I have always been a big believer in the importance of architects having hands on experience in construction and fabrication so that they/we truly understand the craft.
Welcome to Atelier-day!
On the first Friday of each month we put away the mouse and keyboard, step away from our desks, and turn the office into a true workshop. It is a day of exploration and testing of ideas in a real and tangible way. There are no rules. We can mock up details that we are developing for a current project, or work in different media and let things evolve organically. The point is the total departure from the typical business day and the total immersion in craft. It is a day to create, sculpt, explore, test, make mistakes, and learn from it all.
For our first Atelier-day we decided to mock up various railing designs that we are currently proposing on a residential project. There is a stair in the project that connects the second floor of a busy household to the new “attic retreat”. This stair is to be clad in taut maple veneer plywood wall panels that extend vertically past the Attic Floor and serve as the guard rail for the floor above. As you ascend the stair the solid panels break down and become more porous through a gradation of perforations, which allow the natural light through to dapple the stair. The stair is a significant moment of transition, a place to exhale as the homeowners escape to this private retreat within their home. The design of the stair is a quiet expression of this sentiment.
By creating these physical mockups, new potentials for the guardrail paneling were revealed. It was no longer only a question of hole quantity, pattern, and size, but also a three-dimensional consideration of how repetition would occur between panels, how the panel edge becomes part of the design, how the thickness of and layers within the plywood are considered, and how the light which passes through the openings creates yet another pattern. We are excited to share our work with the clients and the millworkers, and the conversations that will ensue.