The Business in April

News and pictures from the design sector

Building begins on Hassell’s First Light Pavilion at Jodrell Bank

Work has started on site for the University of Manchester’s First Light Pavilion at the renowned Jodrell Bank Observatory in Macclesfield. Designed by international practice Hassell, the centre will celebrate the site’s heritage by sharing stories of Jodrell Bank’s scientists and explaining the principles of radio astronomy.

A grass-covered dome rises up from the landscape, to the exact dimensions of the 76.2m diameter dish of the Lovell Telescope. The single-storey structure will be a concrete shell, with a curved entrance due south to reflect the arc of the sun, while a glass slot cut-out will cast a dramatic line of light along the meridian into the dome.

A cylindrical ‘drum’ in the centre of the mound will house a 150-seat auditorium and the exhibition space – for the latter, Hassell worked closely with both the university’s astronomy department and exhibition designers Casson Mann. The exhibition area makes use of parts of the original 1957 observation dish of the Lovell Telescope for its projection surfaces.

The pavilion is designed to integrate with the surrounding ecology, and is energy-efficient due to a high-performing envelope for insulation, air-tightness and surface water attenuation.

AOC architecture reveals designs for V&A Museum of Childhood

The V&A Museum of Childhood in London will be closing its doors In May for two years for a major £13m revamp. Leading the fit-out of the Grade II listed building will be London-based practice AOC Architecture, who will work across three permanent galleries, the entrance, shop and cafe.

Moving from a focus on social history to an interactive model led by the way children play and learn, the redevelopment hopes to champion creativity and ‘nurture the next generation of artist, designers, makers and innovators’, says the V&A.

AOC is keen to work with natural light, vibrant colours and soft elements to create playful, multisensory spaces. There will be areas for hands-on making and dressing up as well as a 125-person performance space to host a daily programme of family activities. The main hall (pictured) will be reimagined as ‘The Town Square’ – a social space at the heart of the museum. AOC engaged with local families and schools to co-design the museum. |

Herman Miller and Logitech G develop furniture for gamers

A new project between Logitech G – a brand of Logitech International specialising in PC and console gaming gear – and Herman Miller, whose experience in seating design goes back a century, aims to create the highest-performance furniture solutions for gamers. The partnership will enable the companies to research, design and manufacture industry-leading furniture solutions for e-sports athletes, gamers and streamers. The furniture needs to be designed to allow gamers to perform at their best – remaining focused and comfortable for long periods of time – as well as look to the long-term potential health concerns. The first product, a gaming chair, is set to launch in the spring of this year.

DesignAgency opens new studio in Washington DC

Following a period of growth in 2019, DesignAgency is opening an additional studio in Washington DC, adding to those in Toronto, Barcelona and Los Angeles. The new studio will focus on expanding DesignAgency’s hospitality interiors in North America and will be led by the newly appointed design director and senior associate David Hill, alongside managing director and senior associate Alexandra Bruemmer Cole, who has been promoted internally. Hill is the founder of DH Design in Los Angeles and has 25 years’ experience in hospitality and residential interiors for well-known brands such as Kimpton, Westin and Autograph hotels. Bruemmer Cole helped establish DesignAgency’s LA studio in 2017 and has since managed its US clients.

Guild Living submits plans to transform Epsom Hospital buildings

Guild Living is a business set up in partnership with Legal & General to create and manage housing for older people. Its new proposal details plans to redevelop Epsom Hospital’s unused NHS buildings in Surrey to provide a mixed-use scheme of housing, cafes and a children’s nursery, as well as care facilities for older people, with some of these directly supporting Epsom Hospital. As well as 300 homes, public and private spaces are designed to attract multigenerational residents to the scheme.

Glenn Howells Architects completes English National Ballet’s new London home

As it celebrates its 70th year, English National Ballet (ENB) has relocated to a new 93,000 sq ft space in east London. The move brings separate campuses together into a purpose-built ‘dance factory’ by Glenn Howells Architects.

Behind a white translucent glass exterior the centre contains the world-class facilities the centre needs – including seven full-sized rehearsal studios, and costume, medical and production facilities – and caters for new community outreach capabilities with engagement and learning spaces. The English National Ballet School has also relocated here, occupying two floors.

The centre is located on London City Island, a peninsular on the Thames near Canning Town station and also a new neighbourhood, which is being developed by EcoWorld Ballymore.

ENB founders Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin wished to bring classical ballet to the widest possible audience, and the hope is that ENB will be a ‘cultural anchor’ for this new neighbourhood. Tamara Rojo CBE, artistic director of ENB, describes the new space as one ‘where people of all ages, young and old, from all backgrounds can enjoy our art form.’

Glenn Howells Architects was briefed to create a new focal point for ballet in London. Challenged with the narrow site, the firm created ‘something that is elegant, pared-back and beautiful, but also hardworking.’

In order to meet the budget, standard ‘off-the-shelf’ components were used, and mixed with exposed concrete and the Linit glass of the exterior.

Willmott Dixon builds lions’ den in Isle of Wight

Each year, more than 80 per cent of staff at construction company Willmott Dixon donate their time to community activities. The firm’s most recent community project provides housing – but with a twist in this case, as it has made a home for two lions at the Isle of Wight Zoo on the Sandown seafront.

Vigo and Kumba were saved from a Spanish circus, and their new home will be far more comfortable than the lorry trailer they are used to, as it includes a heated sleeping area and reinforced full-height windows, (in addition to plenty of outdoor space). Willmott Dixon was keen to volunteer its skills, time, materials and supply chain to design and build the lions’ home, and is delighted to have reduced the zoo’s costs for the project too.


Purpose-built emergency family accommodation approved for Newham

Planning permission has been granted by London’s Newham Council for purpose-built emergency family homes by Morris + Company. Commissioned by developer Bedu, this is a new model for families waiting to be rehoused, offering a safe, managed and child-friendly environment. A total of 27 units will be designed for families of two to five members in size, with added amenities and space for support staff. Each unit has its own front door and dedicated garden space, and amenities provide individual washrooms and spaces for cooking and eating as families. Interaction is encouraged with communal lounges, laundry facilities and a large kitchen for communal events, as well as in central courtyards. The courtyard spaces will also encourage children to play with textured surfaces and interactive objects, and is focused on enshrining the notion of childhood for the affected families.

LSA unveils plans to transform access to the architecture profession

Now in its fifth year delivering an ARB/RIBA Part 2 programme, the London School of Architecture (LSA) is planning a Part 1 course for 2021/22 to enable the recruitment of students directly from school and widen access to the profession. Among its pledges to ‘democratise architecture’ is an aim to establish a student body that is 50 per cent ethnically diverse and 50 per cent from disadvantaged neighbourhoods by 2030. New students will also benefit from access to the Practice Network – a group of 120 London-based firms offering paid placements to offset tuition fees. 

Correction from March issue: Momentum supplied the furniture for Squaredot’s IM Group HQ

FX Magazine would like to apologise for a typo in the March issue’s project feature on the new IM Group HQ, designed by Squaredot. The article should have listed Cardiff-based Momentum as the furniture supplier for the project. Momentum worked carefully with Squaredot, working to ‘make Squaredot’s brilliant ideas fit,’ says PJ Statham, Momentum’s managing director. From a project that included a number of ‘firsts’, Statham mentions a few highlights. These include ‘odd-shaped’ tables designed by Squaredot. Momentum worked with two manufacturers on the creation and used Fenix and ply tops with chamfered edges, while Momentum’s fitters were able to find standard legs (Gazelle legs from Capdell) for these custom tops, which kept the costs down.

The custom boardroom table from Kolpa UK (pictured below) is a unique asymmetrical wedge shape designed to fit the meeting room. Made of Kerrock acrylic, the top was made in parts, then glued and sanded to a satin finish on site. Its supports are anchor-fixed to the floor slab, and it has built in connectivity ports with flush-fitting access flaps.

Elsewhere, small coffee tables are made from recycled skateboards, acoustic pods are made by Vank, and customised tops and desks are from Holmris. Outside, Zebra rocking chairs use a unique knitted fabric from Fast Spa.

Momentum secured a wide diversity of designs and bespoke work thanks to the contributions of all the suppliers listed below.

Manufacturers: Holmris, Brunner, Capdell, Iduna, Flokk, B&B Italia, Vank, Naughtone, Modus, Kolpa, Andreu World, RS Barcelona, Fast Spa, Focused Skateboards, Jennifer Newman, Enea Designs, Ergonom, Akaba, De Vorm, Munna Design, Humanscale, Stua, Lema, Pedrali, Quinti Sedute, Kusch and Co, Vitra

Inspired by the amazing products showcased in this project, we are running a new editorial feature called In The Wild where we ask suppliers and manufacturers to send us images of their products in a context, just like this. We’ll be inviting a guest editor to select the very best to publish each month. Contact: editorial@, and we’ll send the brief over.


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