precisely set out by the architects in a criss-cross pattern using three different coloured bricks. Timber windows are recessed with almost a full brick reveal and the variety of shapes and sizes makes a lively elevation.

The brick wall is capped by a glass reinforced plastic (GRP) parapet which swoops and dives along the street linking the Dutch gabled fronts of the houses in a continuous line. The GRP is prefabricated in 1 to 1.5m lengths and fixed to the masonry with metal clips. L-shaped steel wind posts concealed in the masonry walls and fixed into the roof structure help support the freestanding gables.

Balconies at first floor are supported by steel beams tied back to the floor structure. The balustrade is made of 150mm-wide timber planks CNC cut with a pattern and screwed to the steel structure from behind.

Last edited by SleepyOne; April 28th, 2006 at 01:54 AM.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 01:52 AM   #105
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What I make of them Sleepy is that they're bloody wonderful. I know they've had mixed plaudits, but I really can't see why. How I wished that my 1887 red brick terraced house looked like something other than yet another 1887 terraced house! Much as I love it.....

I'll read that article in full tomorrow. I've been reading project proposals at work all day today, and I can't read no more! Cheers for posting that.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 10:37 AM   #106
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I really like them too, I love to see colour on houses instead of just red brick and grey roofing slates. They look a million times better than anything in their vacinity.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM   #107
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Yes they look magnificent don't they? The attention to detail is incredible and is something all social housing projects should aspire to. So many different ideas and yet it all seems to work. Hopefully Woodward Place will prove to be an analogy for a completed New Islington.

New Islintgon seems to have taken an age to reach the point of its first phase completing on site. I can definitely say its worth the wait. Hopefully all phases will be as good as this. Perhaps someone could get some more shots? I sense now that this development is gaining momentum with the water, the park, the Ancoats Hospital site and CHIPS seeing activity. Hopefully now we will see some serious constuction activity on a number of sites now a lot of the ground work has been done or is on its way.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #108
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I think they are gimmicky and pretentious and will date very very badly. I dont like them one bit
BUT
they are fantastic for Manchester and something for the architectural community to take note of. They dont pander to the lowest common denominators of design and are not so arrogant as to presume what the 'public' want from their homes.
Just because i dont like them it doesnt mean that they shouldnt be applauded.
This development is a GOOD thing!

The Longford has spoken!
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Old April 28th, 2006, 09:18 PM   #109
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and we are grateful

permission to touch the hem of your garment master?
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Old April 28th, 2006, 09:27 PM   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolybling
and we are grateful

permission to touch the hem of your garment master?
Granted!
But not all at once!
It can get awfully tiresome being adored constantly.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #111
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Well Im not surprised that someone who's taste is skewed to modernist structures turns out not to be a fan of these buildings but ultimately what they boil down to is a row of two storey terraced houses - which is as far as you get from being "gimmiky" or "pretentious".
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Old April 29th, 2006, 10:23 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Longford
I think they are gimmicky and pretentious and will date very very badly. I dont like them one bit
BUT
they are fantastic for Manchester and something for the architectural community to take note of. They dont pander to the lowest common denominators of design and are not so arrogant as to presume what the 'public' want from their homes.
Just because i dont like them it doesnt mean that they shouldnt be applauded.
This development is a GOOD thing!
They won't date at all. They'll look exactly the same in 50 years, like mad neo-Flemish town houses, beautifully situated in precisely the wrong environment. Fantastic.

The Low Countries in particular seem to embrace the quirky and unusual. There are little bits of mad and seemingly pointless architecture dotted all around those places, and Scandinavia/Germany too.

Isn't it all brilliant?!!!
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Old April 29th, 2006, 10:34 PM   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jongeman
They won't date at all. They'll look exactly the same in 50 years, like mad neo-Flemish town houses, beautifully situated in precisely the wrong environment. Fantastic.

The Low Countries in particular seem to embrace the quirky and unusual. There are little bits of mad and seemingly pointless architecture dotted all around those places, and Scandinavia/Germany too.

Isn't it all brilliant?!!!
The examples you state are not self consciously mad but just happen to be that way because of a quirk of history. This development is so 'cool' and 'knowing' and therefore pretentious and is just plonked down - not developed organically like the examples you give.
Come on sleepy - wake up! Everybody loves these houses for exactly the reason that they NOT just a row of two storey terraced houses.
Yes i admit to being a modernistic skew but because of this i like good solid, non fussy nonsense and confection - exactly what this development is.

Dont condemn me for my opinion on this please - like i said i think this is a positive thing (we need to go out on a limb every now and again - push the envelope so to speak) i just dont like it!
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Old April 29th, 2006, 10:55 PM   #114
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Fair enough

Let's face it, compared with 20 years ago, Manchester's definitely got a cool and slightly pretentious air about it. It's a lot wealthier for a start.

I'm not talking about Flemish town houses developing organically which of course, they did, or being mad which they're not, but you do sometimes you see totally kind of perverse architecture in European towns, next to all the old stuff. Damn, I can't think of a good example, but I do think there's a place for unashamedly....how can I put this.....silly and pretentious stuff too.

Let's wait for New Islington is complete to see how it works together and fits in with this bit of the city. It may stand out like a sore thumb......?

Last edited by Jongeman; April 29th, 2006 at 11:30 PM.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 11:13 PM   #115
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No examples need shlongeman!
i know what you mean!
Like this perhaps?


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Old April 29th, 2006, 11:29 PM   #116
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Yeah, that kinda stuff, maybe a bit more subtle.
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Old April 29th, 2006, 11:48 PM   #117
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Quote:
The examples you state are not self consciously mad but just happen to be that way because of a quirk of history. This development is so 'cool' and 'knowing' and therefore pretentious and is just plonked down - not developed organically like the examples you give.
Come on sleepy - wake up! Everybody loves these houses for exactly the reason that they NOT just a row of two storey terraced houses.
Yes i admit to being a modernistic skew but because of this i like good solid, non fussy nonsense and confection - exactly what this development is.

Dont condemn me for my opinion on this please - like i said i think this is a positive thing (we need to go out on a limb every now and again - push the envelope so to speak) i just dont like it!
These buildings are in so many ways, really quite traditional. Manchester city centre is full of buildings that present a highly ornate facade to the street with plainer treatments to less prominent facades. Many of them nearly 100 years old. Woodward Place is no less fussy, self conscious or self indulgent than the likes of the St James's Buildings or Lloyds Bank. Personally I think its about time modern architecture diversified from giving us the usual pared down simplicity and clean lines (much as I find such aesthetics appealing) and indulged in decoration-for-the-sake-of-it now and again. Please don't think I am condemning your opinion. If you want to call them pretentious, fair enough. I just think its a case of things going full circle back to a traditional way of applying a facade to a building and as such I find it a breath of fresh (recycled?) air.
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Old April 30th, 2006, 01:01 AM   #118
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Yep sleepy you are right. i dont disagree with anything you say.
You have wisdom beyond your bedtime.

I'm not in the mood to disagree after the Rooney/Owen blindside.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:04 AM   #119
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Thank you for that information, SleepyOne.



All: I think the front of the houses are OTT, but there are some good aspects to this scheme. Particularly when you compare them to the terraced houses in Chimneypot Park. They have room, parking spaces, colour, interest, and gardens.



The thing is to learn from each build and change a bit here and there to make things ever righter and better. Next time can somebody design those sheds away? A projection from the back of each house would give a little patio privacy and a place to put stuff. And move the downpipes to the end of each property. Thanks.

Last edited by Farsight; May 1st, 2006 at 10:09 AM.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 03:56 PM   #120
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They certainly make a change from row upon row of Victorian terraces. It's kind of annoying that in a city that lacks sunshine there are so many stained red brick houses- they look rather depressing in the rain (not saying it's particularly rainy in Manchester). This scheme provides colour- which is what we need more of in Manchester.
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