Exercise 2

Precedent research, fitted furniture

For this exercise, I have found several examples of different types of fitted furniture that have different functions or purposes. Most of this research was made online but there are a few of fitted furniture that I have worked on in client’s homes. The pieces I have chosen I admire and and intrigued to find out more about.

Here is a bathroom cupboard that houses the sink. It is made of a timber frame with tongue and groove panels on the side and the front doors. It matches the rest of the bathroom and fits in well with both the materials and colours. I like this idea but would prefer to create a style that’s in keeping with the property. This bathroom has been clad in tongue and groove for practical purposes, it’s easy to wipe clean and repaint if and when needed.

Fig. 1 – A bathroom cupboard in one of my clients’ homes

Here is an example of floor to ceiling furniture that can be functional in a living room, an office or a bedroom. Glass doors are great for displaying nicer items and then you have the cupboards at the bottom for less aesthetic items. The unit is versatile and comes in lots of different variations, made from particleboard, melamine foil and plastic edging. So if the materials aren’t a priority and you are looking for a bargain this could offer the perfect solution.

Fig. 2 – A photo taken on a recent trip to Ikea

Another of our client’s had two single beds made in the eaves of their attic room with three drawers under each for storage. Each bed has it’s own light switch on the middle panel dividing the two with lights fitted above. The design is very simple and is made to fit two single mattresses. I think this design is very clever and utilising a space under the eaves that otherwise might be difficult to use. The bed bases and drawer fronts are made from MDF and the surrounding frame is made from pieces of pine timber.

Fig. 3 – An image of two single beds purposely made in one of my clients homes

During the summer of 2022, whilst on holiday, I had the pleasure of visiting a beautiful pottery shop in Heraklion, Crete. Here is a photo of the display they had in the shop. It’s cube style shelving is made from plaster and stone, each shelf is a different style, this I really like because it adds character to the backdrop but lets the product shine. There seems to be quite a depth to the shelves too, the shop isn’t very large and so this will help with storage of the pottery, you can fit more than a few items on each shelf. The spotlights are an added bonus putting emphasis on each of the pottery items. Painted in white it just lets the pottery stand out, a very good marketing technique, it really is a beautiful shop with the most helpful assistant. When we visited in July they encouraged us make a small dish from a ball of clay. We had to leave our dishes in the shop, to dry, but in exchange they let us choose from a collection that other customers had made. I thought this was such a cute idea, of course I inscribed my Instagram name into the side and only a few weeks later a lady from Spain, picked mine up and tagged me in their post, what a beautiful way to connect people from around the world.

Fig. 4 – My own photo of a pottery shop in Heraklion, Crete

Here is one of our client’s bespoke kitchen cupboards. There is a plate rack on the side which has fake doors on the front. There is a cupboard underneath that which functions as storage space for kitchen items. It was made using solid oak and finished to a very high standard, we sanded each piece down and oiled them to bring them back to life. The style and colour of these units suits the large open plan kitchen, a practical and traditional country house style kitchen.

Fig. 5 – An kitchen unit in one of my clients homes

The decorative brickwork was designed by A. Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer in 1898, resides at The Mary Ward House. Tavistock Place, London. Not furniture but it is beautiful and has the connection to the red brick chimney breast wall I hope to uncover and restore.

Fig. 6 – Decorative brickwork, The Mary Ward House. Tavistock Place, London

Here are perfect examples of traditional pieces of real wooden furniture that would have served as a cupboard in a room but have now been converted for use in a bathroom. This style of furniture is how I imagine my design to look, the style and colour are both warm and tangible, they have character, so many stories to tell. A vanity basin and counter top fitted to suit the cupboard, a wonderful combination. Put this combination in front of a brick wall, mixed with a little industrial style. Even colour with the paintings of parrots add that extra bit of character, an original classic style.

Images found on the internet of furniture that gives me inspiration

After creating a site analysis and with all these ideas of how to design my piece of furniture for the ensuite bathroom, I then wrote a short brief defining the functionality of my piece – ‘A classic period style bathroom cupboard that houses the sink with a cupboard beneath for storing bathroom necessities’.

Exercise One

A site survey in detail

In the final projects of this unit I am going to design and communicate a new piece of fitted furniture for a space and purpose of my own choosing. The first step is to find a room, space or location where I would like to install a piece of fitted furniture. I have chosen a space in my own home and made a thorough site analysis and documented my findings.

In my loft converted bedroom I have an ensuite bathroom. When my husband and I converted the loft we were so glad that we chose to add a shower room in the space. Our children were very little at the time, ages 8, 5 and 1 years old, so the important factors for us were that we needed a clean practical space to shower and use the toilet. We were fully aware that we would be covering a beautiful element in the loft, a double breasted red bricked chimney wall, but at the time we needed to have our practical heads on. Almost 15 years later, we feel that it is now time to uncover this wall, we will remove the ceramic tiles, re-point the red brick chimney area and seal it. The space that sits between the two chimney’s joining is currently housing a sink and pedestal. It’s very undesirable, but again was a practical choice with having three young children. I will design a piece of furniture for this space, it will need to house a sink and storage area. My design will compliment the red brick chimney breast, I will look to design a functional, stylish piece of furniture which will have some historical reference to the original date the house was built. For more context, the house was built in 1905. It is mid terraced house with red brick exterior, stone mullions around the wooden sash windows. I am excited to take all of this information and design a bespoke piece of furniture that the room deserves.

Once I had chosen the space I made a list of what to include in my site analysis.

  • Assess and record the site, what’s adjacent to the site and any other relevant information
  • Any historical and cultural information
  • Site materiality and vernacular architecture
  • A personal response – mapping, observing, soundscapes, material, touch, smell, emotions

Whilst surveying the site, I sat on the floor in my bedroom looking towards the bi-fold doors with the sink area directly in front of me. The ensuite bathroom is tiled mostly, ceramic floor tiles and wall tiles with a plaster boarded ceiling. The shower cubicle to the left, is also tiled with travertine mosaic tiles in various shades of green and grey, surrounding a stone shower tray and accessed via bifold glass doors.

There is no natural light within the room, there is 3 artificial spotlights in the ceiling alongside an extractor fan. The WC sits opposite the shower to right with a thin wooden shelf above that, on the wall that houses various items such as a reed diffuser, an air freshener and a shaver. The sink is sat on a pedestal, with hot and cold taps. On the floor to the left of the pedestal is a basket container with cleaning bottles and materials in. The sink and pedestal sits inside a recess that effectively is the part between the two chimneys. It’s an oblong shape that tapers to a triangle. The tiles are of a light grey colour and feel cold to touch. The room is directly off the main bedroom in the loft area, which houses a king size bed and cupboards that sit under the eaves on the both sides of the room. There are two Velux windows on the opposite wall to the bed, the bed backs on the original beam running through the house. It is a very quiet space in the house. If the Velux windows are open in the bedroom you can hear the birds singing, the train running past a few houses down and the neighbours chatting in their gardens. If the shower is being used then you hear the running water, the squirt of the shower cream bottle and the occupant singing a happy tune. If the sink is being used you can hear the running water and the electric toothbrush buzzing. The flushing of the toilet can be heard and the extractor fan all the while extracting the steam until you turn off the light, then both the lights and fan stop working.

The smell of citrus comes from behind the WC in the form of a reed diffuser. The smell of lemon, vanilla and hemp oil can be found when the shower is being used amongst other smells from the hair and body products. All of these smells give me nostalgia and offer me a sense of belonging. My physical senses towards the space are that it is functional, practical and clean. Whilst I was analysing the space I was sketching the elevations and plans and show these alongside photographs in the site analysis document.

Project 8: Site Surveying

Research Task: Example Project Books

The research task was to search on a specific website for interior design student project presentation books, portfolios and reports that show a range of different visual images, sketches, texts, photographs and technical drawings, displayed together.

I found a few examples to compare the differences between them. I made notes of what I liked and disliked about each one.

The first project that caught my eye was by DMU Creative, published 9.6.22. This is the front page. My initial thoughts were that I liked the background mint green colour and the 3D effect of the open cubes, this immediately tells me there is a story of students within the De Montfort University of Leicester. I open the pages and read a few paragraphs from the programme leader, who talks about the students and how proud she is of their achievements, the next page is a list of the students names and who has contributed to the book. The students work then follows with each a double spread. At the end is an image of each tutor and their names.

My initial thoughts are;

  • I like the use of colour and graphics on the front page.
  • I’m impressed with the students individual design and their personal write up about their experience at the Uni and what their favourite moments were.
  • The information is clear and concise and also contains their Instagram name and Linked In name, a great way to introduce themselves as graduates.

Not only do they display their work, they also talk about it and their personal experiences during their time studying Interior Design. Each student’s work is quite different, they have all designed an interior space that is important to them, for which they give a short description of. Every single piece of work is inspiring and a great read. Towards the end of the book is a list of tutors, so I guess this book is also a good way of advertising the University.

The booklet overall is a great way of introducing the student’s work. There is a beginning with the introduction from the programme leader. I was hoping to see an ending, a written piece to sum up the student’s work and their time studying the course, that’s my only disappointment.

Fig. 1 – De Montfort University Leicester Interior Design presentation book published in 2022

The second project that I liked the look of was an Interior Design Undergraduate Portfolio by Reilly Kortus. My initial thoughts were how cool the front page graphics are, here initials RK but mirrored so the R is in reverse, a very simple font in a clever design. It was published 13th January 2021. Upon opening the pages I find an introduction from Reilly with her Resume and education details. The next page is a content page of her design work, a small paragraph about each design. The next pages are so impressive, she introduces the design and showcases her work through technical drawings, 3D images, presentations of her design choices. This encourages me to carry on reading. Her vision and ethos are very similar to my own, her presentation skills are beautifully presented.

My initial thoughts are;

  • I like the use of graphics on the front page.
  • Her introduction and contents page are very interesting and want me to read on further.
  • Her visual presentations skills are just wonderful, I’m impressed by the level of information and visuals in each double page spread.

After reading the first project and being disheartened by the ending I’m pleased to find a page that sums up her work. Her last page has her graphic initials, the same as the first page, but it says Thank you and then a quote ‘What we think, we become’. I very much believe this is the case, I’m very much inspired by another student’s work.

Fig. 2 – Interior Design Undergraduate Portfolio by Reilly Kortus published 13th January 2021

The third project I was also intrigued by was by Kim St-Hilaire, one was published 3 years ago and another 6 months ago. Both portfolio’s are brilliant but the latest is very different to the oldest. The 3 year old portfolio is definitely more student based, the latest is very professional and her presentations and text are beautiful and polished. It talks you through her profile and skills gained, which then goes on to concept and structural designs before diving into commercial, residential and furniture design. There are lots of really thought through sketches and diagrams that complete her portfolio.

My initial thoughts are;

  • The graphics and colours stand out to me.
  • There is a simplicity in the chosen font, putting emphasis on the written information.
  • Her presentations are clear, professional and thorough.

The idea of this exercise was to find project books that show a different range of information types, all three I have chosen display clear and elegant formats, which is something I aspire to do in my own presentations. All three have a story to tell, the only presentation I was a little disheartened by was the Uni students ending, I would have liked to see some text to wrap up the whole year group. I was looking for clear and elegant work and one that tells a story pulled together with great graphic and presentation techniques, most importantly communicating the full extent of the project intention and the most successful for me was the Interior Design Undergraduate Portfolio by Reilly Kortus published 13th January 2021. Her portfolio feels really personable, I feel that right from the beginning of her booklet that I’m getting to know her by reading her profile, her honesty in the detail inspires me to read further. I also particularly like the way she closes the booklet, with a personal message, I do think a personal touch is important.

Fig. 3 – Interior Architecture & Interior Design Portfolio by Kim St-Hilaire, published 30th May 2022

I have chosen the most successful and added a link to the Interior Design Project Book Research Padlet.


Fig. 1 – De Montfort University Leicester Interior Design presentation book published in 2022 https://issuu.com/dmuaad/docs/degree_show_book_2022-online (accessed 19.11.22)

Fig. 2 – Interior Design Undergraduate Portfolio by Reilly Kortus published 13th January 2021 https://issuu.com/reilly-kortus/docs/internship_interior_design_portfolio (accessed 19.11.22)

Fig. 3 – Interior Architecture & Interior Design Portfolio by Kim St-Hilaire, published 30/5/22 https://issuu.com/kimsthilaire/docs/copia_de_portfolio_may_1_-comprimido (accessed 20.11.22)


Assignment Six

My tutor was pleased to see that I engaged with the shift in focus on this theoretical and thinking exercise and that I am continuing to build on my skills in communicating my ideas. My cohesion amongst the variety of imagery showcases that I thought through what constitutes beauty to me.

I must polish up on becoming more consistent with spacing of the images and the size of my text choice. My tutor was pleased to see the level of detail being explored in my research within the various tasks. I added my mind map to my learning log, my tutor would have liked to see my annotated close reading notes as well, this would then back up my considerations.

Going forward I have made a list to help organise my thoughts and actions

  • continue to build upon my techniques when exploring precedent to further inform my own work and ideas
  • continue to build upon my knowledge of other designers and their philosophies in terms of design and materials
  • continue to build upon my graphics and presentation skills
  • continue documenting my ideas throughout my learning log and show my notes and analysis of my work

Assignment 7

Communication with a ‘Client’

For this assignment I am choosing another students drawing for a semi-collaborative project. This will help me understand the importance of my role in a collaborative process and the importance in the quality of information I need to provide as a designer. It’s important I give as much information when collaborating, this will help the design process.

For part 1 I have saved my previous A3 sheet that I produced in Exercise 1: A small object in detail. I uploaded my work to the student Padlet with my name and details on, hopefully another student will choose my design to repurpose and if they do I’m excited to see what ideas they produce.

For part 2 I have chosen another student’s A3 sheet, from this I will repurpose the object they have drawn at the stated scale. I will firstly make sketch proposals to explore different ideas, then once I have figured out the design I will communicate it and present it on an A3 sheet.

I already had a few ideas in mind and so went ahead and put them to paper. My ideas touched base on a sleeping pod for the homeless, a storage container, a food coolbox and a toybox. But the idea that really captured my imagination was the recycling pod. I used the scale 1:100 to repurpose the pill box as a recycling pod. The images below are my design thought processes.

Once I had completed sketching and measuring I got to working on my technical drawing, I made these drawings using Autocad. I created the drawings, added dimensions, added a human figure for scale and then added a title box.

So to complete my assignment I created an A3 presentation of my recycling pod idea using Indesign. I added technical drawings, images of the materials I would use of the exterior and interior of the actual pod and a written piece to fully communicate my idea. This assignment was challenging but it soon became apparent that everything I have learned over the last few years was coming to fruition. The research, the concept drawings, the technical drawings and then compiling all of that information to communicate to a client is vital, I loved bringing all of this information to one place, I’m really proud of what I have managed to create, what a fun task to challenge all areas of my learning. I now look at objects in a different way!

Exercise 1

A Small Object in Detail

I chose an object no larger than I could fit in the palm of my hand. This object could possibly be repurposed for a different function, at a different scale, similar to the Borrowers who took objects from the human sized home that they lived within and repurposed them.

I sketched elevations on paper and added measurements to refer to when drawing in Autocad.

I then made technical drawings of the object showing elevation, plan and section drawings. This was so helpful because whilst drawing using Autocad I was learning new skills, helped by referring to videos on youtube and resources I accessed via the college. I put new skills and knowledge to the test and created the drawings of the object, added dimensions and scale then took this information and added the images to an A3 sheet on Indesign. I then wrote a description to explain what it looks like without showing photographs, because my task was to visually describe the object in as much detail as possible, which I believe I achieved. I also wrote the choice of two other scales that the bottle could possibly be repurposed as. It will be interesting to see if another student chooses my design and what they would repurpose the bottle as.

An image of the green bottle for context.

It took me a little while to choose my object, my two other choices were very difficult for me to draw technically on the computer. The first was a spiral hairband, the second a screw. Overall the exercise was fun and encouraged me to practise using Autocad. It does take some time to watch the tutorials but it is well worth it, this way of learning helps me understand and whilst seeing it visually then actively drawing helps me when making mistakes, all the new skills I have learnt will help me to correct those mistakes and to become more confident when doing technical drawings using Autocad.

Assignment 6

What is beauty? – A close reading

I did a close reading on a piece of text that considers four types of answers to the question, what is beauty? I printed the text and read through a few times, underlining parts I deemed important to the question, then made notes to understand what was written.

The text breaks down various ways of looking at how we consider beauty, the four answers given look at simple quality, aesthetic qualities, non-aesthetic qualities and judgement. By stating that something is of a simple quality can close down any further discussion, we as humans always engage in discussion about how something looks aesthetically, we compare differences and back up those reasons with our own judgements. Another way of looking at beauty is to consider the aesthetic qualities present and there are so many terms to choose from, as well as emotional approach and the way we think, it’s all very complex.

Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, believed that beauty was important because it connects humans to the mystery of being, reminding us to be better within ourselves. He wrote that beauty is not about the physical properties of an object and that aesthetic judgements are a matter of taste.

Firstly, what are my own ideas of the concept of beauty in interior design? If a design or a space brings me feelings of happiness, I consider it to be beautiful. If something tastes amazing, I consider it to be beautiful. If I’m pleasantly surprised by an image or act then I consider it to be beautiful. I admire designers with innovative design that look at a more holistic approach, designs that will have a more positive impact socially and environmentally. The future of design needs to look at the wider impact on communities, how can people collaborate to want to make a difference, to be more inclusive. There must still be processes and imagination but more thoughtfulness and understanding about sustainability is important. By reducing the negative impacts on the environment we can create environments and experiences that will help have a positive impact on health, economic and social life.

I made a list of the visual qualities I find important for interior design; balance, colour, pattern, movement, scale, shape and harmony. The physical qualities of form, proportion, colour, texture, arrangement and materials are all important when putting together my presentation. I also did a mind-map, which includes physical qualities as well as emotional qualities. This mind-map I hope to transform into a visual version.

My mind map exploring my thoughts on Beauty

I have taken this information and made an A3 illustrated presentation of my own ideas of the concept of beauty in interior design, titled ‘What is Beauty?’. I have annotated each image explaining my reasons for using them.

Research Task continued…

My second choice of images that share similar physical spaces but evoke different intangible feelings are super skinny skyscrapers.

The first is of the skyscraper in 111 West 57th Street. The luxury designed tower tapers at the top like a pencil and has only one residence on each floor. Its east and west facades are clad in terracotta tiles with bronze accents, while glass curtain walls face Central Park to the north and Lower Manhattan to the south. The building standing at 472 metres hight and houses a 25-metre swimming pool, as well as other luxury amenities including a private dining room and a double-height fitness centre with a terrace.

Fig. 1 – 111 West, 57th Street, NYC skyscraper

My second image is of the MoMa Tower, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. It’s the 11th highest building in New York City and it’s certainly seems to have been built in the perfect spot and close proximity to all the great spots of the city, it’s in midtown Manhattan and has 360-degree views of the city skyline, including Central Park, the Hudson River, and the East River. The different layers to the structure give the building character, standing at 320 metres high it also boasts beautiful interiors.

Fig. 2 – MoMA Tower, NYC skyscraper

Both buildings have physical similarities but evoke different intangible feelings.

The first building, the 111 West 57th Street skyscraper screams power and importance, it wants to be the tallest building in NYC but for me the tallest isn’t always the best. It certainly has a sense of large scale because NYC have skyscrapers and that’s nothing new but this skyscraper has less character and evokes a feeling of loneliness, it was obviously designed to stand out from the rest, that was probably intentional and so feels less about the city and more about status.

The second building, the MoMA Tower, is again a tall building but has much more character and charm about it. The different heights of the building resemble a pyramid shape, it still serves a purpose of sharing the best views across the city but in a much more desirable way. It stands adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art and so the design seems more in-keeping with the area and so in my opinion, the building evokes a sense of aesthetic and drama in a more collaborative way.

My last pair of images is of interior bathrooms with views through a glass window.

The first image is of a master bathroom at 432 Park Avenue, New York City, which has the most amazing view over the city. Structural and physical elements such as the walls, floor, glass window, bath and bathroom fixtures sit seamlessly in the space. The designer has considered which material best to use, it’s high end quality luxurious material, marble, but has really captured the feeling within by using soft lighting in the room, this creates a different mood at sunset and sunrise with the added bonus of the glow from the sky. The window space frames a view of the city, of the skyline and less of the buildings, which create a sumptuous relaxing atmosphere.

Fig. 3 – A master bathroom at 432 Park Avenue, NYC
Fig. 4 – #57A residence, the Flatiron District, NYC

Another bathroom in the second image, in the same city but photographed during the day with daylight pouring in. Structurally it’s very similar to the first image, with walls, windows, bath and bathroom fixtures which also sit in a wonderful space. The obvious differences are that the window view is broken up with several panes and the interior walls and floor are of a different style of material. I love how the colours in the walls and floor pick out the colours in the buildings over the city. The view is again another beautiful one but interrupted with window frames, not as seamless a view as image one.

They both evoke a feeling of amazement and wonder simply because of the view, but image one draws me into a moody, mysterious feeling, a place you could really lose yourself in with a good book, and the view of course! The second image evokes a feeling of amazement which is helped more with the view than the bathroom itself but the colours in the walls and floor lead my eye to the buildings in an appreciative, thoughtful way.

This exercise was interesting. I would normally view an image and form my opinion as to whether I liked it or not but comparing two very similar images helped me fully understand my reasons for liking or disliking. It has helped me put my feelings into words, expressing my opinion in this way will help me in making future design decisions, it has helped me understand the meaning of intangibility a little more. I generally show my emotions when I enter a space or take in the view of a building, I generally show my emotions in my every day life, which is coming in very handy right now! I’m also aware there is still so much more to learn, I’m looking forward to strengthening this ability as I work through the unit.


Fig. 1 – 111 West, 57th Street, NYC skyscraper https://www.dezeen.com/2022/04/13/super-skinny-skyscrapers-new-york-city/ (accessed 9.10.22)

Fig. 2 – MoMA Tower, NYC skyscraper https://www.dezeen.com/2022/04/13/super-skinny-skyscrapers-new-york-city/ (accessed 9.10.22)

Fig. 3 – A master bathroom at 432 Park Avenue, NYC https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/garden/bathrooms-with-full-frontal-views.html (access 10.10.22)

Fig. 4 – #57A residence, the Flatiron District, NYC https://robbreport.com/shelter/homes-for-sale/rupert-murdoch-lists-two-new-york-condos-for-78-million-1234670108/ (accessed 10.10.22)

Research Task: Intangible and Tangible

Examining the first image; would you like to live here? What makes this house interesting, what makes you want to live here?

I love the buildings’ location, the building is set in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, California, a little piece of tranquility amongst the hectic built up environment of the concrete jungle, the city. The flat roof and glass windows make it a simplistic design as a piece of architecture, perfect for this environment because it has a 360 degree view of the landscape it sits upon, yes I would like to live here. The view would change with the weather making it an interesting place to live. At night time I can imagine a blanket of lights as the city lights up, I would get lots of inspiration for my designs if I was fortunate enough to live somewhere like this.

Fig. 1 – Pierre Koenig, Case Study House #22 (1959) 

I approached the second image with the same questions; I have a different view of this building. I would prefer to live in the building above. The second image is of the same build in terms of the corner windows and flat roof, but is far less attractive and sits in a completely different environment as far as I can see from the image. After further research online, I now understand more about this building.

It’s one of Britain’s largest collection of postwar prefabs that can be found at the Excalibur Estate in Catford, southeast London, where 187 homes were built by German and Italian prisoners of war. Their design followed a strict Ministry of Works template: detached 600sq ft bungalows with two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen, indoor loo and bathroom plus a bit of garden. Several dozen of the tenants later exercised the right to buy their prefab. However, following a 10-year conservation battle, with the Twentieth Century Society siding against Lewisham council, the major part of the site planned to make way for a new estate of 371 houses and flats built with housing association L&Q, the council’s development partner. There will be a mix of private sale, rented and shared-ownership homes. Existing owners and tenants have priority to buy or rent a new home. Six prefabs will remain, plus a sheet metal barrel-roofed church from the same era. They have been listed by English Heritage and will become community buildings. (Spittles, 2017)

Having read this page I am pleased that some of the homes will remain and are listed by English Heritage, it’s so important that we keep buildings as parts of history, we can read about these but to actually visit them we can get a better idea of how the architecture and building make us feel, this will help when making good choices for future design.

Fig. 2 – Excalibur Estate, Catford (2014)

Continuing with this exercise, I have found and compared some images that show the tangible and intangible qualities of an interior space. I have done some visual research online and in books and found 3 pairs of images to compare. For each pair of images I note the physical similarities and differences between the two, and list any built elements that evoke an intangible feeling, and also what that intangible feeling is.

Known as the coin building, the Al Dar Headquarters, Abu Dhabi comprises of two circular convex shaped facades linked by a narrow band of indented glazing. It is completely circular and fully glazed.

The groundbreaking building represents a fusion of tradition and modernity, with the striking circular shape symbolising unity and stability. The building’s diagrid concept largely eliminates the need for internal columns, which would compromise the aesthetic appeal of both the external building as well as the views from within. The project also adopts a subterranean vacuum Waste collection system which transfers the waste directly to a local waste transfer station for recycling and compacting, eliminating the need for refuse collection vehicles. This system is the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi. (Arup,s.d)

Fig. 3 – The Al Dar Headquarters, Abu Dhabi

My first reaction to this building was how different it looked to other buildings I have researched, a circular building but in a vertical position is a first for me. Digging further into what led to this design helped me to understand that it’s the first ever circular building of its kind in the Middle East. It was developed following the principles of the American system of classification of U.S. Green Building Council LEED and built in a new area on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The architect Marwan Zgheib wanted to create a simple object, with a bold and powerful presence that was able to compete with UAE’s already iconic architecture, creating a sense of belonging and identity to the area. Inspiration came from the clam shell that has a deep meaning for Abu Dhabi with its maritime heritage and so the geometric round shape evokes that sense of an open shell. Such a simple concept that has developed into a magnificent piece of architecture for the business district to enjoy.

My second choice of similar buildings is the Sunrise Kempinski Hotel that sits near Beijings city centre which is said to look like the rising sun, whilst looking at it from the side it appears to resemble a scallop, which represents fortune in Chinese culture.

Fig. 4 – The Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing

The building is a luxury hotel that sits on the shore of Yanqi Lake, surrounded by the rolling Yanshan mountains. An international team of designers from the UK, Italy, Spain, the US, Holland and the Philippines worked on the design, a critical view from people outside of China was needed to broaden their ideas and showcase Chinese culture. Inspired by nature, the top of the building reflects the colour of the sky, the middle of the building reflects the Yanshan Mountain, and the bottom of the building reflects the lake. The entrance of the hotel is shaped like the mouth of a fish, symbolising prosperity.

“We need the architecture that can represent the soul of Chinese culture, namely the idea of learning from nature. We not only have to consider the ‘connection’ between the main building and the environment, it is a hotel complex that also involves a private island, so, a vivid visual needs to be created for the guests – resulting in, when a guest looks at Yanqi Lake Kempinski from Yanqi Island, it will really give our guests the beautiful picture of sunrise and sunset,” said the leading Architect. (thedesignsociety, s.d.)

Chinese people believe the sun reflects the core values of Chinese philosophy and that mankind is an integral part of nature and in order to be harmonious, nature should be respected. In China, a circle means the start and the continuity of the life, it only seems fitting that this building takes on board all of these points and represents the sun rising upon the lake.

Both circular buildings have physical similarities in both style and shape as they are both built with glass whilst both resembling seashells. The first building doesn’t have internal columns, it’s made up of a complex external structure of diamond-shaped steel, called diagrid, a framework of diagonally intersecting metal beams, whereas the second building is made from reinforced concrete and all-glass exterior so built differently.

They both evoke a feeling of meaningfulness, even before reading their stories I felt they had a more symbolic meaning behind them. The shape of them evoke a sense of nature, both designed to resemble seashells, and they both give that feeling of importance because of the size of them sitting on the landscape.

The first building, the Aldar Headquarters evokes that feeling of importance and wealth because it is enormous standing 121 metres tall and the only building of its kind in the area. It also evokes power as it is singled out on the landscape and that feels, to me, very intimidating. If the environment surrounding it has other buildings alongside it may not seem so terrifying.

The second building, the Sunrise Kempinski Hotel also evokes that feeling of importance but with cultural meaning behind it. It feels less threatening than the Aldar building, maybe that’s because it looks more organic. Still standing enormous at 97 metres high it seems the environment surrounding it softens the building slightly, the mountains and sea compliment it and it seems to fit in better.


(Spittles, 2017) https://www.standard.co.uk/homesandproperty/buying-mortgages/postwar-prefabs-on-catford-s-excalibur-estate-to-be-replaced-by-371-new-houses-and-flats-a116196.html (accessed 9.10.22)

(Arup,s.d) https://www.arup.com/projects/aldar-headquarters (accessed 9.10.22)

(thedesignsociety, s.d.)http://thedesignsoc.com/shanghai-huadu-architecture/ (accessed 9.10.22)


Fig. 1 – Pierre Koenig, Case Study House #22 (1959) Photograph by mbtrama on Flickr: Creative Commons. (accessed 9.10.22)

Fig. 2 – Excalibur Estate, Catford (2014) Photograph by diamond geezer on Flickr: Creative Commons. (accessed 9.10.22)

Fig. 3 – The Al Dar Headquarters, Abu Dhabi https://www.mz-architects.com/projects-detail.php?prid=64&cat=Offices (accessed 9.10.22)

Fig. 4 – The Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing https://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/12/5-unusual-circular-buildings.html (accessed 9.10.22)

Project 6: Intangibility

Intangible refers to something that can only be experienced, rather than touched. We, as humans, have a philosophical reaction to all physical things and the feeling that is evoked will differ from person to person.

As an example, taking a look at this image of the Taj Mahal, I will consider how it makes me feel, what I like about it and/or don’t like about it. I see a mass of blue sky as the buildings’ backdrop. The building is made up of symmetry, organic shapes and there is also symmetry in the landscape. Many people consider this building as beautiful. I would agree. The architectural material used is of soft, warm, delicate tones complimenting the paving that lines the water in front. The building was made using brick-in-lime mortar veneered with red sandstone and marble, with precious/semi precious stones inlaid.

The Taj Mahal is a perfect representation of the Mughal style, which fuses architecture techniques of Persian, Islamic and Indian styles. Easily one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal stands as a symbol of eternal love as its history and beauty never fail to captivate the heart (Sveiven, 2011)

When I consider how the building makes me feel; I feel grateful, happy, overwhelmed, stunned, interested and at peace by its magnificent beauty. Perfection also comes to mind because of the symmetry not only within the architecture but the landscape that mimics this, expanding those feelings outwards. Now making me feel that I need to visit and feel those feelings in the flesh!

Fig. 1 – The Taj Mahal


(Sveiven, 2011) https://www.archdaily.com/100528/ad-classics-taj-mahal-shah-jahan?ad_source=search&ad_medium=projects_tab (accessed 9.10.22)


Fig. 1 – The Taj Mahal https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252/ (accessed 9.10.22)