Writer: Gem Barton
The first in a series of articles written by those deep in the heart of the most exciting architecture and design studios. Curated by Gem Barton “The view from the insider” series will showcase processes, products, individuals and more, that make the behind-the-scenes practices run so smoothly.
“View from the Insider” at Studio Weave by Architectural Assistant, Esme Fieldhouse
What do the following have in common: instruments that listen to giants, birds that make colour and Persian soldiers in the Middle Ages?
Not a convoluted joke but three examples of projects I’ve worked on at Studio Weave. When I began architecture school nine years ago, I never dreamt that I would be able to write stories as part of the job. Studio Weave and I first crossed paths when I decided to write about the Floating Cinema, while working at Blueprint magazine.
A growing preoccupation of mine as a student was with what architects could learn from the characters of the city, where different personalities talk to each other and disagree about certain things. All along, Studio Weave was sharing the thought that the physical environment, its layers of history and the individual experience of these are all intertwined.
Our recently completed project at the Robert Adam-designed Kedleston Hall, Derby, began with a story about a giant inhabiting the landscape and the scientific listening instruments brought in to detect him, called the Hear Heres. This grew into designs for four interactive sculptures that The brief had called for something that would draw visitors to the National Trust property into the expansive parkland and encourage exploration using all the senses.
The Ecology of Colour now stands as jolly custodian for a reimagined park in Dartford, Kent. The timber-clad structure is an outdoor classroom, arts studio and bird-watching hide all rolled into one. The project is more than just the building, however, it’s part of a programme of events based around dyeing and wildlife as well as planting a meadow of flowers that yield natural dyes and beckon wildlife. At the very beginning I was charged with building the argument for an ecology of colour; as an avid bird-lover and sometime twitcher, I was more than happy to take this on.
New Windows in Willesden Green saw 25 designers paired with local shop owners to animate shopfront in the run up to Christmas and proved to be a refreshingly creative approach to high street regeneration. From conversations with our client, who ran a kebab restaurant, I developed ‘The Story of the Kebab’ with an illustrator to delight customers and passers-by with the rich heritage of Turkish hospitality and cooking.
The stories at Studio Weave are not bolt-ons or retrospective descriptions but intrinsic to the design process and very often a fruitful starting point. In my eyes this is why all projects in the practice, although diverse, consistently offer a strong sense of place that responds to the inherent character of a site, while not always predictable.
From Studio Weave: “Esme lives in Hackney and is quite possibly its biggest fan. She studied at the University of Nottingham followed by Dundee, graduating with a Masters in Architecture. Prior to joining Studio Weave, Esme worked at Blueprint Magazine and continues to be a freelance writer. Her pastimes include birdwatching and making greetings cards just for bikes.”