Originally posted on our Instagram account over 26 days in April/May 2020:
A is for Articulation
A clear celebration of the parts and their purpose.
The National Automotive Innovation Centre gathers 1000 researchers under one of the largest timber roofs in the world. The £150M Centre is a partnership project by Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors and WMG at the University of Warwick, bringing together the brightest minds from industry and academia. Forming a unifying canopy, the glulam and cross-laminated timber roof was meticulously CNC machined off site, then assembled and dropped into the steel primary grid structure.
B is for Bottoms, middles and tops
Connected to the ground, reaching for the sky, sheltering the life within.
Our late founder, Ted Cullinan, built his home in Camden Mews with family and friends over two years of weekends in the 1960s. The building expresses a gradual progression from ground floor to roof as a transition of materials from heavy to light. As the site was normally in operation for only one or two days a week, the roof was made very early in the building process to protect tools, materials and possessions from the elements. The first floor was then made of bolted softwood, dangled down from the completed roof.
C is for Circles
Encompassing, welcoming, centred, an expression of the whole.
The Millennium Primary School and Health Centre in Greenwich provides community, education and healthcare facilities on a single site. The school has a spine of colour-coded drums to help pupils and staff identify classrooms from inside and outside. The health centre revolves around a spacious waiting room beneath a large skylight, putting the patient at the heart of building. The circular ‘Village Hall’ shared by the community, acts as a gatepost to the Millennium Village.
D is for Disguise
Functional necessity transformed.
RMC International HQ in Thorpe, Surrey, is a radical office campus protected by extensive roof gardens to reduce its energy demands and minimise its impact on the Green Belt. Two air handling plants are sheltered by wisteria-covered pergolas, with giant chess pieces housing the extract fans… a fantastic disguise.
E is for Earth Sheltered
Warm in the winter, cool in the summer.
Archaeolink Visitor Centre in Aberdeenshire has a grass roof rising as a conical hill over the exhibition galleries providing a platform to view local sites. Taking advantage of the large thermal mass of the surrounding earth, the building has a very low energy consumption, topping up heat losses by solar heat gain through glass walls to the sunken courtyard. Currently unoccupied and awaiting a new use, the landscape has begun to reclaim the building.
F is for Fabric First
Ensuring that carbon emissions reductions are built into the building elements that will last the life-time of the building.
For the phased refurbishment of the Grade 2 listed Rosendale Primary School in south London, we rediscovered the good environmental design of the original Victorian buildings. False ceilings were stripped away allowing natural light to pour in from the tall windows, sash windows were repaired and high-level openings in the halls reinstated to maximise natural ventilation. Fireplaces, dado rails, teachers’ cupboards and wood flooring have been restored to make them relevant to the 21st century classroom.
G is for Gridshell
Expressive structural form derived from economy of materials.
The design, engineering and carpentry of the Downland Gridshell at the Weald and Downland Living Museum is groundbreaking. The building was formed from a diagonal grid of green oak laths laid flat on top of a supporting scaffold. Using gravity, the edges of the grid were lowered gradually – a few centimetres each day – into a three-dimensional shape resembling a three-nut peanut shell.
H is for Hairy timber
The freshness of natural material used raw.
Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre in North Yorkshire is made with eight-inch Western Red Cedar boards spaced six inches apart and glazed to allow filtered light to pass. We especially enjoyed expressing the timber plugs covering the screw fixings.
I is for Inside/Outside
Architecture as a piece of landscape.
The John Hope Gateway at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh has a porous ground floor allowing visitors to enter and leave from many points, and to flow freely between different levels. Walls of Caithness slate extend into the landscape, helping to lock the building into its surroundings. Sailing above is a timber roof, sheltering inside and outside spaces and framing views of the arboretum.
J is for Joyful joinery
A celebration of assembly.
Push-Pull House is a light-filled cross laminated timber and brick family home in Amersham. Overlapping voids and double-height pine walls form a sequence of volumes so the living spaces flow together, making for a fun and sociable home. A storage wall built into the eastern stair displays the family’s books, ornaments and artwork, and mezzanine floors offer spaces for retreat with views back across larger gathering spaces at the heart of the home.
K is for Keep Britain Green
Micro-greening of buildings and integrating landscape through better green infrastructure.
The towpath garden we have created next to our studio in London is our small contribution to addressing the nature deficit in our cities and a way of giving something back to our local community.
L is for Lunch
We eat lunch together every Friday. As is our cooperative nature, we take it in turns to prepare the food, to chair a brief meeting where we catch up on the week’s events, and to clear up afterwards. And we won’t let a pandemic interrupt this long-standing Cullinan tradition… although it’s now our turn every week to make and clear the lunch...
M is for Multi-functioning element
Two for one.
Rainwater pipes also serve as handrails at Leighton Crescent residential development in Camden. The cornice is supported by vertical poles rising up from the ground which support continuous horizontal rails at each floor and a balcony outside each French window.
N is for Natural design
Make room for nature.
Increasing evidence shows that contact with nature improves health, reduces stress and enhances quality of life. The new Community Cluster and Dewi Jones buildings at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital have clusters of consulting rooms, bedrooms and day spaces gathered around an outdoor room – a garden setting offering activities, views, daylight and fresh air. An environment that is warm and welcoming, homely and connected to nature; for a sense of restorative tranquility.
O is for Overlapping elements
Celebrating the layering up of functional elements.
The Media Centre at the University of Gloucester’s Pittville Campus, includes a layer of student accommodation at rooftop level. The study bedrooms sit above a wall of studios and offices, tucked in under the eaves of a corrugated metal roof. Materials are layered and then stripped back to create playful contrasts.
P is for Palladian plans
The power of a well-proportioned plan.
The planning context for Spring at Stonebridge Park called for a ‘gateway landmark’ building. We responded with a ‘rotunda’. The circular plan softens the views and shadows, and becomes affordable through a simple cruciform internal plan giving well-proportioned bedrooms. Recess balconies are located for best views and to regularise planning.
Q is for Quarry tiles
Renowned for their strength and durability.
Hardwearing and impervious, quarry floor tiles, used throughout Maggie’s Newcastle, are warm, tactile and reassuring underfoot. Maggie’s Newcastle provides social, emotional and practical support to people affected by cancer in a calm environment surrounded by nature. Like all Maggie’s Centres, the kitchen table is its heart. Here people can gather over a cup of tea, share experiences or seek advice from the professional staff always on hand.
R is for Rainfall
The celebration of its journey from sky to ground.
Here is our scenery painting workshop in Carshalton where rain courses across roof pitches, gathers in large hoppers, then drops well clear of the building down single lengths of aluminium pipe, eventually landing in rock filled tubs made from concrete sewage pipe rings. A story re-told in many ways.
S is for Shared spaces
Promoting chance encounters.
The Centre for Mathematical Sciences encourages the crossing of boundaries between pure and applied mathematics disciplines at the University of Cambridge, where private spaces progress naturally into public spaces. Seven pavilions are gathered around a grass-roofed social hub. The pavilions are arranged for private study, for sharing ideas with immediate neighbours (nest) and then in your shared sitting room (perch), which opens directly into the central hub (branch). It is here that people come together to relax and interact in the dining hall and informal meeting places.
T is for Thin edges
Sharp in silhouette against the sky.
The BFI Master Film Store preserves the BFI National Archives’ vast and irreplaceable collection of nitrate and acetate film in a highly energy efficient, climate controlled building. The archive building performs its function in an elegantly composed structure. Long elevations are articulated with large stainless steel over-pressure panels and concrete fire shrouds to the nitrate film cells. Workshops and offices at the front and rear of the building are clad in sinusoidal stainless steel cladding, reminiscent of nearby agricultural buildings.
U is for U-shaped courtyards
To catch the sun and shelter an outdoor space that becomes the focus of the building.
Hyde Hall in Essex is the largest Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden at 360 acres. We designed the new Learning Centre and Restaurant and Activity Barn as a family of buildings which enclose and open up to the landscape so that it can be enjoyed in all seasons. The Clore Learning Centre completes the RHS’s nationwide purpose-built education spaces, driving forward their Campaign for School Gardening; inspiring schools to provide children with gardening opportunities to enhance their skills and boost their development, improving physical and mental well-being.
V is for Visible ventilators
A visual impression of a living and breathing building.
At St John’s College Library in Cambridge, a dramatic solar lantern, over the main circular staircase tower, contains a reversible fan to assist with extraction in summer and to return the warm air in the winter. This functional addition to the Cambridge skyline makes a nod to the historical examples on roofs nearby.
W is for Working in World Heritage Sites
Designing with what is there.
We have worked in five World Heritage Sites, including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The new Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives wing, provides excellent conditions for Kew’s priceless collection of dried plant specimens and rare botanical books and illustrations. We took great care to respond sensitively to the existing listed buildings and protected trees along the River Thames.
X is for eXperimenting with Xylem
eXploring different ways of using timber in construction.
Hooke Park (now owned by the AA School) was set up by the Parnham Trust to create a working demonstration of how a sustainable living and working community could be established in the countryside. A range of buildings were designed that explored different aspects of timber technology in order to investigate how wood, in particular the local forest thinnings, could be better utilised. Westminster Lodge, one of five houses we designed with Buro Happold, has a roof formed of a bent lattice of roundwood thinnings, which is laid over a supporting structure of rammed earth walls and timber posts. The roof is finished with a grass covering.
Y is for Young at heart
Designing for all ages.
Torriano Junior School’s Gatehouse building provides a new entrance and spaces in which pupils and adults can learn, work and play. The hall on the first floor can be split into two smaller spaces to accommodate different sized groups and the school’s vibrant range of musical and theatrical pursuits. Three levels of windows offer views out for three different heights; adults, children and crawling babies.
Z is for Zoomorphic
Inspired by nature.
The Conkers Aerial Walkway is conceived as a ribbon, snaking through the trees. Three tree-houses, or eyries, along the walkway, are designed to be versatile, functioning as covered viewing platforms as well as event and educational spaces. Big enough to accommodate over 40 children, the enclosing timber ribbed structures will enhance the National Forest’s learning activities at their Conkers visitor attraction in Leicestershire.