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Urban Birds Nestworks

51% studios has designed three Nestworks for the urban birds of Bankside featuring a series of sophisticated readymades: blocks, boughs and bushes as part of the 2010 London Festival of Architecture.

The design is responsive, site specific and provocative: informed by ornithological derives with Peter Holden, locally celebrated for initiating the annual peregrine falcon public views at Tate Modern. The project was commissioned by the Architecture Foundation, and takes its inspiration from Witherford Watson Mann’s Bankside Urban Forest Strategy.

Nestworks 1 2 3 are a direct response to the festival’s theme of exchange: of knowledge, habitat, materials. We discovered that the standard hollow block used to build some of London’s most celebrated architecture is made from concrete with 55% recycled woodpulp, a material that when used in nestboxes is proven to fledge more young than any other. Synergistically the interior block dimensions are text book sizes for house sparrows, radically in decline in the area. Other species designed for are blue tits, great tits, starlings, wrens, robins and blackbirds.

Nestworks 1 2 3 is a legacy project delivered with support from Peter Holden, the Architecture Foundation, Riverford Organic and Lignacite.

Maps showing locations of the Nestworks, some of which are hidden, will available in the Orchard at Union Street from June 19th, or to download.

A related birdwalk and a new talk by Peter and Andy Holden will take place on Saturday 3rd and Sunday  4th July.  Peregrine viewings at the Tate are daily from 12 noon to 7pm, 17 July to 12 September 2010.

View: Birds of Bankside

City Year London

Give a year. Change the world.

City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them skills and opportunities to change the world. Here at 51% studios we are proud to be working closely with City Year to plan and implement their first office and training spaces in London.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Sophie Livingstone writes: “Our experience at City Year over the last 20 years is that young people are transformed through both the full time nature of the programme – they spend ten months with us – and because they can, to paraphrase the Gandhi quote used by David Cameron today, ‘lose themselves in service’. They serve every day from 8am–6pm as tutors, mentors and role models in schools, having an impact on childrens’ attendance, behaviour and performance in maths and English, as well as providing them with role models to whom they can aspire.

That double benefit, to both the young people and the communities they work in, has been seized on by Barack Obama, whose endorsement of City Year is our biggest recruiting tool amongst young people in London, and it’s a concept that has huge potential for tackling pressing problems in the UK.

51% shortlisted as AA Masterplan Architect

51% studios has this week been shortlisted with four other firms for the role of masterplan architect for the Architectural Association, which has recently aquired the leases of a number Grade 1 listed buildings in Bedford Square in addition to those already held for the historic buildings at 34-36.

Others on the shortlist are Donald Insall Associates, Richard Griffiths Architects, Witherford Watson Mann and Wright & Wright.


The Floating Bridge

Today, March 22nd is World Water Day and we are remembering a project we did for the inaugural London Architecture Biennale in Clerkenwell in 2004, working with a gang of nine and ten year olds to construct a floating bridge made from 700 Evian bottles, the second in a series of bridges made from recycled materials . . .

Lot of Bottle: Our Biennale site was the Farmiloes Courtyard in Clerkenwell, where water has been a centrally important part of history, from its springs, wells and spas and later also breweries and distilleries. Clerkenwell was the site of London’s first reservoir. In the 21st century, though, we have little direct knowledge of where our water comes from and often no longer even drink it from the tap. Water now costs more than soda, milk and gas in the US. The fetishising of water and its packaging is probably the single greatest threat to human and animal survival across the globe.

To connect thinking about the environment with design and engineering more than 700 1.5l Evian bottles were recycled from family life and with cable ties, plumbing pipes and climbing ropes were the primary materials used to create the bridge, which [following some experiments in bouyancy] successfully supported one tonne – that being the combined weight of the young engineers.

“Whilst the project is just a teaching aide for now, its commonplace building blocks make it cheap to build. If a small-scale model can divert hundreds of plastic bottles away from landfill, there’s no reason a bigger project couldn’t use up even more in the real world, while creating easily assembled emergency bridges, rafts or a makeshift rescue craft.” Lot of Bottle, Spark 3, The Guardian

The floating bridge was a collaboration between Dallington School, 51% studios and Tim Macfarlane of Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners. Other bridges have been made from cardboard and paper.

Also on World Water Day, we are wishing all the best of luck to David de Rothschild and the crew of the Plastiki, a boat made of 12,000 plastic bottles, which has just begun a round-the-world trip to highlight the problems of waste in our oceans, much of it caused by plastic bottles.

And we couldn’t end without mentioning one of our favourite sites, The Big Picture, which has a put up a stunning set of National Geographic pictures of water [you can also download a free interactive copy of National Geographic’s April issue on water]

Mumsnet Towers

51% studios would like to wish Mumsnet a very happy 1oth birthday.  It’s been wonderful working with you, and amazing to consider the action your new shed meeting room has seen over the last year alone ! Congratulations and all the best for the next 10 years!

mumsnet meeting room

Shed Modernism: Biscuitgate happened here . . .

When Justine Roberts approached us to design a meeting room for Mumsnet Towers, the parameters were simple: it had to provide privacy and yet allow natural light through it and it had to be good value for money. Oh, and it also needed to be lightweight, demountable and sustainable.

51% studios chose polycarbonate panels over glass to provide acoustic insulation, filter the light and give privacy whilst still being light and easy to transport and handle. Panels were cut to size on site and can be recycled after use.

The framing is from sustainable British grown cedar, adapted from a rainscreen profile we have been using in Dungeness, set back-to-back to provide stiffness whilst supporting the panels without any fixings. Cedar is also lightweight, and weathers to a soft silver over time. We achieved the clean floor to ceiling finish with the help of Tripledot’s fine carpenters who scribed the cedar to the undulating planes of the existing warehouse shell.

We love the clever components Item Products makes for packaging and have used on the their heavier duty handles for the sliding door. We exposed the self finished polycarbonate edge so no frame was needed on the leading edge of the sliding door, allowing it to slot effortlessly into the same cedar detail as the other panels.

For photos and videos of Mumsnet 10th Anniversary Party at Google HQ, do have a look at these links on Flickr or Mumsnet

mumsnet meeting room

View: Mumsnet Towers

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