Issue 51The Practice of Collaboration

Our latest exhibition celebrates 20 years working with two of our longstanding collaborators. Here we take a closer look at what collaboration brings to our practice.

Our latest exhibition celebrates 20 years working with two of our longstanding collaborators. Here we take a closer look at what collaboration brings to our practice.

'Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do, whether it's with clients consultants and contractors - it makes life and work more fun!' Peter Clegg

Far from being the work of an isolated genius, the practice of architecture requires a team of people with different skills, knowledge and talents to work together.

Collaborative working, with our clients, within our team and with other disciplines and contractors is at the centre of our approach. Every challenge is addressed by the whole team in a spirit of trust, respect and creativity. This joined up way of working seeks to deliver best value to our client in both construction and operation and the best possible architecture for the people who use it.

Over the past forty years of FCBStudios, we have worked with any number of talented individuals, with companies both large and small, with young start-ups and companies with a long standing reputation. Each project presents different challenges and opportunities, and each collaboration lends a new approach and a new solution.

Our current exhibition in our London Studio celebrates twenty years of collaboration with landscape architects Grant Associates and communication design agency Thomas.Matthews.

In 1997 the three practices first worked together on the ground-breaking Earth Centre in Doncaster to transform a disused colliery into a public centre that promoted sustainable design in an engaging way. Through this project we found a shared belief in collaboration, sustainability and a passion for people centred design and creating better places. Peter Clegg, senior partner, FCBStudios said: "So much comes from mutual trust and synergy. If we didn’t know each so well and enjoy working together we might not have achieved all we have done.”

Collaborations between us have included Accordia Housing in Cambridge, The Aga Khan Academy in Dhaka, the Centre for Student Life in Cardiff, the University of Roehampton Library, Cambridge BioCentrum Masterplan and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Forest of Imagination  Bath’s annual pop-up art event lead by Grant Associates has become a fixture of the FCBStudios year, creating innovative and playful interventions in the city.

Collaboration is one of the most interesting parts of a project. The different perspectives brought by those from different backgrounds and training, but a common goal raises questions and finds solutions.

Studies at Accordia (1) have shown that living in a communal garden is found to ‘promote behaviours closely associated with well-being’ compared to a traditional, lower density, neighbourhood. While FCBStudios laid out the masterplan, the intense and hugely enjoyable design conversations with Grant Associates that followed ensured that through spatial relationships and planting at a macro and micro scale the neighbourhood creates its own context (2) of a community of homes within a garden.

The interplay between the building, the landscape and the visual communication can create a more complete whole. Our collaboration with Thomas.Matthews at University of Roehampton paired an elegant wayfinding strategy with the Library building to not only help the students find their way, but to subtly encourage good behaviour and an academic attitude.

We are currently working on a conservation project, with Buro Happold and Bristol Zoo, as well as Grant Associates, to protect the blue-eyed black lemur in Ankarafa Forest, Madagascar. The project also explores ground-breaking ideas for water conservation, energy efficiency and recycling which have emerged through our design discussions.

With each project we continue to learn, question and grow as individuals and as a Practice: ‘Sharing the same attitudes to social and environmental sustainability improves our chances of sticking to our principles.’ Peter Clegg.

Images

1. Collaborative by Nature Exhibition at FCBStudios London
2. The Earth Centre, Doncaster
3. University of Roehampton Library
4. Accordia Housing, Cambridge
5. Ankarafa Field Station, Madagascar

References

1. Jamie Anderson“Living in a communal garden” associated with well-being while reducing urban sprawl by 40%: a mixed-methods cross-sectional study , Frontiers in Public Health (25 July 2015)
2. RIBA National Award Citation

Collaborative by Nature is a free exhibition open between 9am and 5.30pm on weekdays from 4 June -27 July, coinciding with the London Festival of Architecture, at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, 20 Tottenham Street, London W12 4RG.