Competition win: Christchurch Woking
Following a three-stage design competition, we are excited to have been selected to reconfigure a prominent Grade II listed church complex in the heart of the fast developing Woking town centre, creating a more welcoming and relevant facade with a series of striking contemporary extensions.
The brief was to re-evaluate the church and its community functions to encourage engagement, and create a stronger connection with the surrounding public spaces. Our approach distinguishes the various functions of the mission and establishes a modern architectural language which complements the listed church.
We are currently developing the final design and will submit for planning in 2018.
New year, New studio
We’re delighted to show off Fathom’s new studio that we will be moving into in the New Year.
A fantastic light space in an old school building close to both London Bridge and Bermondsey Street. We cannot thank Watermans enough for their kind support since launch, allowing our practice to grow in their office. This new studio provides us the room to continue expanding the practice, facilitate model-making, research projects and throw the occasional party.
Fathom Christmas ceramics workshop
Having reviewed and loved Katie Spragg‘s graduation show at RCA for Blueprint Magazine in 2016, we were delighted to hear she was crowd funding a new community clay studio in Bermondsey, Collective Matters, with fellow artists Eva Masterman and Mary O’Malley. We were keen to support.
Now up and running, Eva kindly guided the Fathom team through an afternoon of flora-inspired claywork. It was highly enjoyable and a surprising creative release, helped along by mince pies and mulled wine. Thank you Eva.
Bartlett Cross Crits
Steamed wood, self-eroding structures, re-engineered fish, nuclear fission and out of this world pavilions. This year’s second and third year undergraduates at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL were joined by Justin Nicholls and Professor Nat Chard and Andreas Komer for this term’s Crits.
The work of Unit 11 focused on Otherworldly. Students reimagined our relationship with nature by considering how our world could be reset – references including Jules Verne and animator’s Studio Ghibli helping to loosen the mind.
Unit 2 focused on high density. Using the latest algorithmic digital tools, students investigated how density at material, building and urban scale could change our environment. This was combined with the more traditional analogue methods of making such as model making and material studies.
Many thanks to Unit 2 tutor Aleksandrina Rizova for the invitation.
The Pod is official studio at DCW
Digital Construction Week is the only UK event dedicated to digital construction, engineering, design, manufacturing, and operation – new and future innovations shaping our industry.
Thanks to the kind support of Stanhope, The Pod relocated from its home in White City Place to ExCel London for the event. Proudly rubbing shoulders with the robots from The Design Computation Lab of The Bartlett, UCL, the HS2 Hub Pavilion and DCW’s own Drone Drag Racetrack, The Pod became a must see talking point, as well as the conference’s official recording studio. GeoSlam’s point cloud scanner loved it (see image), Justin gave a talk about digital vs traditional processes in relation to the project and the Fathom team were on hand to discuss working cluster ecosystems and The Pod as a metaphor for these. Podcast interviews recorded by key speakers during the event will be available soon from Digital Construction News.
Design South East influence growing
Brighton & Hove Design Place Review Panel has hit the ground running in it’s inaugural year. As part of the panel assembled by Design South East – DSE, Justin has reviewed a number of major planning applications, the first of which are now being consented, including First Base’s Anston House.
Justin and the panel have led design charrettes with the borough and local stakeholders to assess development plans for the area. He has also spent time with the DSE team and it’s Trustees helping develop it’s strategy for the future.
Judging Blueprint Magazine’s Ones to Watch
For a second year, Justin was invited to judge Blueprint Magazine’s Ones to Watch – a review of the year’s best graduates from the UK’s design schools.
This year, Justin focused on The Royal College of Art and The Bartlett School of Architecture, selecting six striking and thought-provoking projects include Vycle – a bike powered lift, Sembler – an automated production system for dwellings and an elegant reimagining of a Mayfair church incorporating retail, recycling and a museum. Judges were drawn from practices including: IF_Do, RCKa, Wright & Wright, Featherstone Young, Conran + Partners, Studio Octopi, Feilden Fowles. Read the full article.
The Pod on tour
The Pod will be making a guest appearance at Digital Construction Week, 18-19 October at London ExCel.
From drone races to VR/AR demos, 3D printing and robotics, this year’s DCW exhibition offers a chance to get to grips with the pioneering technologies and processes disrupting our industry. Meet the teams behind the tech, as they demonstrate how their innovations will revolutionise the way we work, offering hands-on demos, advice & real-life project insights.
The Pod will be bringing live podcast recording to this year’s event. Throughout the show thought leaders, industry innovators and visitors will be invited to step inside to have their say about the digital transformation of their industry.
Sports Centre pre-app submitted
We’ve submitted a pre-app this month for a new 17,800 sqft community sports centre for Maccabi London on a green belt site in Barnet, to house a multi-use facility with courts for futsal, netball and badminton.
The location has demanded a sensitive approach to both massing and façade design. The external skin responds to the landscape with vertical timber slats interspersed with reflective metal fins to draw light and animation into the façade.
New podcasts in The Pod
Congratulations to Westminster Part IIIs
Both Jonathan and Justin were Professional Examiners this year for the University of Westminster’s Architecture Postgraduate Diploma Professional Practice (RIBA Part III) – the final gateway to becoming a chartered architect. An opportunity for them to share some of their combined 40 years of experience in the industry!
Candidates from a range of practices including Allies & Morrison, Tate Hindle, Eric Parry Architects and Guy Hollaway Architects were interviewed to ensure they met exacting standards of the ARB, RIBA and the university. Some very interesting work was presented – congratulations to all those who passed.
Brent design advice panel
Justin has been selected from Design Council CABE’s list of Built Environment Experts to join the newly formed London Borough of Brent Design Advice panel.
The panel’s objective is to support Brent in achieving its aim of regenerating its built environment and enhancing the quality of life of its residents. The panel will review development proposals and masterplans, as well as provide other design support services to the planning and development process. Key development areas include Wembley Park which encircles the iconic Wembley Stadium, Wembley High Road and Alperton.
Bartlett Summer Show Opener’s Prize
Welcome back Huma Mohyuddin, fresh from completing her Part II at The Bartlett. Huma worked at Fathom last summer and before that with Hawkins/Brown supporting the delivery of Crossrail, Huma creates beautiful hand drawings for our conceptual and interior work as well as digital modelling.
We are very pleased to also welcome Adam Clemens this month, who joins us following experience on The Watershed development in his native Cape Town, and West Grove South residential development in Elephant & Castle with Panter Hudspeth for Lendlease. Adam brings a fresh design perspective and valuable BIM experience to the studio.
The Secret Life of Harry Godfrey
We’re thankful to have Harry back safely after his trip to Sichuan Province, China. With friend Yiping, Harry won the James Phillips Foundation Travel Award 2016. Their aim was to document the urban sprawl of Larung Gar, the world’s largest Tibetan Buddhist Academy, deep in the Himalayan foothills.
Armed with cameras, a drone and plenty of pluck, it was a race against time, as modernisation by the Chinese government is quickly changing this Academy forever. Their trip was a success, even if they did see the inside of two Chinese police stations.
Watch out for notices of their upcoming exhibition.
The Pod shortlisted – NLA Awards
The Pod has been shortlisted for the NLA Awards in the Meanwhile category for projects that embrace the city as a work in progress, enlivening spaces, places and high streets over a short-term period, while supporting long-term ambitions. A great piece of community placemaking by our friends at dn&co. We have been overwhelmed by the reception The Pod has received in the press and by our peers and even taken requests for replicas – look out, may see a Pod near you.
Justin presents to Vision London
Vision London 2017, held at Olympia London this week, showcased innovative products, case studies, and ideas for future materials, structures, places and cities.
As guest speaker, Justin used The Pod, packed full of innovation, to highlight progresses in the industry: from our use of the ipad to rapidly sketch ideas and produce scalable freehand contract drawings, the use of coding to translate the spoken word into a finely tuneable interference pattern and then into 350,000 individual pixels on the facade, to the benefits of full fabrication and commissioning off-site. Justin welcomed expert coder Will Pearson of Format – who assisted on The Pod’s scripting – to help field questions from the audience.
Planning success for Wilbury Grove
Competition win: Putney office
We have been commissioned by Ocubis to reconfigure an existing office development in Putney dating from the 1980’s, to provide additional area and improve the building’s relationship to the surrounding streetscape.
Our approach re-purposes the building by creating an articulated façade using a palette of dark brick, and adding two floors topped by a lightweight glass structure, increasing the area by 2,000 sqm. At ground level, a series of stepped retail units animate the street, and a courtyard garden softens the pedestrian approach.
We can’t wait to get started.
How can Conservation Areas change and develop in the 21st century?
On 20th March 2017, around 80 people gathered in the seminar space of Brighton’s i360 to debate 10 critical issues for the future of Brighton and Hove.
Coordinated by Design South East, Justin led a round table charrette with members of the local authority, amenity groups and fellow architects focusing on one of these ten issues: ‘How can Conservation Areas change and develop in the 21st century?’. The debate focused on how areas can accommodate much needed homes and employment whilst retaining their inherent character. Find out their conclusions to this and the other nine questions of the day in the DSE report.
Arup Atrium Finalists
Congratulations to the team led by Harry Godfrey for making it to the shortlist in Arup’s Circular Economy competition. The Living Library will transform Arup HQ’s atrium into an interactive object library, offering useful but underused items in a series of display cases suspended on pulleys. The installation promotes sustainability in the workplace by encouraging Arup employees to borrow and lend objects rather than purchase new.
The Pod has landed
Our first built project has just arrived outside Stanhope’s new White City Place. It is a mobile podcasting studio where Thought Starters is being recorded: a carefully curated season of one-on-one conversations between thought leaders in the creative industries. The Pod will also be available for the public to record their own podcasts. Its first occupiers were The QI Elves, who record a regular podcast ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’.
Find out how we used radio’s first broadcast words to create the facade of this unconventional build on our brand new Project page.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Harry Godfrey to our team. Justin first spotted Harry’s talent in 2009, when he tutored him at The Bartlett. More recently, they worked together on The Crown Estate’s prestigious St James’s Market scheme with Jonathan.
Harry finished his part III in 2015 and brings real creativity to the team.
The Empire Leicester Square
We’re lucky enough to be work with London & Regional on an exciting concept design for one of London’s iconic entertainment venues, The Empire, Leicester Square.
The site is a complex amalgamation of buildings contained within in an urban block, linked to eleven listed buildings, and only 15m of primary street frontage. Our scheme addresses how to create maximum impact at street level, and provide a coherent mix of uses including cinemas, a casino, hotel, office and restaurants within an eight-storey volume plus a 35m deep basement.
Buro Four ‘Ones to Watch’
At Buro Four’s annual drinks last night, the company announced their Ones to Watch – a campaign which celebrates emerging design talent across the industry. A shortlist of five practices was drawn up based on nominations and votes by fellow design and construction professionals, and we’re very happy to say that Fathom Architects made the cut. Each shortlisted practice was invited to exhibit at the reception, and we would like to extend a big thank you to Buro Four for their support. Mulled wines all round!
FX Design Awards
Blueprint Magazine: Students to watch
Justin was asked to review the work of this year’s graduates from RCA and UCL Bartlett. Some great work was on show this year. He was particularly impressed by the dreamy, natural-world-inspired ceramics of Katie Spragg.
Nature knows best – FX Magazine, ed. 270
Biomimicry – technology modelled on nature – is all around us: the sharkskin swimsuit, termite climate control, whale power, butterfly displays, Velcro, aircraft wings.
As advances in digital manufacture make applying the lessons learned from nature ever more achievable, FX Magazine marked 25 years by bringing together industry thought leaders to discuss opportunities in architecture.
Welcoming new members
Our new partner Jonathan Mitchell joined us this week, fresh from completing The Crown Estate‘s new St James’s Market scheme. Era Savvides joins too from Arch-T, specialists in digitally fabricating detailed architectural facades and sculptures. Era takes our digital design and manufacture knowledge to a new level – see her experimenting with 7-axis milling.
Welcome to Fathom guys. We’re happy to have you here.
The most exciting architecture start-up of the year?
Digital Construction News interviewed Justin as part of their series of talks with industry leaders who are embracing future trends. The interview explores the unfolding fields of robotics and digital fabrication and how these can be embraced by a new practice.
In DCN’s words: ‘As adept use of technology enables small teams to compete with established names, architecture is in a state of flux as never before. Justin Nicholls, ex of Fosters and Make has taken the plunge and started his own practice – Fathom – creating a unique team with a fresh approach to design.’
An interesting read, but their tweet did make us blush!
Concrete – past, present & future
Justin was invited to join Curtins at the Institute of Structural Engineers to present a tour of concrete past, present and future; from the thin concrete shell structures championed by the likes of Felix Candela & Ove Arup in the mid 20th century, to present and future applications using modern milling, moulding and digital fabrication. In front of a wide cross-section of the industry, the panel discussed the use of concrete both structurally and decoratively, from entire buildings down to the furniture that inhabits them.
It’s clear we are only held back by our imagination, with modern techniques now making possible what had become prohibitively expensive to create: the ability to lay thin, lightweight concrete over a contoured 3d printed scaffold rather than elaborate formwork allows exciting shapes to be created quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively; developments in lightweight concretes mean less load, less structure, less foundation, less transportation; precast panels reinforced with 3d woven fabrics allow lighter, finer facades. All helping our drive to sustainability and keeping concrete a valid material for the future.
For inspiration, check out the 76m spanning concrete shell roof at Smithfields Poultry market, said to be the largest ever built, which is only 76mm thick across much of its breadth or the beautiful ornamental precast facades at Kings Cross.
Bartlett Unit 20 Crits
Justin was one of the invited panel for The Bartlett (UCL) MArch Architecture Unit 20 crits on 20 May, lasting a marathon 10 hours!
This year the unit investigated the implications of people’s mobility, travel and communication, with projects ranging from Church Mosques in Rwanda to a full-scale wall mock-up constructed from felt embedded in concrete and glass.
As a Design Realisation tutor for the unit, Justin was excited to see how the technical studies had evolved into the final design concepts and proposals. As usual, the quantity and quality of work was breath-taking.
Fathom presents first design scheme
On day eight of Fathom, Justin and Tom presented the first design scheme for development/fund raising for a new multi-million pound building. We started with the client’s reference of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon!
A big thank you to the team for their hard work.
More details coming soon.
Softness in architecture – Bartlett crits
Murray Fraser and Justin Lau – tutors for BSc Arch Unit 0 at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL – invited Justin Nicholls as one of their guest critics for the end of year crit alongside George Epolito, Mary Johnson, Jack Newton and architectural historian Jonathan Hill.
Exploring notions of softness in architecture to create buildings and uses which enhance urban and cultural interaction, the students had developed a number of innovative building typologies for London including a nutrition school and slow sports club.
Fathom mentors WCCA Student
We are very excited to welcome our first mentee to Fathom, through the scheme established by the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects. Kate will be guided through her studies towards RIBA Part III qualification from May 2016, with Justin providing support and advice on practicing as a qualified architect.
Brand collaboration with dn&co
Fathom launches with an identity developed in collaboration with design agency dn&co, communicating the practice philosophy of pushing thinking beyond expected architectural solutions. dn&co created a brand name and identity which plays with two meanings of the word ‘Fathom’: as a human-scale unit used to measure depth, and the deeper understanding of a difficult problem, whilst the minimalist identity delivers a bold reductive visual strategy to provide a strong platform for our approach.
Fathom Architects launches
On 4 May – also International Star Wars Day (no coincidence) – Fathom Architects launched as a collaborative research-led design studio, based in London Bridge. Architect Justin Nicholls and creative producer Tom Shard are joined by architectural assistants Oliver James and Huma Mohyuddin, working on a number of sites in London and the South of England.