Author: Dom Wong -
The project name ‘Stitch’ is not something the group had previously come together to discuss and agreed upon (nor is it a metaphor for the alienlike landscape design); it just naturally came about because it couldn’t describe our Basil Spence project any better - not only does it represent the design intent of tying together the views, place and people of Bath, it also describes the very project that has brought us closer both as a team of designers and a group of friends.
The brief to design a single side of a stadium stand was initially a puzzling proposition to us, but what became apparent very quickly and eventually turned out to be a key to the success of the scheme was the fact that none of the architects had the mindset of creating something particularly unique that was to be the manifestation of their own architectural style and methodology.
Instead of spending time looking at how out of the ordinary our ‘stand’ could become, we collectively turned to look at how much more rooted into the city this stand could be than it was before. Whenever asked about the ‘additional program’, most groups tended to provide a clear answer of what that might be. I, on the other hand, could never do so, reason being that in researching about Bath, the future and the topic of sustainability in an attempt to precisely respond to the brief, we came to realise that the site had the potential of providing so much more than a single supplementary function – it serves to be a cycle hub, a riverside park, a place for mental health consultation, the centre of a greater green space and an entrance to a much more pedestrianised Bath city centre – everything that it could be in order to give back to the people without undermining its primary function, as a stadium stand.
With that vision in mind, we went through different iterations of sketches and models, yet despite working towards a common goal, occasionally there would be arguments about the approach that we take in order to reach this goal. One thing I learned about working as part of a team is that as well as being critical, one needs to be constantly open to other opinions, be willing to take a leap of faith and go ahead with someone else’s idea sometimes in order to allow oneself to see certain things in a whole new perspective; the scheme will never move forward if one is afraid to fail
I am glad to have worked with Holly and Rory, our two engineers who had been incredibly helpful and engaged in the discussions of the design process so much so that sometimes it feels as if we had 5 architects on board. Utilising the personality and skill differences between each individual allowed us to realise a plausible scheme that received very positive feedback at the interim crit, which ultimately and unfortunately caused us to refrain ourselves from further exploring the potential of the scheme; we ended up spending weeks going in circles trying to refine the stadium stand bit by bit, and looking back we could have perhaps made the scheme work a little harder.
This project had been a valuable experience in terms of teambuilding, organisation and time management, and it had made me realise, perhaps, it is fine too for us to have a life outside the studio without hindering the quality of work we produce.