GPAD gets planning approval for nine distinct family homes.

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Sitting amongst a green belt, the plot is located within existing mature woodland that forms a natural boundary to the neighbouring properties and the main road. The new single villa is configured to sit within the undulating topography and embed sensitively within the protected habitat. The low-carbon proposal features nine generously proportioned family homes that widen the offer available locally and support a community of all ages.

Inspired by the working buildings of the surrounding historic farm estates, the material palette and suite of details were developed to celebrate and reinterpret the use of traditional materials, form, and detailing. The timber frame and timber cladding will be constructed and clad from sustainable sources, dramatically reducing its embodied carbon. The material selection, as far as possible, is environmentally friendly with responsibly specified and robust choices that; make reference to their industrial heritage, are contextually suitable, and offer potential for future repair and reuse.

The pitched asymmetric roofs tier down to respond to the undulating site and culminate with a brick collar, which traditionally would have been the chimney stack but has been reinterpreted as a contemporary roof light. The feature provides an abundance of natural daylight and ventilation to circulation cores and top floor apartments. Internally, the upper floors utilise the roof geometry to create unique and distinct double height spaces whilst lower floors are sunken to further embed within the natural site topography.

Gareth Bansor, Director at GPAD adds “Delighted with the approval for New Road. A housing scheme that is truly sustainable inspired by the rural working buildings that once populated the surrounding historic farm estates. It clearly demonstrates the practice’s focus on whole-life carbon. Designed to passivhaus standards with on-site renewables and a mass timber construction it will deliver nine lowcarbon homes for local people set within an enhanced mature landscape that delivers a 17% increase in biodiversity.”

Featured in Building Design.

Full project information here.

Charles Bettes shares his thoughts on alternative routes into the profession of architecture in Building Design.

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ARB’s proposed education reforms offer the perfect opportunity to reimagine the profession, writes Charles Bettes

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The traditional three-part route to qualifying as an architect in the UK is outdated and exclusive. It doesn’t cater for those who can’t afford it or who learn in different ways; it hasn’t done enough to encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds and nor does it do enough to retain them.

During my education I felt that much of the course was focused on creating the ‘master architect’, which doesn’t relate to the real job done by most architects and is an outdated vision of what the architect should and could be. It also wasn’t what I wanted to be, which meant that I finished my Part 1 unsure about a career in the industry.

This master architect stereotype and training limits our areas of influence within the built environment and how we can communicate and relate to the rest of the team involved with creating buildings, as well as those who use them. For me, my interest in architecture started when I began working after my Part 1 and got experience on real projects in the city.

The skills I was able to learn and use whilst working felt far more real than what I felt was an overly conceptual environment at university. I was problem solving, building confidence by communicating with people, learning, thinking about the impact on the city and helping to build things.

For me these skills were more relevant and created a passion for the job. I always felt that there should be a different way to become an architect that was focused more on practice-based learning, where skills like problem solving, communication and analytical thinking can be celebrated and developed.

Anyone should have the opportunity to become an architect
During the pandemic, our practice talked about what we could do to support the industry and through discussions with POoR Collective, these conversations focused on how to make the industry more inclusive. Our views on education helped shape these conversations.

We shared the thought that anyone who has the passion and interest should have the opportunity to become an architect and that this should be achievable whilst earning a salary and learning in practice. Build The Way internship was our response to this and is focused on providing a real opportunity for someone with the right energy, drive, and passion to learn about and contribute to the built environment, but who had no architectural experience.

The intern would gain exposure to the industry and learn whilst contributing to live projects. They would develop office-based skills as well as architectural – computer modelling, CAD, etc. Whilst doing this they would earn a salary to ensure the opportunity was open to as many people as possible.

This was hard to make work from a business perspective; we are a small practice navigating a difficult market, but we felt that the internship had value and the interns could also add value back. That said it’s been one of the topics that has been hard to balance as we need to make sure Build The Way has longevity and can be expanded to other small practices.

It’s not just about alternative routes but new entry points too, which can help remove the financial barriers and help the profession be more inclusive.

The profession needs to be more responsive to learning styles, individual skills and the changing global context
A lot can change in seven years. Policies have changed and continue to do so, especially with tragic incidents such as Grenfell. As architects we have a responsibility to continue to learn and adapt the way we work to be able to create safe and responsible architecture.

Therefore the work place should already be a learning environment. That said, there feels like a large disconnect between the two and an opportunity to work together to strive for well-rounded architects with the skills to continuously learn and adapt to meet society’s needs and operate effectively within the industry.

There’s an opportunity for more learning to take place in practice, not only easing the financial burden on students who can earn while they learn, but also to provide a feedback loop between education and practice.

Being a partner practice at the London School of Architecture (LSA) over the past few years has opened our eyes to the change that can happen with a more collaborative approach. And the internship has also shown us that there are some areas that practice is not set up to teach. We’ve also learned that some people may still benefit from full time education, but there needs to be a choice.

The emergence of new training options, such as the RIBA’s Level 6 & 7 apprenticeship and LSA’s Part 4 modular learning, represents a great step forward. There’s an appetite for change and it excites us when we’re thinking about how to expand Build The Way and how we can partner with other internship/learning programmes.

Changing the perception of an architect
Architects have a varied reputation amongst society, often being seen as too egotistical, too expensive, too male, too white. The ARB reviewing their current accreditation system offers an opportunity to reframe what an architect is and does in relation to society and other areas of the built environment. Practice can support this change.

It feel like an opportunity to broaden the concept, celebrate the diversity of skills, approaches and backgrounds that an architect possesses, as well as reassessing how we participate in the built environment. It is also a chance to broaden who plays this role as a designer, making the profession more relevant, adaptable and equitable.

We need to ensure that practice and education supports the growth of these individuals

Architects have a range of skills and play a range of roles in the shaping of our built environment. We need to ensure that practice and education supports the growth of these individuals in a way that ensures high quality training, but allows for specialism and individualism.

We hope Build The Way will play a part in breaking down the stereotype of who an architect is by supporting and encouraging underrepresented groups and providing a more affordable route into the profession. Our aim with this programme is to inspire more people to explore a career in architecture and create a blueprint to support smaller organisations hire entry level positions for longer periods.

This isn’t ground-breaking or wildly innovative – it’s about creating options and opportunities, and creating an industry which is progressive and accepts change is necessary.


Adding value to office design through roof terraces; featured in OnOffice

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Due to recent circumstances the necessity for outdoor space has never been more important, not only due to the pandemic but also the general move towards improving mental and physical wellbeing within the workplace. With the average person spending 30% of their life working and the move back to office environments commencing, outdoor office space is a crucial amenity.

Currently on site, White Lion Street, is GPAD’s largest project to date. The new development is a seven storey office building in the heart of Angel, Islington. White Lion Street introduces a contemporary identity through materiality and an open floorplate design, creating much needed workspace in the area.

When the planning application was originally made back in 2018, the main focus for the developers was leading towards maximising net internal area as this is what their profits are based on. Now, more recently, we have seen a shift in tenant priorities due to employers prioritising the health and wellbeing of their employees. This created an opportunity to make a separate application whilst the site is in its construction phase to include more outside space.

Conscious to not reduce the internal workspace available, the new terraces were placed in areas which were originally flat roofs. The large roof terrace will include seating and biodiversity with wildflower planting. To ensure minimal overlooking, the design includes green screening, using a biodiverse range of tall planting and trees to minimise overlooking and provide better aspect views for the surrounding residents.

There has always been rental premium attached to space that has access to outside space, whether communal or private. However, in recent years there has been a shift in the priority for wellness in occupants for office landlords and agents. Since the beginning of the pandemic, wellness has been further promoted and deemed essential in welcoming back staff to the workspace.

For a while now we have seen the benefits of increasing indoor plants into the office, increasing oxygen and for better brain productivity. By introducing more than just seating on terraces you create a calming atmosphere with prolonged benefits. GPAD’s relationship with John Davies Landscape has showcased how their designs are more than the architecture but the environment they produce. Their award winning design for Stylus is an example of how a smaller terrace can embody a soothing environment through striking seating, planting and green walls.

Continuing their work with John Davies Landscape earlier this summer, GPAD developed a sustainable urban environment atop Tailors Corner, a new commercial refurbishment in Leeds. The creation of the garden contributes to urban greening and can help form a network of wildlife corridors, encouraging biodiversity. Not only do we notice the physical and mental health benefits introducing a roof terrace to the workplace but also the opportunity for social interaction and inclusion. Not to exclude the functional purpose of a roof terrace; for meetings, break out and lunchtime spaces.

16 Eastcheap, a refurbishment of a late-Victorian building by GPAD, includes a new roof terrace with the aim to reduce work related stress for tenants and increase workplace productivity through improving memory and focus. As well as the health benefits, the new terrace reconnects the experience of the building to its central location by unlocking panoramic views across the city.

For commercial buildings to thrive they need to stay relevant and adjust to the requirements of the tenants. This involves tackling the bigger questions currently being raised around the future of the office and how will they look post-pandemic. With a large focus on mental wellbeing in the workplace and how to encourage positive productivity, external workspaces are a step in the right direction and one GPAD are keen to continue to pursue in future developments.

As featured in OnOffice.