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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Recent Highlights from the New Year

2015 has kicked off here at The Building Exploratory with several exciting events for the Senior BEEs and the Islington History & Architecture Group, including a trip to the Royal College of Physicians, and a visit to architect Bill Hodgson’s House and Studio. 

On Wednesday 21 January, the Islington History & Architecture Group Visited the Royal College of Physicians for their first session this year. As it was such as special opportunity, the Senior BEEs also joined, and both groups were treated to an engaging exploration of the building guided by Emma Shepley, curator at the RCP Museum.

Emma gave a fantastic tour celebrating and bringing the architect behind the building, Denys Lasdun, to life. Emma shared stories about how Lasdun had designed the unique building, and the group particularly enjoyed how the interior felt: the quality of the materials, the extraordinary attention to detail, and the views out over the Nash Terraces. 

There was also the opportunity to see the Anatomy of a Building exhibition, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the RCP building.

Many of the group are keen to make a return visit in the summertime to see the garden and the building with sunlight. The visit provided great insight into this highly inspiring modernist architectural masterpiece. 

Then on Friday 30 January, the Senior BEEs had the opportunity to visit architect Bill Hodgson’s house and studio at 115 Kingsland Road.

Bill Hodgson himself gave the group a guided tour, providing insight into the building’s design, which won commended at the 2014 Hackney Design Awards. This small residential/studio building, which houses the office of Hodgson Gabb Studio, is located on infill site between two listed buildings. The front fa├žade is made from Corten steel cladding, and complements the red brick of the neighbouring Victorian buildings.

The Senior BEEs were particularly interested to learn how Bill had designed the building to wrap around an existing tree at the rear of the site, which also provides a natural light well in the centre of the house as well as a courtyard garden.  

The group were inspired by Bill sharing his knowledge and experience of this self-build project, which cleverly integrates roof planting and blends materials to create separate living and work spaces.  

And finally, on Wednesday 4 February, the Islington History & Architecture Group also visited the Mildmay Community Centre, an award-winning Passivhaus building in Newington Green. 

The group met with Justin Bere of bere:architects for an inspiring talk and tour about how the practice converted the community centre into this high standard sustainable building, unique for its energy saving design. 

The group were particularly interested to learn technical details about how and why a Passivhaus works, and why this German-approach to building design is growing momentum. The talk provided much food for thought with regard to making homes more efficient, and prompted reflection on existing building practices here in the UK. 

The building is hired out for various events, training and community projects; and is managed by the Mildmay Community Partnership

So far, it's been an active and inspiring start to 2015! And we’re looking forward to many more exciting events throughout the year ahead!

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