Tag Archives: home

British Gas part 2

I’ve been quite busy since my last post but I am happy to say that British Gas want to use my idea and thanks to the hard work and efforts of John Kirby and the RIBA  things are moving on. 

I hope to be able to report more in the coming weeks and would like to thank everyone who has supported me and helped me so far.


British Gas – The idea

In July I had an idea for British Gas.  I have now decided to describe the idea on my blog, in the hope that something positive comes from it.

As I have said before the aim of this is to promote architecture and design in the UK.  If those who take part benefit from the exercise too then that’s all well and good.

This all started when I was watching television and the British Gas ‘our world’ advert came on the screen.  If you want to see some pictures of the advert look at Helen Butterworth’s blog.  As I was watching the animation I found myself thinking that there wasn’t much of a representation of modern architecture in it and in a little while I had the following idea.

A national competition supported by British Gas and the RIBA to design your ideal home based on the theme of the advert.  The winners could be featured in an advert or two and the other entires could be showed on a website.  There could be a number of categories based on age to widen its appeal and keep it fair for entrants.

I have contacted both British Gas and the RIBA and sent them a few details of my idea and with a bit of luck it might come to something.

I would love to hear what you think…

Ask The Architect – Can you help us resolve two design and construction issues?

A question sent in to Ask The Architect last week shows the importance of good design at every stage of the project.

The owner of a large Victorian terrace in a conservation area, is converting the building back to a house after it has been used as a block of flats.  They have used an architectural technician to produce a set of drawings for building regulations and asked me to help them with the removal of an existing wall to create an open plan kitchen/dining room and a the installation of a new external staircase to the basement. 

The engineer has designed brick piers to support the new opening but they are wider than the existing wall and the owner is concerned about the appearance of the opening in a period house and the potential loss of original features.

My suggestion was to discuss this in more detail with the engineer and see if there was any way of making the supports narrower.  As a last resort the whole wall could be made wider and the features could be replaced to retain the character of the room.

I also noted that the opening was too high for its width making it look awkward in the room, as it is important to look at the scale and proportions of a new opening in its context.  The plan showed a central island under the opening and I felt that the kitchen layout might be improved if this island unit was replaced with a run of kitchen units linked to the rest of the work top with an opening above.  This would increase the useable kitchen space and still provide the open plan feel for the room.

The property owner was concerned that appearance of the new basement staircase was not appropriate to the house and that the hand rail and balustrades stuck out like a sore thumb!

My response was to look at combining the existing front door staircase with the new basement access or just turn the new staircase through 90 degrees as both of these options could reduce the amount of protection required and make the new stairs feel more like part of the existing house.  The use of glass instead of metal for the balustrades would also help the staircase become less of an issue.

These problems show how important it is not to let the technical and legal processes of planning and building regulations applications override the design intent and poorly affect the end result.