‘Piercy Conner is one of the new generation of British architects interested in adding poetry to the pragmatic. The young practice has a backlist of admired, imaginative projects where the old, high-energy, Newtonian assumptions of building geometry give way to more flexible and relativist concepts.’
— Stephen Bailey, The Observer
 


Transformational Architecture and Design

Concept Design and Realisation by Author, Architect, Artist Richard Conner.
20 Transformational Projects Spanning 20+ Years.

Click on the headings or project titles below to scroll to a specific section, concept, or design.
If you have a Transformational Project you’d like to discuss please email Richard Conner to arrange a discovery session.

 
‘Piercy Conner has emerged in the last five years as one of the most conceptually advanced architectural practices of its generation, extending the theory and practice of architecture in a way that demonstrates a profound understanding of its cultural and communicational possibilities. Extending architecture, that is, beyond the practice of designing buildings into wider forms of social engagement.’
— British Council
 

Recreational Retreats
Artist, Author, Musician, Wellness, and Studio Retreats.

The Cave 2.0 Author Studio Retreat, Thailand.

Designed as a cost-effective, simple-to-transport-and-construct, upgrade to the existing run-down timber structure in The Cave this physically low-impact, minimal footprint, jungle sky-platform provides significantly more unobstructed, useable, and enjoyable floor space than its predecessor.

This is achieved by projecting a cantilevered timber Vierendeel truss and deck structure further into the jungle to take advantage of the intoxicating high-level views of the ocean beyond and jungle wall peninsula below.

A single pitched roof plane encloses the platform and glass-walled bedroom box shading it from direct sunlight and protecting it from monsoon winds and driving rain.

 

A kitchenette with storage is sheltered below the main living, working, and sleeping space in the studio retreat’s tiered and terraced undercarriage.

 
 

Toroidal Flow Yin Yang Studio Wellness Retreat, Thailand.

Science vs Spirituality

Universal Toroidal Flow

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang represent the concept of dualism which describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be interconnected and complementary.

Science suggests that the familiar yin yang symbol is a necessarily simple 2D representation of a more complex 3D universal toroidal energy flow.

One that manifests in the physical world at all scales as the Coriolis rotational effect observable in galactic formation through to quantum mechanical behaviour.

Concept Development

Inspiration

This proposal draws inspiration from these spiritual and scientific concepts to form a holistic design imbued with both ancient philosophical and modern technological insights.

The purpose of spiritual practice is to reconcile the vastness of the universe and its underlying energy, spirit, or ‘Love’, with our day-to-day human condition prone existence within the physical human realm as we journey back hOMe to our source.

Intention

The intention of Toroidal Flow Yin Yan Studio is to nurture these unseen spiritual principles and corresponding practices by creating a three dimensional physical form that fosters their embodiment in the material world, visually, environmentally, and programatically.

Design DNA

The five levels of accommodation are connected and accessed by a double helix DNA staircase at the core of the design’s toroidal form. This allows segregated multi-user and multi-purpose access to different spaces so privacy is maintained.

Kundalini Serpent

The staircase wraps around the central structure rising out of the sunken swimming pool into the ground floor studio, facilities, and amenity spaces. Like a Kundalini serpent It then winds through the living and bedroom accommodation levels up to the rooftop stargazing terrace lounge.

Building Within A Building

Constructing standalone structures within the overall toroidal roof space (building within a building) lends itself to simpler construction and interfacing, both critical considerations when designing tropical island enclosures.

Monocoque Grid-Shell ‘Singularity’ Structure

The overall toroidal design and layout forms a yin yang symbol in plan and elevation. The inherently robust and spatially flexible enclosure is a composite grid-shell structure clad with charred timber shingles.

The monocoque structure spans from the natural rainwater funnel of the building’s central ‘singularity’ core to the outer edges of the space without the need for secondary columns to support the roof.

The Cave 1.0 Writing Platform, Thailand.

Back to Basics. The breeze is whistling gently through the wind chime, the harmonic hum reverberates off the majestic megalithic stones surrounding and enclosing The Cave, the Ricardo Rochilez Retreat.

I notice something different for the first time since I can remember. I don't feel like I need to be anywhere else or doing anything differently. I’m exactly where I am and doing what I should be doing right now where I want to be doing it. I’m thankful that I'm not trying to work out how to fix my life. For a change, I’m living and working it and enjoying both the process and the outcomes as they unfold.

I look over the retrospective design brief summary and the schedule of works I’d created for my project records shortly after The Cave 1.0 was completed, photographed and ready for me to inhabit.

I’m struck how what I’d synchronistically and spontaneously created in and for The Cave could in the most part also relate to and describe me. It’s as if at the same time I was refurbishing The Cave the same was happening to me.

Watch the video below.
Read more about the project here.

Richard Conner Architect Artist The Cave 1.0 Black and White Photo 800px 80PC.jpg

The Chandelier Room Artist Studio Performance Art Space.

The recycled printer’s plate slotted storage box ceiling rose centrepiece of this flexible grand chandelier acts as the understated visual hub to the Chandelier Room.

Twenty-four large Edison style squirrel cage filament light bulbs are tethered to rusted brass catenary-forming chains hung from a space-spanning grid of ceiling hooks.

The glowing bulbs of this amorphous and organic sculptural network are envisaged as individual and connected ideas, insights, and inspiration depending on its configuration.

The loosely hung brass tendrils of this flexible multi-arrangement steampunk-esque illumination machine can be scattered haphazardly to fill the room randomly.

Or, they can be threaded purposefully and concentrated locally to highlight specific features or create a notional pathway throughout the space.

Depending on the nature of an exhibition or performance, bulbs can be grouped into one or more larger creative clusters that hang freely at any point in the space to form a compact, but nonetheless striking collection of idea clouds.

Martello Tower Y Defensible Coastal Creative Retreat, Suffolk.

An exemplary and unique conversion of this type of building.
— English Heritage

This award-winning conversion of a dilapidated Napoleonic sea defence tower into a contemporary home is highly respectful of both heritage and setting. A Scheduled Monument in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, it took a committed multi-disciplinary team to ensure that the design vision remained intact throughout two years of complex planning negotiations.

The existing fabric, geometry, and form were key design drivers. A new lightweight curving roof extension of steel and plywood, prefabricated off-site using computer generated cutting patterns, is lightly tethered to the existing structure and set back to minimise visual impact. A deep curved skirt of frameless glass floats between old and new and provides stunning 360-degree views of the coastal landscape.

Awards

  • RIBA Award 2010.

  • Winner AJ 40 Architects Under 40.

  • BD Architect of the Year Award 2014.

  • Refurbishment Architect of the Year Award, finalist.

  • RIBA Manser Medal 2010, finalist.

  • The Stephen Lawrence Prize 2010, finalist.

Source Piercy&Company website (formerly Piercy Conner).

Brechfa Spa Artist Studio Retreat, Brechfa, Wales.

The proposed building is envisaged as two pieces of slate supported by an existing dramatic woodland valley landscape. The slate pieces, at right angles to each other fit into the site contours and are eroded and stepped to create unique internal and external spaces each with their own individual aspect of the site.

Set above a stream the single storey building cantilevers from the embankment to engage the private spa and sauna with the tree canopy whilst still maintaining privacy from the main gardens of Brechfa House.

 

The double bedroom artist accommodation is nestled into the naturally rising landscape to the West of the site and adjacent to the exiting footpath. The lounge and dining are floor to ceiling glazed and enjoy spectacular views into the woodland valley to the South of the site.

The majority of the accommodation is South facing ensuring the dwelling receives the maximum natural daylight and warming available.

The entrance and artist accommodation create a framed passage around the existing footpath that leads its way across the site before disappearing into the woods.

Clad in dark burnt timber and glass atop a cascading concrete plinth the building represents a sensitive addition to the woodland garden landscape of Brechfa House.

The Fourth Kiosk Studio for Composer Harrison Birtwistle, Chester.

This composer’s studio space is perched at the bottom of a heavily wooded, gently cascading, riverside garden.

Music in motion and the geometry of sound were the inspiration for this cantilevered exposed glue-laminated timber fanned spiral structure with hanging step-way jetty.

Designed to accommodate a grand piano, contemplation space, and a single bedroom with basic amenities and facilities this striking orchestrated form connects and embraces the four worldly elements of water (movement, flow), earth (grounding, anchor), air (space, sound), and the creative fire of the composer’s musical passion.

Deep Reflections Sculpture @ Floating Man II, Thailand.


Crafted only with locally available palm branch (backbone, ribs, mandible), coconut seed petals (teeth, gills), and twine, this beach art sculpture depicts an ancient, washed-up, broken, fractured, and long-deceased skeletal Leviathan (mythical sea monster).

Cause of death unknown, we’re prompted, amidst the sixth mass extinction, that humanity has triggered with its plunder-for-profit relentless rape of the earth’s resources and inhabitants, to reflect deeply on who the monster of this environmental nightmare we are knowingly creating really is.

 

In just a few short weeks the remains of this once magnificent creature are washed away by the monsoon rains, tides, and waves crashing relentlessly onto the beach, and forgotten.

A strong visual reminder of life’s fragile and transient nature.

 

Educational Environments
Academies, Schools, Museums, and Visitor Centres.

Bezalel Academy of Arts, Jerusalem, Israel.

‘Let the mind be enlarged…to the grandeur of the mysteries, not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind.’ Francis Bacon

The Past Synchronisation
Site and Historical Connections

Studies of the brain and in particular the relationship between the left and right hemispheres has shown that Synchronisation (whole brain functioning, the ability to grasp the ‘bigger picture’) occurs by strengthening the ‘Corpus Callosum’ – the tissue connecting the logical and creative sides of the brain.

Focussed meditation is said to nurture good brain synchronisation and lead to a more fertile imagination and appreciation and understanding of the collective unconscious.

By careful site and historical analysis we propose to establish and maintain a strong connection between the two seemingly separate buildings proposed for the site despite the physical limitations imposed by the viewing corridor.

A planted and bridged fissure or crack within the public square serves as a physical reminder that the two buildings are indeed connected.

In addition, notional lines are drawn from local and global historical references to the site to create a focus, a point of contemplation in the public square.

To mark this point a mature existing tree from the site will be planted and watered by a ‘bouncing energy’ water fountain inspired by the historical reference lines.


The Present Waves
Creative Design

Our individual state of consciousness is determined by our brain wave frequencies. These frequencies range from Beta (alert and focussed) through to Delta (deep sleep).

Research suggests that experiencing time in the Delta brain wave pattern (whether conscious or unconscious) is a form of connection to the universe and a greater of understanding of life’s mysteries.

We propose to map these frequencies and wave forms to establish an exciting, dynamic and dramatic structural solution to produce a flexible building to house the complex programme of the Academy now and far into future.

The Future Energy
The Proposed Building Design Concept

The brain wave analogy and structural system provide a simple approach to the organisation of the building programme. Essentially each type of structural element houses within its frame a particular activity. For example the Beta Wave Structure reflects an alert and focussed state of consciousness which directly relates to the public and communal functions of the building.

Likewise the Theta Wave Structure reflecting an alert level of consciousness mixed with a feeling of drowsiness experienced during pre and light sleep leading us to vivid dreams and periods of intuition relates to the studio spaces where the students and teachers will be at their most creative.

The accommodation layers arrange themselves around the Alpha Wave Structure, an atrium and wide gallery circulation (perfect for critiques and mini-exhibitions). This flexible space is where all the inter-departmental communication will occur.

The Delta Wave Structure (deep sleep, meditation, connection to the universe) is essentially the external façade and structure. This structure provides shading for the building and also encloses external balconies and roof terraces – everyday places where students and teachers can connect with the universe by relaxation, meditation or prayer.

The overall project is conceptualised as energy particles moving around the ‘box of convention’, breaking free and occasionally making a quantum leap.

Metropolitan Infographic Cartography Museum, Mexico City.

Cartography or mapmaking is the study and practice of making maps or globes. The cartographic process rests on the premise that the world is measurable and that we can make reliable representations or models of that reality.

 

Mapmaking involves advanced skills and attitudes, particularly the use of symbols to represent certain geographic phenomena, as well as the ability to visualise the world in an abstract and scaled-down form.

 

Three factors, physical, social, and political affect our built environment, how we see, perceive, interpret, record, and map it. It’s these three factors that form the conceptual basis of this sensitive yet dramatic response to the competition brief.

 

The Time Tower Immigration Museum, New York.

Ripples Through Time

Memories and Connections. The proposed concept aims to symbolise the instinctive human urge for connection on a physical and spiritual level.

The Time Tower design explores dimensions of time and our memories in an attempt to engage and remind visitors and the wider public of the day to day issues facing immigrant residents throughout history.

Urban Consciousness

The proposal is a dynamic addition to the New York skyline and will through its iconic appearance remind us of New York’s unerring ability to embrace what has become known collectively as ‘Urban Consciousness’.

 

Flexible Exhibition Space

Double height flexible exhibition space suitable for permanent and temporary exhibition spaces. Visual connection between floors is by means of circular floor voids which maintain the feeling of connection with visitors and the exhibits. A range of spaces, large or small, open or closed, public or intimate can be accommodated in the flexible volumes.

The Ripple Garden

Memory ripples beyond into the New York City capturing solar energy, providing shade, shelter, meeting points. They act as a constant reminder of the museum and the immigrants that have come to call New York City their home.

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Gallery of Sound Music School, Museum, Theatre, Liverpool.

In music theory, the circle of fifths (or circle of fourths) is the relationship between the twelve tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys. The overarching site plan and design for the Gallery of Sound is derived from the circle of fifths. It is reflected conceptually in the intersecting and overlapping circles of the internal spaces and external hard and soft landscaping as well as the proposals overall massing and sculptural roof form.

Nest Wetland Nature Reserve Visitor Centre, Preston.

Crafted from found local materials a nest incubates growth and development, nurturing the young and facilitating rest, watch and protection. Taking these principles as a blueprint for the new Wetland & Woodland Nature Reserve Visitor Centre we want to create a ‘nest’ within the landscape inspired formally and functionally by the ingenious nest building of the Waders and Wetland Passerines that inhabit and create the landscape.

Different Dwellings
Living Experiments, Boutique Hotels, and Untimely Predictions.

East Village Olympic Running Man Facade, London.

Piercy&Company’s (formerly Piercy Conner) façade design wraps a residential block designed to provide accommodation for 268 Athletes during London’s 2012 Olympics. Generous classical proportions and refined art deco detailing produce a celebratory and commemorative façade fit for the Games.

Richly patterned, the design was inspired by The Running Man, Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic investigations into human movement. An abstracted linear pattern, strongly expressive of motion, was then cast into Portland concrete and picked out in contrasting glazed brick tiles.

The design remains appropriate for the high quality, post-Olympic legacy scheme of eight townhouses and 32 apartments, with the façade pattern used to identify the two opposing housing typologies. A human scale application of the technique features on the first three floors of the townhouses, while an enlarged glazed brick version marks the transition to apartments on the upper levels above the street.

Source Piercy&Company website (formerly Piercy Conner).

Kennington Park Road, Urban Living, London.

Interpreting The London Vernacular | The Power of Positive Planning

Despite the sensitive location and tight site this project received planning permission through delegated powers. Located on the outskirts of Kennington Park conservation area the design of this scheme emulates the rich roof forms of the adjacent period buildings in a contemporary interpretation of the local architecture. The carving of the main pitched blocks to the front and rear of the site produces a rhythmic vertical façade reminiscent of London’s terraces and the dark, high-pressure laminate cladding suggests richness, quality and substantiality.

Clifton Street Boutique Hotel, Shoreditch, London.

A 250 Bedroom Hotel with conference facilities and restaurant in the heart of Shoreditch. The hotel sits with in a Conservation Area, in which neighbouring historical buildings were analysed in terms of material, scale and grain. This process developed into a ‘DNA’ strategy – deconstructing the analysis and reinterpreting it into the façade. Massing was informed by both the neighbouring buildings and complex Rights of Light and historical deeds.

Design Considerations

  • Create an iconic, landmark design to increase value to potential operators and customers, and gain planning permission.

  • High quality rooms with unique aspect and views to street and City beyond.

  • Avoid repetition through facade patterning informed by surrounding conservation context.

  • Reduction of large scale building mass by facade and form articulation to an appropriate scale at pedestrian level.

  • Reduce impact of facade at higher levels.

  • Engage with streetscape and public realm.

  • Develop standard kit of parts facade construction to allow high quality architecture and design.

  • Create diversity from standard building components.

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Yotel Urban Hotel Concept Development for Yo!

‘Taking work out of the workplace is a redefinition of the relationships between work and home.’ Richard Conner

Simon Woodroffe of Yo Sushi approached Piercy Conner with his concept for small express hotel rooms with a programme similar to checking into a first class seat on an aeroplane.

Continuing research and development of city-living and working the Yotel concept is a simple extension of the nomadic working patterns of many businesses.

These patterns are driven by the preference for face-to-face interaction regardless of communication technology).

The Yotel sleeping pods are intended to provide advanced communication facilities and a crash-pad for the weary travelling business executive.

Piercy Conner’s initial focus was on the construction of the Yotel sleeping pods and the implications on building typology and use-class, structure, and facade. 

Microflat Microlife Live Installation, Selfridges, London.

Microlife was a living exhibition that aimed to demonstrate a viable inner city urban living solution for key-workers and young professionals. Microlife is all about dense urban living; a lifestyle that benefits from drastically reduced commuting times, vibrant city life, energy efficiency and affordability.

A fully functional Microflat was tested by Warren and Helene who lived in the Microflat prototype in Selfridges for 2 weeks.

 
‘Putting a Microflat in the Selfridges window was a PR idea bordering on genius.’
— Hugh Pearman, The Times

Results (January 2002)

Approximate PR value £2 Million (PR Week).
Over 90,000 website hits.
3,000 interested buyers registered.
22% registered are over 55.
2 schemes currently in negotiation with local authority.

 

Microflat Affordable Key Worker Inner City Living.

‘Research by the Social and Economic Research Council suggests that 60,000 key workers will leave the capital over the next 10 years – but all worker’s housing needs must be addressed, not just the needs of those in the essential or key services. It is forecast that 80% of the increase in households by 2016 will be in single-person households and that, by 2011, 40% of London’s households will comprise only one person.’

Capital Gains: Making high density housing work in London, London Housing Federation

High Density Urban Living

Microflats are small efficiently designed, environmentally friendly, high quality, compact dwellings that use boat design and new technology to provide intelligent living space.

Microflat Living is a continuation of ideas by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa in the late 1960’s.

Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower was responding to intense pressure on available land in Tokyo by providing compact beautifully designed living pods for young people and a crash pad for weary business executive commuters.

The success of London as the capital of Europe and number one destination for Britain’s young workers has put land in the capital under similar pressure.

 

Futopia 2096 The Future of Home 20th Anniversary Edition.

Futopia 2096 was my final thesis project. It was presented and submitted 20 years ago at the end of my 4th year at architecture school which was the first year of my post-graduate diploma in architecture at The Bartlett, University College London.

The project set by my tutors was to explore the concept of ‘HOME’. I decided to look to the future and envision how technology might marry with a more traditional model of luxury villa or mansion style suburban home ownership complete with separation, security and privacy while still establishing and maintaining a level of meaningful connection with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

At the time students would display drawings and models for their final presentation. However, having taken out a relatively huge student loan to buy an Apple Power Macintosh 8500 (the first Mac to have built-in video capture and export capabilities) I created a computer-generated (CG) animated film. I did not produce any drawings or physical models which were the norm to communicate architecture at that time. Presenting an architectural thesis project in this way was a first in the country and dare I say it probably the world.

Watch the video below.
Read more about the project here.

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If you have a Transformational Project you’d like to discuss please email Richard Conner to arrange a discovery session.