Design for living, working

TCN Architechts put money and CAD programmes where their mouths are

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What is it?
This is a question East London property lovers are likely to ask when they see a way-out new building designed by TCN Architects. Instead of using their clients as crash test dummies, director AJ Corbett, said they used their own building for the experiment.
Corbett admits that they are out on a limb with the new design of their own offices in Smartt Road.
Some furniture is made from cardboard.
Corbett, known for wearing bright floral pants to art events and hip black leather jackets, said that in keeping with their desire to break with trends, the staff had a competition to see who could design the best furniture out of cardboard.
In another innovation likely to surprise property design lovers, he said they tried to make the building see-through.
He said that between all the glass, they used cladded panels, each one depicting “one of the buildings we’ve designed over the years”.
At the officially opening on Thursday, Corbett, one of the designers of homes at the upmarket Olivewood Private Estate and Golf Club, said: “It’s been a long process, but we’re really happy with the outcome. We create innovative spaces for clients all the time so this time it’s been really nice to do it for ourselves and be able to take chances we wouldn’t impose on clients.
“We’ve tested out and played with different materials. It’s a very simple building. It was an old house so we’ve just refurbished and extended it.”
He said the design was inspired by lots of light, ventilation and open views.
He showed the Dispatch their front desk made from cardboard. “We didn’t want to have a boring, standard corporate desk so there was a bit of a competition in the office to see who could design the best model and this one won,” said Corbett. “It’s all hand-cut and was built up as we would build an architecture model for any project.”
He said the panel designs were visible from the outside and indoors as they were spread evenly along the glass walls and windows around the building. He said of the panels: “When we’re sitting at our desks and working on something new, we can look out and reflect on all the work we’ve already done.”
The building also makes use of rich colours of red, orange and blue.
The offices also boast a rich collection of artwork made by local South African artists.
Greenery and trees were also central to the design with plants set out along the boundary walls and a small orchard near the parking area behind the building...

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