We see each project as a close creative collaboration between our clients, the design team, specialist advisors and stakeholders in the project.
Stakeholders play a crucial role in the success of a new project. We work closely with clients to ensure that the views of interested communities are heard at the beginning of each project and an effective dialogue is established. We are experienced in managing complex stakeholder, client and community consultation. This often involves articulating national and local planning policy in a way that is understandable for participants, helping them understand its implications so that they can meaningfully contribute to the evolving design.
We often work with specialist fabricators and artists to inform our architectural language, selecting materials and designing details that are carefully considered both for the functional and aesthetic requirements of each building.
Our enthusiasm for art is deeply rooted within our design culture and we enjoy working with artists to add another dimension to a project. We are interested in the way artists deal with materials, how they give potency to them and how space and light are explored in paintings and sculpture.
In addition, our experience of working directly with artists and with art exhibitions has a significant influence on our design approach. Above, our recent exhibition design for Bridget Riley at the De La Warr Pavilion, East Sussex.
Norman Ackroyd - The Sainsbury Laboratory
Norman Ackroyd was invited by David and Susie Sainsbury to visit the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, with the suggestion that in following Darwin’s voyage on HMS Beagle 1831 – 6, he might be inspired to produce a mural for the Sainsbury Laboratory.
Ackroyd returned with many water-colour drawing books, brimful. The concept for the finished work came early one morning: instead of a single image, a frieze of forty etched metal plates would better provide the canvas range needed to express the extraordinary diversity of fauna, flora and landscapes, but above all, atmospheres, of the touchstone islands.
The result is a gazetteer of the volcanic forms and shapes of the Galapagos Islands, interspersed with intimate portraits of the flora and fauna – preening penguins, attenuated flamingos, Galapagos cacti, endemic daisies, a pair of flightless cormorants.
The play of light on water ripples like fluid bond between the forty plates, uniting dramatic scenes, where a squall blows into a bluff or a flock of gulls beat the air, with one more tranquil image. A subtle rhythm is created by the repetition of familiar profiles from different perspectives, such as the jagged spires of Kicker Rock off San Cristobal Island.
Galapagos is installed on the south elevation of the Gilmour Wing of the Sainsbury Laboratory, in the heart of the Botanic Garden. It is a natural artistic extension and reflection of the scientific ideas that underpin both the Botanic Garden and the Sainsbury Laboratory.
(Extracted from text by Juliet Day)
Susanna Heron - The Sainsbury Laboratory
Susanna Heron is an artist who has gained international recognition for her collaborations with architects, large-scale site-specific works and drawings in shallow engraved relief. Her stone frieze ‘Henslow's Walk’ for the Sainsbury Laboratory exemplifies the responsive attitude she assumes in her work to her surroundings and the project at hand as well as reflecting her interest in botany.
Immersing herself within the Laboratory’s work, Heron borrowed digital photographs of 4951 collations of native plant samples from the Cambridge Herbarium, which is housed within the Laboratory. These highly sophisticated visual documents, made by John Stevens Henslow, botanist and mentor of Charles Darwin, explored variation in plant species as a prelude to Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
On developing a fascination for the work of Henslow, Heron's central concern to encourage looking as a means for thought reflects the influence of the botanist and his work upon the aims of the Laboratory.
Employing her favoured medium of drawings in shallow relief, Heron has created a backdrop to the Laboratory’s lecture theatre intricately carved into the yellow French limestone, which forms part of the fabric of the building. Heron builds a poetic narrative that allows a work to be explored depending on the subjective engagement of the observer. Not unlike the tracery of a palimpsest each paired drawing appears as though connected by an invisible presence.
William Pye - The Sainsbury Laboratory
The natural world is a source of inspiration for many artists, and William Pye’s observations of natural forms, combined with his creative use of geometry, lie at the heart of his sculptures.
His sculptures produced for the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge belong to an already established series of work: ‘Starbursts’. Four Starbursts have been set at ground level within the paving in the central courtyard. Water is jetted from below and bursts onto discs of glass, where the droplets cling on and travel outwards, eventually dropping away.
A beam of light is directed upwards within the jet and a ring of LED lights around the circumference, with programmable colour changes, illuminate the water across the glass.
His artwork interprets and mirrors the natural world—reflected in the flow of water and the subtle rhythms created by form—acting as an accent to the Laboratory itself and the Botanic Gardens.
Susanna Heron - House of Fraser Bristol
Susanna Heron created a bas-relief in glass and bronze integral to the Portland Roche fossil-stone facade of Stanton Williams’ House of Fraser on Bond Street South. The bronze panels were cast and milled, interspersed with brass cassettes, 7x35 metres at ground level. Additionally a three-storey glass window was etched and sandblasted, 14.4 x 13.4 metres located above the bronze frieze.
“This work is both charged and completed by the quality of marine light particular to Bristol. The drawings for the relief were made in response to the stone, scale and geometry of the architecture to bring a sense of landscape and an awareness of reflected light and cast shadows; a realisation of the moment.” Susanna Heron
Peter Randall-Page - Millennium Seedbank
Peter Randall-Page is a British sculptor and visual artist whose connection to nature began in the Sussex countryside. For Randall-Page, organic forms are places to begin, shapes that push the artist to explore his own response to them.
In 2000 Randall-Page embarked on the first of a series of immensely significant projects, the creation of ‘Inner Compulsion’ for the Stanton Williams’ designed Millennium Seed Bank. Seeds have always been a source of inspiration and wonder to the artist, both in their shape and in the capacity for life they hold in such concentrated, compact form, “hermetic and discrete in themselves, like an unexploded grenade of organic energy”.
‘Inner Compulsion’, rather than being a literal representation of a seed, seeks to give expression to the essence of what a seed is, with the labyrinthine layers of complex information it holds symbolised in the whorling carved lines covering its surface. This work was the first of three tripartite spherical sculptures, the other two – In Mind of Monk and Multiplication by Division – are featured in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition.
Gordon Young - Carlisle Millennium Project
Gordon Young is a visual artist who focuses on creating art for the public domain. As part of Carlisle's millennium project, a new underground extension was built to connect Tullie House Museum with Carlisle Castle. Stanton Williams designed the new tunnel link and pavilion.
The theme of the Boarder Reiver families became the focus of the work (Gordon Young was born in Carlisle and from an ancient Reiver family) as the Archbishop of Glasgow's infamous curse of 1525 was re-presented. Aimed at the Reiver families known for terrorising the region, the curse was read out by priests in every parish in an attempt to curb the illegal activities.
Inscribed into a large 14-ton granite boulder his 'Mother of all Curses' sits at the end of an 80 metre path which bears the names of all the Reiver families. Even before its installation, the stone caused controversy, being cited as a possible 'shrine for devil worship' and even being blamed for the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.