Pragmatism in the process of design, helps us to better appreciate the experience of occupying spaces once they're finally finished.
In architecture, there’s often a distance between the act of constructing what has been designed. Maybe it’s why there’s sometimes a jovial tension between the architects and professionals involved in actually constructing the design.
No matter the skill level, building things ourselves prompts us to think about the nuance embedded in spaces and objects through the process of their making and assembly.
In practising this idea that the act of making should be more involved with processes of design, Pensaer architects have designed and constructed the bar at the Livesey Exchange 02 in Southwark London using reclaimed materials from building sites.
Using reclaimed materials to make the bar, waste timber was collected from active construction sites in the area. Within days it was possible to salvage more than enough good quality timber from the project with contractors wanting to donate more than was possible to store.
As architects we see so much material in good condition that’s simply thrown away, however, there is a lack of sufficient systems to salvage and reclaim these materials efficiently. The making of the bar was also to explore the viability of localized circular economies, what became evidently clear was that there was more than enough being thrown away even within a small radius to sustain a network of exchange and reuse.
The bar at Livesey may not be quite what you first imagine when you think of ‘reclaimed materials’, From the onset of the project, the intent of the design was to make something that felt polished and refined even though the materials used were not new, aiming to go beyond the slighlty rough aesthetic typically associated with upcycling and reuse.
Through the design stages, we were able to devise a step-by-step guide for constructing and arranging modular components, leaving tolerance for the imperfections of the materials reclaimed.
Responding to the existing materiality of the building we referenced the colour which allows the bar to seamlessly fit into the space while acting as a focal point of the room.
In working with reclaimed materials there’s inevitably a level of adaptation and improvisation in making the design fit around what is accessible.
Keen for the bar to be animated and fun, it acts as a canvas on which the members of the community can engage with. Cork panels in between the fins on the front of the bar allow users to ‘post’ events, shout outs or promote anything that might be happening in the local area.
The bar at Livesey is the first instalment of Pensaer's ongoing project at the Livesey Exchange. Over the coming years, Pensaers workshop at LEX 01 will continue to produce more interventions in the area while establishing a more formal circular economy using materials from around Old Kent Road.