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It's all in the DETAIL...

Updated: Nov 21, 2019


Studying architecture can be really frustrating, especially when you believe that a building design is possible but others can't see how! Essentially, all the ideas in your head must be drawn - by hand or on computer, it doesn't matter - visual clarification is the only way forward.


This autumn at the School of Architecture, Falmouth University, the second year of my study is in full swing. The 18-20 RIBA Part I class began with the ARC210 project to design a farmhouse within a community of twenty homes each tasked with growing a crop that would produce high yields of protein or fat! In my wisdom, I choose watercress, a superfood in its own right that deserves a whole blog to itself!


I completed a concept for a building that has water running through the ground floor and around the building through arches; I placed the accommodation above suitable for the family growing my watercress. In ARC220, we now enter the stage of detailing exactly how the building will perform in terms of thermal efficiency. Before the exercise, my section at 1:50 looked like this, but the upper floor was a little top heavy and needed a rethink..

ARC210 - Watercress Farmhouse Concept - Studying Architecture
ARC210 - Watercress Farmhouse Concept

Building and Living

As Catherine Mohr points out in the TEDTalk video below, we are all now very conscious of how we can help save and planet and improve our environment. Our small efforts are made in good faith guided by the knowledge to which we have been exposed. Indeed, we must all keep learning, avoid the hype and understand the truth.


One of the ways we can help to reduce waste is by thinking carefully about the materials we use to build. In addition, we must think about how they perform together to make our homes more comfortable; a principle laid down by the Passivhaus concept; 'build it right, make it airtight'. See more here: https://passivehouse-international.org/upload/2012-04-PHT_PH_Intro_Guide.pdf My own diagram overlooks some of these concepts, but makes a start in understanding the principles...

The Watercress Farmhouse concept diagram - Juila Preece for ARC210
The Watercress Farmhouse concept diagram - Juila Preece for ARC210

Building bridges

The following video may be a bit obvious, but it helps to explain the 'thermal bridge' issue I must overcome in detailing my building. There is also more info quite useful found through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS5Ch1DsUSs

The 4 D's of Detail and 5 Physics Principles

So in working how I would solve some of the design detail in my watercress house discovered the 4 D's of; Deflection - Drainage - Drying - Durability. This also went in hand with five basic physics principles; Gravity, Pressure Differential, Kinetic Energy, Surface Tension and Capillary Action. I was now beginning to realise why there are so many different types of architectural consultants that specialise in building detail; masterplanning, heritage and conservation, environmental, sustainability, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing), not to mention cost, structure and services.


Over the next couple of weeks I will share some of the knowledge I gain and the final plans for my project.


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