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OSA Review: Heatherwick Studio, OxArch Reconstruction Lecture

Heatherwick studio is a globally recognised, highly creative and experimental, multidisciplinary practice with a wide range of expertise. Today's lecture, the first in the series, presented to us by Rebeca Ramos, project leader at Heatherwick studio, took us through their company and design ethos and how this is implemented within their work through both design and work processes.

Coal Drops Yard, Image Credit Heatherwick Studio:

First up, project inception; finding the idea. She asks “what is the main problem we need to solve?” The example given was the recently completed coal department yard in London, just north of Kings Cross. The idea behind this project was how to create a place where people want to stay for a while. Rebeca then took use through the process of constant iteration through drawing and modelling that takes place at Heatherwick until they are confident they have found the idea.

Vessel Concept Models, Image Credit Heatherwick Studio:

The next example was the currently under construction Vessel in New York. The idea here was how people can be brought into a place and encouraged to experience the space. The key challenges were how to communicate and construct this idea. The importance of communicating ideas is key to Heatherwick as with such highly complex projects getting the ideas across not just to clients but to those who will be constructing the project is key to their success. It was here that we saw the level of collaboration that Heatherwick employs to solve such an issue, working alongside engineers and contractors right through the design process in order to achieve such ambitious projects.

Another key element to the design process is creating a 'wow' moment, for example the point at Coal Drops where the two sides meet or the hollow in the silos. Creating these special moments within projects creates a thrill for the user.

Maggie's Centre Visual, Image Credit Heatherwick Studio:

Finally Rebeca took us through her current project, the Maggie's centre in Yorkshire. She talked us through working with a client who is very confident to let the interpretation be directed by the architect but who also is very driven to deliver their own mission. Utilising all of the previously discussed methods is delivering a complex and highly important project.

All in all the lecture proved an incredibly interesting insight into the work of one of the world's most recognisable design studios and one whose methods we can all take inspiration from.

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