Drawing with Optimism
This project was realised and built as a winning competition entry for the Mayor of London’s ‘Dressing London’ scheme during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Streetscape Carousels were a series of 5 room–scale temporary pavilions, each relating uniquely to its area of London, showcasing locally characteristic architecture: contemporary and historic buildings alongside landmarks of local importance, to reflect cultural and physical diversity and eclecticism. By representing the city within an object, PUP wanted their pavilions to serve as a reminder that the city itself is an object of fascination.
H-VAC was selected from 128 entries including 5 finalists as the winning proposal for the inaugural Antepavilion international competition. PUP worked with the clients and the Architecture foundation to realise the project in July and August 2017.
Clad in reversible Tetra-Pak shingles, H-VAC is a playful subversion of planning legislation, exploiting permitted development rights for rooftop plant to confront the habitation of rooftop space.
Covertly extrovert, the snaking linear form references the voluminous curved surfaces of rooftop ducting and air handling plant; primarily functional yet surprisingly sculptural. A shelter in disguise, the enlarged scale allows inhabitation and exploits its inaccessible location, concealing a rooftop garden.
Surrey Docks Farm
Surrey Docks Farm engaged PUP in 2014 to refurbish several of its buildings and Thames Path frontage. As well as reinstating a three-storey tower that was completely gutted in an arson attack, and totally refurbishing a multi-use teaching and function room, this project aims to completely rethink the relationship of the buildings, land and river in order to better support the farm’s activities and to raise its profile.
Who influences you graphically?
We call on a wide and fairly eclectic pool of influences that we pick and choose from depending on the project or what we are trying to communicate. We try to be very clear about how we use different types of drawings and images to represent our ideas. We have never consciously tried to copy a particular graphic style but there are a few stand out references that we keep returning to.
We have always liked drawings that explain how things work. For example the flattened perspective drawings and illustrations of the 16th c. military engineer Agostino Ramelli. We love how sometimes a combination of drawings, details and explanation are combined into a single page. The 19th century architectural historian August Choisy produced a series of studies of masonry structural arches from below showing the construction and space in one view. The structure and geometry informs a particular way of representation that is carried through the series. In the same way the exploded and cut-away illustrations from Haynes manuals can be beautiful for their extreme practicality.
We also just enjoy making images of our ideas and we definitely get carried away sometimes in the details or experimenting with how to show things. Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy made plan/elevation drawings with a charm that elevates them far beyond just architectural representations. Likewise Aldo Rossi’s plans for the San Cataldo Cemetery seem to be communicating something much more than just a technical representation of space. We love them for their boldness, playfulness and strict composition. The etchings of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin are also favourites. Completed throughout the 80’s they capture an almost fairy tale whimsicality but are beautifully detailed.
How instrumental was the small Carousel for the development of the final product?
We made a series of physical models whilst developing the Streetscape Carousels and they were instrumental not just to present the idea to the client but to test and refine the concept. When we first had the idea we cut a long collaged streetscape from paper by hand and used an Iphone torch to test the shadows, the distortion and spread. We made a few more versions, each time more precise and complex until we reached the final design. The final model that was exhibited in City Hall as part of the competition for us captured the toy-like intrigue and playfulness that was central to the concept but also would have been difficult to communicate in any other way.
What defined the choice of the site for carousel? How and to what extent does site infer on the meaning and effect of carousel?
The individual boroughs of London offered sites for the Carousels, but we tried to ensure they were spread out across the city. Each Carousel is unique and contains a collaged streetscape silhouette combining prominent structures, local landmarks and historically important buildings from the areas in which they were sited. We did a lot of research and had some very nice conversations with locals to select and curate the streetscapes for each area in order that it represented the areas as all people would know and recognise them.
Have you ever thought of the GIF as a tool to explore images?
Lots of our projects move so we have used GIF photos to capture this. Most of our drawings though are intended for printing so we have not used GIF’s so much but it’s something we will explore when the project is right.
What role did the model of HVAC play in representing the speculation? To what extent might a more realistic collage have helped in making the speculation stronger?
The original image was made with a model built for a single photo. It is actually just half a model and we only built what was to be seen in the photo. We like the impact a physical model can have over a collaged or photoshopped image. We never intended to make an image that was photorealistic as this was not necessary for what we were trying to communicate. It was important that the image had other qualities, an atmosphere and a quality of light, of materials and an idea of how the project could be used. We made the image when the weather outside was just turning and coming out of winter. We were enjoying the bursts of sunshine that came between showers and wanted the image to have this intense sunlight.
How does your method of representation reflect how you operate as an architecture office?
We are in the business of making things physical and building structures. We generally try to get as close as possible to this in our representation. A physical model, or a half-model such as with H-VAC, is the next best thing. However, a lot of our drawings and images need to do more than just represent our proposals. We often want drawings to illustrate how a space is used, have a sense of atmosphere or contain some kind of optimism about the project its self. These are things our drawings need to communicate alongside information about a dimension or detail of a construction. We often have limited time to spend on representing a project, we therefore try to use our time working in a way that we enjoy and if we invest a lot of time we try to make sure there is an outcome that is valuable to us as a practice beyond the particular presentation or deadline that it was produced for.
PUP is a London-based design and architecture studio specialised in socially and environmentally conscious architectural projects. PUP is led by architects; Theo Molloy, Chloë Leen and Steve Wilkinson. Formed in 2014, PUP has quickly earned a reputation for having a positive design ethos which is critically engaged with the discipline and the world around it.
Prior to founding PUP Theo, Chloe and Steve worked for leading architecture and design companies in Switzerland, Spain and the UK including on projects such as Award winning Gantenbein winery in Switzerland, refurbishment of No.1 Court at Wimbledon Tennis Club in London and the Mailings housing development in Newcastle, Supreme Winner of the Housing Design Awards . We have a wide range of project experience from the design of houses to public buildings, exhibitions and interiors, to physically building one-off structures. We use this expertise to our advantage in order to foster a diversity of projects within our own studio.
Our practice has gained recognition over the last 5 years through a series of competition wins, commissions and experimental projects where our ideas have been tested and developed. We are now taking on larger architectural commissions but the innovative approach to materials developed in our early projects still drives our decision making. At the centre of our work is the belief that architecture has a unique ability to bring people together. We aim to make projects that have a positive impact in the world putting the individuals and quality of life at the centre of sustainable and ethical buildings.
PUP projects have been published widely online and in print. We were recently profiled in the Architects Journal as part of their New Practice series. In 2016 we were selected by a jury of critics to be included in the Architecture Foundation hardback, New Architects 3. The publication was billed as ‘ the definitive survey of the best British architects to have set up practice in the last ten years’. Most recently PUP won the inaugural Antepavilion international competition beating 128 other entries. The project named H-VAC was completed in August 2017 on the rooftops of a warehouse by Regents Canal in Hoxton.