Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt acts as consultant on the Houses of Parliament’s historic ventilation system

On Friday 21st February 2014, Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt gave a presentation at Westminster on the Victorian ventilation system of the House of Lords chamber. It focused on the development of its design between 1840 and 1854 as well as its environmental performance. He presented detailed reconstructions of the Victorian system, which he had produced as part of his ongoing research into the Palace of Westminster’s ventilation system. It is the first study to investigate the design, historical evolution and performance of the system in full depth, combining archival research, drawn reconstructions and technical analysis. The historic system had fallen into disuse since the 1940s, when a modern mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning was introduced, but the objective of the current inquiries is to investigate the feasibility of re-utilising parts of the historic system through the development of a hybrid ventilation system, which combines mechanical systems with natural stack ventilation. This is to form part of the Palace restoration project.

In the afternoon after the talk Dr Schoenefeldt and the chief environmental engineer Andrew Piper studied the surviving historic features of the system. Through Dr Schoenefeldt’s research it was possible to find many of the hidden historic features and he was able to explain the original function of these features. This involved climbing up into various air channels below and above the House of Lords, including the roof spaces, turrets and ventilation towers used for the extraction and supply of air. The two were able to uncover many of the historic features that are currently covered or bricked up, including the original perforated iron floor used to admit fresh air into the Lords chamber and the various ventilation grills in the walls and under the benches of the galleries. These are to be continued over the next few months and Henrik will be involved in a feasibility study of using a stack ventilation system that utilises large parts of the Victorian system.

This presentation was a major milestone in Dr Schoenefeldt’s work on the historic system. Following the submission of a report to the House of Commons Commission in January 2013, which was based on the findings of research conducted by Dr Schoenefeldt over the previous two years, he was invited by the Parliamentary Estate Department to act as a consultant on the historic stack ventilation system. Since November 2013 he has been working on a study of the House of Lords chamber. In January 2014 he submitted a detailed report of this study and he is currently working on another study, focusing on the ventilation of the River Front. This will be the subject of another report, to be presented in Westminster in April this year. An application for a detailed feasibility study is to be prepared.

Dr Schoenefeldt to give public lecture at Sheffield-Hallam University

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt will be giving an evening lecture on his ongoing research into the historic ventilation system of the Houses of Parliament.

Henrik had been invited to give a talk at the architecture department of the Sheffield-Hallam University. He will be presenting the findings of his more recent studies on the evolution of the ventilation system and the technical experimentation underlying its development.

The design of the House of Lords, which had been the subject of a report produced as part of his engagement in the Palace Restoration Project, will also be discussed. For further details go to: http://integreatplus.com/events/henrik-schoenefeldt-rediscovering-past-environmental-principles-house-parliament.

Art and Design Foundation – Container Project

The Art and Design Foundation students have had their final critique today for the Container Project. The students were asked to design and produce a container which could be used to house a special type of object. Each container had to be made from materials which were readily available and the container must fit inside a cube of 600mm.

During this project, students were encouraged to identify and overcome any problems they encountered. Each student kept a diary of their progress and developed a range of ideas through different mediums: drawings, collage and model making. Once they had chosen their final idea, each student made their container and presented their finished project to the group.

Stretching Shelf by Yasemin Toygar
Stretching Shelf by Yasemin Toygar

Yasemin produced a stretching shelf to fit in her student accommodation and enable her to keep all the gym equipment she has tidy. She designed shelves for her dumbbells as well as shelves for her books and DVD’s. An interesting addition to Yasemin’s design was the top section of her container which was she designed to hold her gym mat.

RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Peter Loader

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

RIBA South/South East’s Student Mentoring Scheme 2013/2014 Record

Initial Meeting 14/11/13
I met with my mentor for a short introductory chat at UCA. Both myself and my fellow mentee felt very comfortable talking with him and he seemed as keen as we were to get to know us and talk about our education. He was able to describe his working life and how he reached the point where he is, as head of a small firm specialising in school design, in a short yet compelling discussion. What we felt was most helpful was our mentors eagerness to help our own career paths, even at this early stage, with helpful insights into the profession and advice on how what to do after our degrees. Our mentor was also very interested in our own work and particularly our dissertations, and was able to offer a new perspective on some of our ideas.

First Office Meeting 21/11/13
Soon after the first meeting we visited our mentor at his Faversham office. This was my first experience in an architect’s office so for me it was a fantastic opportunity to see how a smaller firm functions and what to expect in my year in industry. Our mentor was very informative and eager to fill us in on how his practice worked and the projects that they were involved in. What impressed and surprised us most was the honesty and frankness in which he described his work life, allowing us to get both a broad and truthful grasp on all aspects of office life, from design to consultation and even the finances of the practice. This was incredibly refreshing, and although our mentor did describe some architectural horror stories, this did nothing to deter us from entering the profession, his enthusiasm and commitment to his work was inspiring. We were also shown portfolios of past work, much of which the practice had undertaken prior to our mentor taking it over, and so it was very interesting for us to see how he is transforming the work and design ethos of what was once a quite different practice.

First Site Meeting
My third meeting with was based around a site visit to the construction site of one of my mentor’s current projects. We met at Hartsdown Technology College in Margate, where the practice has designed a new Sixth Form building containing classrooms and social areas. The building was only just beginning to form, with steel structure, metal decking and staircases recently erected. This was a fantastic opportunity to explore the elements of a building and see how the details we draw in studio are translated into real systems. My mentor was able to explain how everything would fit together, and the sequences involved. This has helped me gain a real sense for the construction process and the guts of a modern building. I was introduced to the on-site agent and contractor, who works with my mentor regularly. It was fantastic to hear about the build process from his point of view, and how a construction schedule was drawn up and managed, which has fed directly into my Management & Practice module. The on-site agent also discussed managing the different teams of contractors involved, their areas of expertise and the benefits of working with a multidisciplinary team. I was also told about the architect-client relationship on the project and the importance of a close working relationship with architect, client and contractor. The building is due to be finished in a few months, our next meeting will be exploring the end result.

Stage 1 – Life Drawing

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Lecturer Patrick Crouch and our Stage 1 students have been very busy over the last few weeks in the studio with life drawing. The Architectural Representation module is run over both Autumn and Spring term in Stage 1. This module teaches the principles and skills of orthographic and metric projections, perspective drawing and rendering of drawings to communicate design aspirations. Emphasis will be placed on the use of the sketch book and the development of freehand drawing.

To find out about more about the module please click here.

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PassivHaus Intercrit

Location: The Crit Space, Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NR

Convenor: Dr. Henrik Schoenefeldt

Crit Panel: Philip Proffit (Princedale), Patrick Osborne (LeeEvans Partnership), Tanisha Raffiuddin (Passivhaus Trust), Doug Smith(TP Bennett), Bertie Dixon (MaxFordham), Giacomo Chiarani (Kent), Soha Hirbod (Nottingham)

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On 22 January 2014, when the research project ‘Interrogating the technical, economic and cultural challenges of delivering the PassivHaus standard in the UK’ had reached its midpoint, an  intercrit was held to review the current research findings. The review comprised of thirteen presentations, each focusing on one of the case studies. These were reviewed by a  panel of academics, doctoral students and practitioners from MaxFordham, LeeEvans partnership and TP Bennett.  The presentations were divided into three panels, each focused on three main themes: 1. Retrofit – between EnerPhit and PassivHaus, 2. Applying the Passivhaus Standard to UK educational building, 3. PassivHaus as a standard for Housing. A series of lively panel discussions and debrief at the end of the day, revealed some of the overarching themes in the research. While the research over the past six months has focused largely on individual case studies, the review sessions enabled the research team to identify and further explore some of the commons strands. These case studies have highlighted that the delivery of PassivHaus projects was highly dependent on:

1)      a higher degree of collaboration between architects, consultants, clients and contractors. In some cases this lead to the formation of new typology of practice, which unifies the role of the contractor and architect.

2)      education and skill development, including pre-construction training programmes for contractors, is essential to the effectiveness of the Passivhaus projects. In a few of projects, where this aspect had been neglected, problems with quality control were encountered, leading to delays and additional costs. Education of users, not only the original owner-occupier, but when the property is sold on. Architects have to gain a lot of new knowledge.

3)      Knowledge exchange between architects, manufacturers and contractors, between the UK and continental European firms who have already accumulated much of experience with the delivery PassivHaus projects. Most of the projects involved collaborating with partners in Belgium, Austria and Germany. Moreover, the architects who got involved in the PassivHaus project for the first time relied heavily on consultants, assistance of PassivHaus manufacturers and/or on conducting their own research. In some cases architects also engaged in R&D.

”The inter crit gave me the opportunity to discuss the themes I had discovered during my wider research of Passivhaus with industry professionals. This discussion produced a vast amount of feedback and has sparked new channels and interesting areas of debate in my dissertation.”   

Jess Ringrose (MArch Stage 5)

‘The Passivhaus Crit was extremely successful and the guidance attained for our case studies very useful. It is important to trial our arguments and findings with a range of people in associated industries, and the crit gave us this opportunity. Not only was advice offered for our own personal discussions; but much wider and equally relevant topics were opened up as well, broadening both the students and the industry professionals knowledge as well.’

Rosie Seaman (MArch Stage 5)

The reputation of architects at times of change

Dr Timothy Brittain-Caitlin – Kent School of Architecture

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For the last ten years I have been working on a series of projects that all fall within the overall category of ‘the reputation of architects at times of change’. This began with my detailed investigation into the English architects whose careers were thrown off course by the success of the gothic revival from the 1840s. My book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century, published by Spire Books in 2008, provides a richly illustrated depiction of the way in which the gothic revival and its protagonists swept across the country in a remarkably short period, in effect terminating or diverting the working lives of many of their predecessors.

Between 2008 and 2012 I stared to work on studies of architects whose contribution to architecture and the profession was not matched by public acclaim or financial success. The reasons for this are varied: sometimes they did not have the drive to become commercially or socially successful; some narrowly failed to win competitions, or did win but the project remained unbuilt. Sometimes they worked in an unfashionable style; sometimes they were difficult characters with too many enemies. My first detailed study was of the mainly Edwardian architect Horace Field, whose designs for Lloyds Bank branches that resembled Restoration-era merchants’ houses eventually transformed the appearance of the interwar English high street, but whose successful early career with high-profile clients, houses and offices seemed to fizzle out rapidly after the First World War. I have also written about the ‘architects’ architect’ Leonard Manasseh, an influential and popular teacher at the Architectural Association in the 1950s and architect of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the former Rutherford School in Marylebone.

In Spring 2014 The MIT Press is publishing my book Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, which provides many examples of ‘loser’ architects, and which proposes an explanation for why certain types of architecture never receive the type of critique and appreciation that they deserve.

I have been writing for The World of Interiors for 25 years, and contribute to many other magazines and journals, and I often discuss these matters there.

Bibliography

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2014) Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass and London, UK, 192 pp. ISBN 9780262026697.

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011) ‘Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failure’. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 15 (02). pp. 139-147.

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) ‘Horace Field and Lloyds Bank’. Architectural History, 53. pp. 271-294. ISSN 0066-622X.

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) Leonard Manasseh & Partners. 20th Century Architects. RIBA Publishing / English Heritage / The Twentieth Century Society, London, 162 pp. ISBN 9781859463680