Group 18

Community centres are valuable spaces that bring together people from different walks of life. Their regular maintenance and upkeep are vital to address the changing needs of the communities they serve. This project aims to support the Birch Community Centre, which has been providing educational, recreational and leisure opportunities for the community to enjoy. Our focus is on providing modifications that can enable the Centre to remain financially sustainable by reaching out to a wider range of users. This project provides the perfect opportunity to explore and develop new skills across a broad range of media, all leading to viable outcomes that the Centre can use to attain grants for its refurbishment before looking into granting a Listed status.

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Janhavi N / Christopher B / Alisa W / Lihong X / Jiawen L

NAME: Alisa Wang

ATELIER: Praxxis

UNDERGRADUATE: The University of Edinburgh

ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS: Intersection of architecture and social sciences, humanitarian architecture, sustainability and architecture as an expression of culture

HOBBIES: Badminton, playing piano and guitar, travelling, foodie
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:37
NAME: Janhavi Narayanaswamy


UNDERGRADUATE: The University of Melbourne, Australia

ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS: Humanitarian architecture, community-centred design, sustainable and green architecture

HOBBIES: Travelling, cooking, fitness, recently discovered climbing!
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:38
NAME: Chris Brierley

ATELIER: Some Kind of Nature

UNDERGRADUATE: Oxford Brooks University

ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS: Sustainable design, physical model making, and social design

HOBBIES: Playing squash, getting out in nature, and cooking
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:39
NAME: Jiawen Li

ATELIER: Infrastructure Space

UNDERGRADUATE: China Academy of Art

ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS: observing the city on foot to capture the lifestyles of people in different places and learning the real needs of building users

HOBBIES: Travelling, hiking, photography, and sketching
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:40
NAME: Lihong Xing

ATELIER: &rchitecture

UNDERGRADUATE: Wenzhou Kean University

ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS: In-between spaces between indoors and outdoors, hierarchical sense of architectural space structure and intuitive architecture

HOBBIES: Travelling, enjoying delicious food, and appreciating scenic views that can relax the mind and body
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:41
Previously designed as a Parish hall by local architect James Medland Taylor in 1897, Birch Community Centre is an unlisted building that serves the community by providing educational, recreational and leisure opportunities. Working with statutory and voluntary organisations, they host various activities such as yoga, martial arts, a shared reading group and a monthly pub-and-pizza night. One of the most striking features of the community centre is its main hall, with a high vaulted, wooden hammer beam ceiling that can seat up to 120. The Centre offers its space for private hire at commercial rates to subsidise the cost of hosting socially beneficial events for the community. To further enhance its commercial value and appeal, the Centre aspires to enhance its interior and exterior lighting, with the former celebrating the architecture of the main hall’s ceiling and the latter serving as a visual cue to direct visitors to the main entrance. Additionally, they want to improve the building's circulation and programming by providing access and utilization to a presently inaccessible attic space in addition to providing alternative access routes to smaller meeting rooms alongside the main hall, which are currently only accessible through the main hall. These modifications are a valuable asset that ensures continued support to the community.
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:42
The project directly supports the local community by upgrading the space which would further facilitate social interactions. By enriching its appeal for commercial hire, the Centre can better reach out to the community by providing more classes, activities, and events at a subsidized rate.
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:44
This project provides a great opportunity to engage with a myriad of skills critical to aspiring architects. Workshops and collaboration sessions will be held to either learn new or improve existing software skills such as the Adobe Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign), Rhino for 3D modelling, and Vray for rendering. Physical skills such as hand drawing and physical model making will also be explored to communicate design ideas. Finally, there will be an opportunity to present the proposals to the collaborators, thereby applying verbal communication skills in a real-life setting.
Posted 13 Mar 2023 14:47
Day 1: Introductions

After introducing ourselves, the Birch Community Centre building, and the expectations for project outcomes, our group embarked on a short icebreaker activity. This activity involved sketching each other in pairs for 2 minutes, with the challenge of not lifting our pens from the page. Following this, the BA students voted on their preferred outcome groups to join: Group A - Physical Model-Making, Group B - 3D Model and Rendering, and Group C - Circulation & Programme. Once we divided into these groups, we engaged in discussions regarding our project outcomes, logistical challenges, working schedule, and software requirements. This productive start set the stage for the upcoming days.

Group A focused on budgeting for the physical model, exploring material options, and determining the appropriate scale for the final model. Group B concentrated on preparing the rendering software for the Rhino and VRay workshops scheduled for Thursday and discussed initial individual research. Group C examined the existing floor plans and discussed the desired drawing outcomes.
Posted 9 May 2023 22:38
Day 2: Site Introduction & Sketch survey

Today we began on-site with a talk from Jonathan Hodgkinson, chair of the trustees for Birch Community Centre. Jonathan took the BA students through the history of the site, its community significance within North Manchester and its architectural merit from architect James Medland Taylor.

After this Jonathan took the students around the site and pointed out architectural moments and key details of the building. This included a tour of the building exterior and showing the various extensions that had been applied and a visit into the basement and up into the attic space that team C will be looking to replan as their key outcome.

After the tour each group focused on their outcome, group A looked to record dimensions and material details for their physical model, while team B and C began sketch exercises to record key architectural moments significant to lighting and the circulation of space. After this team B and C stayed on site to keep developing their outcomes whilst Team A went into university and divided up the tasks of model making and agreed the section cuts, manufacturing techniques and material approaches.
Posted 11 May 2023 12:35
Day 3: Digital Workshops

Today, the BA students from Groups B and C participated in digital workshops conducted by the M.Arch students to better understand 3D modelling and rendering.

Starting off with Rhino, the students were introduced to the basic user interface, followed by essential commands for 3D modelling. They were then tasked to use the existing floor plans of the site to model the building.

After breaking for lunch, the M.Arch students led a workshop on rendering using V-Ray. The BA students learnt about framing views, adjusting light settings, applying and scaling material textures on the models they were working with, followed by a brief exploration of post-production works on Photoshop.
Posted 11 May 2023 22:05
Day 3 + 4: Material Experimentation + CAD preparations

Group A developed interior and exterior elevations based off the surveys undergone on site on day 2. This led towards production of several laser cut files that will be actioned on day 5 and 6 to manufacture the bulk of the model. Whilst this was done material experimentation was carried out to try and replicate the historic grain of Birch Community structure timber structure.
Posted 15 May 2023 18:42
Day 4: Brainstorming

Group B and C worked in our assigned room in the Grosvenor East building and started brainstorming ideas for both lighting and circulation options. We introduced the concept of electrical planning to BA students in Group B, who then started producing their own plans for their proposed lighting schemes. Group C drew out their programming options for the new proposed staircase into the attic, creating some beautiful and diverse set of plans.
Posted 16 May 2023 15:17
Day 5: Truss & Laser cut & Material research

Group A cut their first truss and laser cut based on the laser cut files on Day 5. At the same time they did some model material research, trying to restore the building's material finishes.The material research and laser cutting were carried out simultaneously to ensure that the best effect of the building materials could be achieved quickly after the model lapping was completed.
Posted 16 May 2023 19:02
Day 5: Developing Ideas

Today, BA students tried out the school computers in the CAD lab to start individual group tasks.
Team A cut their first truss and laser cut today in B15.
Team B started brainstorming about the lighting designs for the interior of the building based on a variety of reference images found on Friday. One group used hanging lights, which can effectively reduce the distance from the light source to the floor and improve the light conditions in the interior. The MArch team used a combination of both types of light, which was both practical and innovative.
According to the brainstorming session on Friday, Team C started to turn the paper drawings into electronic drafts. In addition, the BA students created a total of 4-5 options for the placement of the staircase and the design of the loft space, which was very feasible, and the MArch students also designed implementable solutions through their knowledge of the site and internal regulations.
Posted 17 May 2023 11:27
Day 6: Client Presentation & truss assembly

Group A began the day with an early start to get onto the laser cutter, cutting 3 more sheets for the exterior façade of Birch community centre. We then met our full MSA live group at 11, to present our development thus far to the Birch Community trustees. The client was impressed with the progress made so far and enthusiastic to the final outcome, we agreed a collection date and means of transport. We finished on site by 12 and met again at B.15 at 14:00 to continue developing the truss façade and stained the truss.
Posted 17 May 2023 19:18
Day 6: Group Feedback Round

We are back on site again! This provided us with an opportunity to check in with the other groups as well as update our collaborators on our progress. The BA students from each group, supported by their M.Arch leaders presented their ideas, which was followed by inputs provided by the collaborators and other students. Overall, the collaborators were very happy with our progress and are looking forward to our final outcomes!
Posted 17 May 2023 20:53
Day 7: Finalising outputs

The main task for Team B and Team C today was to determine the final output.

Team B has found the optimal result for each grouping after yesterday's continuous testing. Hence, each result was embellished and integrated today.

Through the revision and design of the plan, Team C has produced sections with different options, which have made the final effect of the plan (attic and ground floor) more concrete.
Posted 17 May 2023 21:35
Day 7: Painting truss & windows & doors

Group A began painting and gluing the cut Truss today in preparation for the roof section the next day. At the same time, according to the site survey photos, the doors and windows of the color. In order to restore the true indoor effect, the indoor floor material coloring test was carried out.
Posted 18 May 2023 11:02
Day 8: Refining & Collating Outcomes

On Day 8, the MAs gathered the outcomes of BA1 and BA2 students, meticulously preparing them for handover to our collaborators. This involved ensuring that all drawings and visualizations were consistent and aligned with the final document, which are to be handed to our collaborators in the following days. Meanwhile, Team A progressed with the physical model, starting with the assembly of walls atop the prepared base.
Posted 19 May 2023 14:44
Day 9: Final Outcomes - Team B

Team B successfully finalized the lighting scheme document on our last MSA Live day! It features four diverse lighting options, each accompanied by an electrical plan, a lighting fixture product list, interior artificial lighting renders, exterior lighting visualizations and collages. The team's exceptional work showcases their attention to detail, creativity, and dedication. We are excited to share these innovative lighting solutions with our collaborators.
Posted 19 May 2023 15:08
Day 9: Team A

On our final day of MSA live we looked to begin assembly of the model, on the previous day we had cut pieced for the concealed structure to shape. All internal and external walls were cut and painted, as were all window frames. The pivotal roof trussed and been cut, varnished and glued. Unfortunately construction of the model took longer than expected and we were unable to finish assembly before the B.15 workshop closed. Therefore final construction and assembly will be carried out early next week. This was in part due to only one laser cutter being operation in B.15. We had allowed a buffer period with the client coming to view the model on Friday the 26th of June. The client will come to Humanities Bridgford Street building to view the model and take a tour of the model making facilities, this was offered as Harry Spooner (trustee of Birch Community center) underwent a year of teaching in Architecture in the Bridgford Street building. The client also kindly agreed to loan us the model so the BA’s could exhibit it. This is a great opportunity for model team A to showcase their extensive hard work and commitment undergone during MSA project, alongside providing publicity for the architectural merit of Birch Community centre.
Posted 19 May 2023 19:09