Freehaus designs chameleonic Bookshop and Meeting Space for the RIBA at ecobuild 2018

Freehaus design a vibrant bookshop and meeting space for RIBA at Ecobuild 2018.

How were you commissioned?:    
RIBA hosted a design competition to identify a practice to design their new RIBA bookshop and meeting space.

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:    
RIBA together with Rockpanel and ROCKWOOL set out to create a vibrant and highly-visible, RIBA-branded retail and meeting space, delivered in a cost-effective manner. RIBA were involved throughout, helping to establish the design principles and operational requirements and guiding the process through to completion.

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:    
The competition brief set out in association with Rockpanel and ROCKWOOL stipulated the use of their products in innovative and exciting ways. Working closely with the manufacturers and their technical teams meant we were able to utilise the products effectively whilst showcasing them aesthetically.

How did your previous experience help you with this project?:    
As a practice we have worked on the design of temporary installations and exhibitions for events such as London Design Festival, Tokyo Designers Week and London Festival of Architecture. For the latter we showcased a marble pavilion we built alongside a wide team of collaborators, comprising academics, designers and students. The pavilion, built in the historic marble region of Alentejo, Portugal, uses waste marble to form two non-reinforced marble structures, intended to showcase the inherent beauty in pieces of marble that are often discarded and undervalued due to veining and colour.

Can you explain the layout of the project:    
The design of the stand is deliberately simple and presents a singular iridescent curve, which subtly changes colour according to the shifting flow of people and variation of light. This curve, created using Rockpanel cladding system divides the space in two distinct areas. On one side the space hosts the RIBA bookshop and an area for public talks, featuring a wall with an integrated sound system. In the second area, a series of niches offer a quieter space for informal meetings and moments for rest.

What problems or challenges did you face?:    
Working with a set-up time of less than 20 hours meant that all items had to be pre-fabricated off site to ensure the installation went as smoothly as possible. Working within a renowned exhibition event meant full compliance with strict regulatory approvals processes were required.

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:    
Across the space, a series of mobile plinths explicitly reference the key moments in the life-cycle ROCKWOOL/Rockpanel products, providing visitors with a visceral showcase of the product. These range from the initial basalt rock, through to the spun fibres made of molten rock to the final briquettes made from waste Rockwool and Rockpanel products and used as part of the ignition process at the start of the product life-cycle.

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:    
The key success of the project was that we were able to take everyday construction materials, such as foil clad insulation for beams and pipes and quilt insulation used for lofts, and showcase them in a such way to become almost luxury in their application.

Suppliers: ROCKWOOL Rockpanel

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