rural_office rural_office

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Rural Office for Architecture  Observations from the field, architect based in rural Wales. Winner of RIBA House of the Year

Site visit: Galen

Looking out to sea.

Internals starting next month. Surveying interfaces between built and unbuilt. Will be good to see this progressing again after contractual delays.


Self build: Roger's gone

Roger finished the remaining blockwork last week, air punching as he did, glad to get off the hill and away from the pompous architect with his complicated building.

Looking forward to progressing the roof this week.


Reference: Noémie Goudal .
Noémie Goudal’s solo show, 'The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise', was featured in  Granta 131: 'The Map is not the Territory' .
This Granta edition discussed 'the difference between the world as we see it and the world as it actually is, beyond our faulty memories and tired understanding. It’s also about the borderlands of politics and reason, and of reality and transcendence, in contested territories.' .
It coincided with a show at the New Art Gallery Walsall in the same year. Her work is very clever, the process of which is shared on her feed. @noemiegoudal
Appropriate for the symposium we launched this week with @ntwales. The link for which is in our bio.
I found this Granta edition in a charity shop ( a Granta in a charity shop! What's the world coming to ...)

Talk: Regional Sensibility .

I'll be speaking in Cheshire next month on 13th February about this project and other work in progress. Explaining the context and thinking behind our approach to our work.
In his writing and interviews, Kenneth Frampton often describes the work of Alvar Aalto and other Scandinavian architects as having a ‘Baltic sensibility’. John Tuomey, interviewing Frampton in 2009, used the term ‘connectedness’ in an attempt to describe this sensibility. Aalto’s work has been adopted by his nation as carrying something civic, cultural and national in identity.
Does a similar British sensibility exist? If so, how do we go about classifying and cataloguing such work in order to reflect the union of diverse cultural and contextual conditions in which it is produced? .

I'll be talking about our views on a British sensibility that operates on the margins of mainstream output, beyond the ‘city limits’ and away from the sort of work described by Frampton as ‘Art Envy’, which tends to be the focus of many exhibitions and journals.

Citing historic works by Távora, Aldington, Anderson, Olgiati, Pizzigoni with more contemporary offerings from Ryan W Kennihan, Adam Richards and Jonathan Hendry among others.

This is a regional @RIBA event open to the public. Booking via Eventbrite - search for "Cheshire Society of Architects' for information.

@jonathanhendryarchitects @ryanwkennihan @adamrichardsarchitects

Symposium: Progressive Landscapes

Delighted to be launching a spring symposium this week with @NTWales to be held at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo, 16th March 2019. The Dinefwr Estate begin their 2019 season by hosting this weekend of talks and events. .
'Progressive Landscapes' brings together architects, artists and writers to help shape a cultural debate that has a particular relevance for National Trust Wales. Two themes are explored.

Exploring Engagement

Reflecting on ways that we think and learn from our landscapes and the communities that settle within them. Predominantly highlighting architectural pedagogy, the techniques of community engagement, as well as socially engaged teaching within the context of contemporary society will provide the focus.

Led by Piers Taylor with contributions from Daisy Froud, DK_CM, Owen Griffiths & Mhairi McVicar. .
The Creative Document

Considering a range of approaches to how urban and rural environments are both pictured and recorded. Here questions of aesthetic representation through writing, art and architecture will be explored as ways of better understanding the complexities of place as both a historical and live experience.

Led by Richard King with contributions from Mark Smout &Laura Allan, Iwan Bala, Kirsti Bohata & Mike Perry.

This event forms part of the RSAW Wales Festival of Architecture 2019, a programme of talks, films, exhibitions and workshops held across Wales from March to June -

To book for this event go to the link in our bio.

Image by James Morris


Work in progress: Dinefwr

Starting work with National Trust Dinefwr this month, the site of a mediaeval castle of Welsh princes, the remains of Roman forts, and the chameleon that is Newton House, a mid-17th century mansion set in historic parkland near the market town of Llandeilo.

The house was transformed and stone clad in the mid-19th century into a neo-Jacobean / neo-Venetian Gothic mash up (if such a description doesn't get me lynched by historians and conservationists) with the addition of four corner towers with pyramidal slate roofs.
It has a lot of charm, but a mixed message of interpretation, so we're going in to unpick the past and find a way to repurpose for the future.


Photocredit to ©National Trust Images/John Hammond


Thanks to Katja Martincic @catjatjat for sharing her wonderful images of Balkan vernacular structures ... and of course ... the iconic work of Oton Jugovec and his floating roof, providing protection for an archaeological site at the Gutenwerth medieval settlement in Otok Pri Dobravi, in the region of Dolenjska, Slovenia.

The abstraction of a rural typology to provide the least invasive impact on the remains it was designed to shelter.

Slovenia architecture has such a rich history.


Mile End

The half way point along my journey north.
It never fails to offend me.


Milford Haven

The confusing world of Milford Haven 'mouth of the two rivers'. Located at the South Westerly tip of Pembrokeshire, a natural harbour which became a naval dockyard, then a commercial port, before evolving into the 4th largest oil and gas refinery in the UK.

The town itself, laid out in a grid pattern by Sir William Hamilton in the late 18th century, sits on the high sloping ground overlooking the port. It feels like it's been left behind as all around it business & commerce has been thriving. It's a port town after all, so there is a certain transience to the place.

At water's edge, a dockland fiction has been created in 90s post modern style to serve the short tourist season that is the Welsh summer. It's out of season reality all the harsher on a cold January day.

But all is not lost, as a new masterplan is encouraging new development, starting with a drive thru Costa Coffee ... which consumes the only viable real estate site left ... A short sighted glimpse into the modern world.


Site Survey: Gerazim

Documenting the past this week. Another fading monument to community cohesion, or control (depending on your standpoint). Gerazim sits in the National Park in the north of Pembrokeshire. A well maintained monolith (despite what these pictures may suggest) overlooking the coastline of Cardigan Bay.

Built in 1848 for the Baptist movement, with a modest congregation of 72. It's robust in detail and proportion but has the most beautiful asbestos panel ceiling.

Not often one writes 'asbestos' and 'beautiful' in the same sentence.

Between the 17th and 19th century Wales laid witness to the spread of nonconformity.

Quakers | Baptists | Calvinistic Methodists | Presbyterians| Independent | Congregationalists | Unitarians | Wesleyan Methodists

The ranks of Welsh Nonconformists were further increased in the 18th century following the evangelical revival which began as a reform movement within the Anglican Church.

There are 6,427 known chapels built in Wales.

At least 2,295 were rebuilt once, Gerazim being one of them, replacing the earlier Soan Baptist Chapel.

Glen Johnson, the local historian, has documented most in this locality. More can be found on his website

The Welsh Religious Building Trust also has a detailed website providing historic data and assistance with restoration.

But now I'm sounding slightly geeky... #welshchapels #sitevisit #sitesurvey #research #rural #rurallife #ruralofficeforarchitecture #wales #religion

Sleeper shed

Walking past the test track for #crossrail this new year, in the old village of Saxelbye. Stumbling across this shed (well stable actually) made entirely from Jarrah railway sleepers. The rail fixings still evident on every board. Beautifully made. It's been there for many decades leading me to ponder if the old railstock made its way into the village when the line was modernised.

Work in progress: Farnham, Surrey

Historic abstractions prepared to assist our argument with planners for a new Arts & Crafts referenced property in Gertrude Jekyll country.
A replacement dwelling in a conservation area comes with a higher level of scrutiny, so this was one device used to explain our design methodology for learning from the past. This of course is Hill Close by Voysey.

After a year long hiatus it's great to be starting technical design for the new dwelling.
More on the website.


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