Mutende II was a humanitarian project to build a school for a village in Zambia where we worked closely with Orkidstudio, an architectural charity. All their projects are funded by private donors and 100% of the money pays for the materials and fabrication. All design costs were pro-bono and the construction was by trainee architectural graduates as well as local volunteers.
As a consequence of the inexperienced hands that would be constructing the building, we ensured the details were simple to both fabricate and execute.
Mutende had many aspects of innovation and original thought, driven by the need for it to be built by unskilled hands, using locally available timber and low tech fabrication methods.
Only small section timbers were available locally. Therefore, to achieve the long spans and open spaces we devised a way of making the columns using multiple braced timber sections that provided the compression strength and lateral stability required. To combat the problem of termite infestation reinforced concrete pillars were used to lift the timber out of the ground and provide durability. However, to minimise the concrete used we kept the pillars at low level.
Mutende was built using the help of local volunteers without previous building experience. These individuals have gone on to build other projects in neighbouring villages. This has created a ripple effect of commerce and development beyond the original scope of the project. Not only benefiting the individuals involved but also the surrounding communities.
The project was built on time, on budget and everyone is delighted with the result.
The Southend Beach Huts were won following a design competition with Pedder Scampton Architects. We liaised closely with Pedder Scampton to devise a means of integrating local pebbles into the facade. To expose the pebbles we researched the use of extruded polycarbonate panels using computer models and physical testing to assess its performance.
We liaised closely with the client, Southend Council, to ensure that all their requirements were met in relation to robustness, durability and cost. We liaised closely with the fabricator and contractor to accommodate as many of their preferences as possible in our design.
The Southend beach huts incorporate innovative and bespoke details driven by the asymmetric geometry of the design and novel materials used. Since the structure was exposed as part of the aesthetic we were meticulous in the detailing. To minimise site construction time we used modular prefabrication methods, detailing all the bespoke joints so they would achieve the necessary structural requirements as well as a seamless finish.
The Southend beach huts have had a significant impact on the local area, improving the ambience of the environment. The area surrounding the huts remains open to the public and comments from local people are very positive.
The huts were constructed on time and within budget and the client is very happy with the result. So much so that they want to build more at another location.
Photography by Simon Kennedy
StructureMode are design-focused structural engineers with a passion for experimentation and making.
We work on a wide range of projects bringing a creative, practical and collaborative approach to design. This means we are often involved in projects at an earlier stage, which enables us to introduce ideas that can be integrated into the design. We like to incorporate innovative structural solutions driven by our enthusiasm for design, sustainability and efficiency.
We continue to expand our portfolio of challenging private residential projects whilst researching new materials including cardboard for structural use, working internationally on humanitarian projects and building art installations.
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Lûz, an art installation for the Secret Garden Party in 2013, photography by Jody Lawrence