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Architecture

3 resources to help you decide on an Architecture education

Architecture is a profession for the elegant, scientific and artistic ones. It requires more attributes to be successful that most other professions. At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding professions. As an architect, you get the chance to build something that would likely outlive you and endure the test of time.

Learning architecture is a long process and hence requires absolute certainty from your side that it is what you want to do. If you want to be a professional architect designing skyscrapers, mansions or exotic buildings, you have to go through academic degrees, Masters and possible even Doctorates. Before exhausting all your resources, both financial and temporal, into formal education, you may want to assess if it is worth taking the effort.

To help you decide that, we want to let you know a few resources and tools that you can utilize to learn about basic architecture. Once you finish those resources, you would have a better idea of how much you want to take it forward.

Harvard’s architecture online course

ArchDaily

The Harvard Graduate School of Design has started an online course on basic architecture that gives you an idea of how to perceive and assess different kinds of architecture, at both a cultural and technical level. Harvard’s online course is in line with the recent trend of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) which has gathered momentum. It is free of cost.

UNSW online course

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The University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers an online course in Coursera that is focused on modern cities. The key focus of the course is to address the challenge of making the cities of the future livable, sustainable and environment-friendly despite growing worries of population explosion. It is free of cost.

International Career Institute (ICI)

YouTube

The ICI here in the United Kingdom provides a 6 month short-term course on interior design and decoration, for those of you who are keen on pursuing that field. While this is not free, it is reasonably priced at EUR 910. Furthermore, that amount can be paid in minute monthly installments. The course is designed in such a way as to adapt to the pace of each individual student.

These are our favorites from amongst the thousands of online resources available. We recommend you to check you EdX and Coursera, which are the primary websites for MOOCs. YouTube has also some great short clipped tutorials.

Interior design

Staircases and the ancient philosophies of Feng Shui and Vatsu Shastra

Weirdly shaped staircases fascinate a lot of us for some reason. I, for one, am a big fan of spiral stairs. I was probably the only one fascinated and enthusiastic climbing the massive spiraling staircase when a group of us visited the Fernandeschi’s dome in Florence, Italy.

Staircases come in different shapes and forms. You have you traditional straight staircase, the spiral, the u-shaped staircase, the quarter layout, and so on. When the design of a house is planned, they are normally secondary when it comes to placement. The complement the different internal areas of a house.

While architecture and careful planning is essential, there are some who follow other philosophies when it comes to this. We refer to Feng Shui, the popular Chinese philosophy that focusses distribution of positive energy as a result of placement of different items around us, and Vastu Shastra, the Indian astrological and architectural science dating back centuries.

While we at Design of homes don’t confer to any such philosophy or way of thinking, we are interested to find out the drivers behind decisions people take when it comes to their households. So we decided to look into what these two schools of thought mention about the placement of staircases.

Feng Shui

With Feng Shui, it is all about the energy you perceive from an object. Naturally, “positive” objects such as the living room or kitchen have positive feng shui, whereas “negative” objects such as the toilet transmit negative feng shui. The staircase is somewhere close to the toilet, although not as worse.

As a result, its placement is not recommended in central places or more frequented areas. These would include, say the center of the home or adjoined to the front door or main entrance. Certain directions such as east and southwest is also discouraged, as these directions symbolize health and love respectively. So we guess any other areas of the house work.

Vastu Shastra

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Interestingly enough, staircases are considered divine in Vastu Shastra. They symbolize movement from a lower level to a higher level. There are directional constraints as well, for example the stairs should always start from north to south or from east to west.

There are a lot more rules involved in this philosophy, and to the outside mind it comes across as superstitious. Nevertheless, it is fervently followed by many people in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

These philosophies may seem trivial to you, but take into account that many homebuyers and/or tenants have certain belief systems that they constantly adhere to. Knowing these schools of thought is always beneficial.

Cleaning

Why Office Cleaning is Important and How to Find the Right Company

When it comes to employing the services of a professional, we want to ensure that we’re making the right choice. Although it would be easy to assume that any cleaning company is able to contend with all forms of commercial cleaning, there are some factors that need to be considered beforehand.

Like any other professional service, commercial cleaning is a cost to the business, and if it’s not being carried out in the right way, then we may find that the company ends up spending more than it needs to when hiring the services of a professional cleaning company.

Fortunately, there are ways of ensuring that the right choice is being made when looking for a commercial office cleaning company in Stirling.

Why Is Hygiene in an Office Environment Important?

It would be easy to assume that commercial cleaning within an office environment isn’t important when compared to other businesses, such as a dentists or doctor’s surgery, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Regardless of how large the office is, there is always the potential of bacteria and viruses being present, even within the keyboards that people use on a daily basis. Although there is no way of stopping these bacteria from occurring, there is a way of ensuring that it doesn’t go on to impact those who are working in the office, and this is via the use of professional office cleaning.

While the concept of cleaning may seem straightforward to some, only a professional cleaning company will know how to clean an office thoroughly, thus lowering potential illnesses.

Not only does this ensure the right manpower is in place, but also helps promote more productivity, simply due to the environment being cleaner.

Woman working, professional maid cleaning and washing floor with machinery in industrial building

Choosing the Right Cleaning Company

Although the majority of cleaning companies will be reputable, there will be those that aren’t up to the task in hand. A few simple checks will ensure that the cleaning company you plan to use is not only professional, but also reliable.

Check Online Reviews

Any company that can offer a reliable and professional cleaning service will be keen to promote their achievements, but this isn’t to say that every company is able to live up to its claims. As such, a business should take a few minutes to peruse the online reviews so that they can ensure that it’s hiring the right company for office cleaning.

There are several platforms that you can check, such as Facebook and Google Business. However, if you’re not able to find any reviews that relate to the cleaning company you wish to use, you should contact the cleaning company direct. Those with positive reviews will be happy to share past customer experiences and testimonials.

Ensure the Company is Insured

When it comes to professional cleaning, it’s easy to assume that insurance isn’t necessary due to the nature of the business. However, there will be times when accidents or injuries can occur, and if there’s no insurances in place, then it will be difficult to rectify the issue.

Public liability insurance is a must for any cleaning company, regardless of whether the business employs one person or several. If the company you plan to use doesn’t have this insurance in place, then it may be worthwhile looking elsewhere for a cleaning company.

What Hours Does the Company Operate?

Some businesses may operate to set hours, whereas others may be a 24-hour operation. As such, there can be times when cleaners will have to access the business at different hours.

When looking for a commercial cleaning company, it’s important to ensure that its able to provide you with a service that doesn’t interfere with your business.

If you’re unsure of what hours the proposed cleaning company offers, it’s advisable to contact the company to check that its able to meet your requirements in relation to working hours.

Is There Quality Control in Place?

The reason why many businesses choose a cleaning company is because its experience in cleaning offices. This means that the cleaning is carried out promptly, while ensuring the work being carried out is through.

If you choose a company that isn’t as thorough as it should be, you could find that you’re handing money over for no reason.

A professional company will understand the importance of work being carried out properly and will ensure this is achieved by having a quality control protocol in place.

Even the most professional of cleaners can forget a task, but a company that instils quality control means that the likelihood of this happening is rare.

What Equipment and Products Will the Company Use?

It’s easy to assume that every cleaning company takes the same approach to commercial cleaning, but some may be limited in the service they offer.

There will be times when a preferred cleaning method is used, especially businesses that are keen to adopt a eco-friendly culture.

Of course, in some instance there can be limitations, but ensuring you’re using a company that has several years’ experience in commercial cleaning ensures the company is able to adopt the right approach in every instance.

Don’t Focus on the Price Alone

When looking for a commercial cleaning company, it stands to reason that a business wants to find a great deal, but this doesn’t mean it should use an inferior company in a bid to save money.

Although a cheap price can be alluring, in many instances you may be receiving a lacklustre service or find that inferior cleaning products are being used. This may not always be the case, but its something that should be investigated before employing the services of a commercial cleaning company.

The majority of commercial cleaning companies will strive to deliver a professional service, but this doesn’t mean you should let your guard down when making a decision. Taking some time to consider a couple of factors could make all the difference as to how professional the cleaning company you use is. i

Heating & Lighting

Considerations to Make When Purchasing a Multi-Fuel or Wood Burning Stove

There can be several reasons as to why people choose a multi-fuel burning stove. Some may want to reduce their heating bill, whereas others may want to create a focal point in the room of their choice.

However, when choosing a multi-fuel burning stove, it’s important that we use the right company, otherwise the stove we choose could fail to provide the experience we’re looking for, or in more serious instances, could prove to be dangerous.

Fortunately, there are a series of tips you can take to ensure that the stove you choose is safe to use, while not looking out of pace within the home.

What Kind of Fuel Do You Want to Use?

Although many will want to use the eco-friendliest fuel when it comes to their stove, it’s important to factor in what kind of fuel you can source locally. For example, if you choose a wood burning stove installer in Perth, then you need to ensure that sourcing a fuel locally isn’t going to be a hassle.

Multi-fuel stove allows for more choice when it comes to the fuel you use, but some fuel can be less eco-friendly than others. As such, it’s important to look at what type of fuel you would like to use, and then ascertain how easy it is to purchase the fuel.

While it’s admirable to choose a fuel that has less impact on the environment, it’s a pointless endeavour if you’re not able to purchase the fuel easily.

How Much Space Do You Have to Store Fuel?

Unlike conventional gas and electric, the use of a multi-fuel stove will require the use of physical fuel, which means storage needs to be a strong consideration begin having a stove installed.

The fuel doesn’t have to be stored within the vicinity of the stove, but you need to ensure that the storage area is dry, and not going to cause any accidents.

This may not be an issue for some, but those looking to install a multi-fuel burning stove into smaller premises may need to make some checks before deciding on a stove.

Complying with Building Regulations

Many will assume that they’re free to install a stove wherever they want, but it’s important to ensure that the company who installs the stove is able to conform to UK building regulations.

For example, there are regulation as to how a flue should be fitted, as well as the size of the hearth. This is another reason why it’s important to ensure that you’re only using a professional when it comes to installing your stove.

If you’re unsure of what type of stove will suit your property best, then it’s advisable to speak to the company before the stove installation goes ahead.

Ensuring Your Stove is Energy Efficient

Building regulations current state that the multi-fuel and wood burning stoves have an efficiency rating of 67 percent. Fortunately, most stoves will have a rating between 60 and 8o percent, but this is set to change moving forward.

The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) is currently working with manufacturers to ensure that the minimum efficiency is 80 percent, which will be a legal requirement by 2022.

Again, this reinforces the importance of choosing the right stove, as well as the right installation method. Using the right company will not only ensure that current regulations are met but will ensure that you’re not having to upgrade your stove in a couple of years.

Choosing the Right Company for Installation

When purchasing a wood burning stove, it’s important that the tight professional is used. It can be tempting to choose a company that offers the cheapest quotes, but it’s important that we’re no influence by the price alone.

Although there’s nothing wrong with finding a great deal, this doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the quality of the installation, not your safety.

When choosing a stove, there will be plenty of options available, but if it’s not fitted in the right way, you’ll find that the result isn’t quite what you were looking for.

Taking the time to carry out some research will mean that you’re not left in the position of waiting several weeks waiting for an installation or putting up with lacklustre workmanship.

There are several ways of checking the company you’re using is up to the job, such as reviews on business directories and social media sites.

Those who can’t find any information online can approach the company directly and ask them to supply customer testimonials. Those who have an unblemished record in relation to stove installation with have little issue in supply you with testimonials and feedback.

Other Considerations to Factor

When choosing a stove, there are some other factors that need to be considered to ensure that you’re choosing a fuel-burning stove that suits your needs.

In some instances, it could transpire that the stove you purchase has a high output, which means that the stove will need to be ran at a lower temperature, which can make it less efficient.

When speaking to an installer, it often helps to have some information to hand in relation to your property to ensure the right solution is put in place.

Such information can include the size of the room, whether there is double glazing present as well as the age of the property.

Although there several factors to consider when purchasing a multi-fuel or wood-burning stove, the end result doesn’t only save you money in relation to fuel bills but ensures that you’re able to enjoy the rustic and cost atmosphere a stove is able to provide.

 

 

Interior design

5 pros and cons of open spaces in housing design

Home architecture has changed over the years substantially. As per the old school of thought, the focus was on compartmentalization. Each room in a house needed to be separate from the others. Each room had a purpose, and was to be used solely for that purpose.

Today things seem to be different. The idea of compartmentalization has slowly faded, and has been replaced by the concept of multi-purpose areas. Perhaps it is a consequence of life having become extremely fast paced such that people barely find time to move about, cook a proper meal or take a long relaxing bath. Or perhaps it is because the idea that specific compartments isolate people living in a house.

Either way, this change in thought has led to the popularization of what is called open space. Open space flats, as the term suggests, mean a common space for the internal parts of the house such as the kitchen, living area and dining area. There are limited partitions and these areas are basically public spaces. There are pros and cons to this kind of layout, which we list below.

Connected space

Open space flats naturally make your apartment look bigger. This makes sense especially if you live in a relatively small flat with tiny rooms. It is also easy to move about, especially between the kitchen and dining area.

Social aspect

Open spaces enable more interactions within a household. When you have guests occasionally, such spaces make you feel more comfortable. Families with kids can watch over their kids as they move about the house.

Customization

Have a large open space also enables you to customize what items you want in each part of the space. If you have sufficient space between the living room and dining room, for example, you could perhaps set up a mini-gymnasium or a musical instrument to practice your music.

Artistic improvement

Everyone wants their house to be on full display when guests come. With an open space, it is easier to arrange works of art to decorate the house. If you are an enthusiast, you can even arrange a collection of artworks with the comfort of space or make some pop-art works of your own.

Privacy

We see only one major con of open space, i.e. the absence of privacy. Privacy is important to each individual, and as a result we don’t recommend open spaces for a household of more than 3 inhabitants.

While you’re designing, check out our post on soundproofing. In a fully open space, soundproofing could be useful. http://www.designofhomes.co.uk/010-the-problem-of-noise.html

Housing Interior design

Why housing standards for home space and design need to be effective

Housing space standards have always been an issue of debate here in the UK. Ever since the Parker Morris standards disappeared and conservative government made public its dim view on housing development, Britain’s homes seem to be getting smaller and crampier. If you want to know what Parker Morris standard is, check out our post at http://www.designofhomes.co.uk/024-more-on-parker-morris-standards.html

The recent National space standards don’t seem to be helping the matter.  The NDSS has been obscured by its complexity and its reluctance to exercise regulations on local authorities. One key instance of this is the exact definition of minimum space for different rooms such a single bedrooms, double rooms etc. These vary largely across the different counties and provinces.

Additionally, the government has publicly prioritized building more houses over space standards. The key concern is price and affordability. Increasing the size of homes increases its price and therefore prices it out of reach of the common man. This has been the key reasoning behind the lack of prioritization of a common national standard

With many homeowners and tenants facing space constraints, the issue of housing design naturally comes up. With space constraint constant being pointed out, there is an argument that it is all just perception. The ones who complain just don’t make efficient use of their space. While there may be a small element of fairness to this argument, it is largely incorrect.

As much as you can exploit the availability of space, there is a limit to it. The UK has the smallest houses in all of Western Europe. I personally believe that along with a bulletproof national space standard, there should be a minimum threshold for design standard too. While the homeowner should not his or her flexibility to design the house as he deems fit, having a basic design standard will ensure that realtors and builders don’t exploit the excess demand for housing.

Design standards can include things such as a minimum number of toilets per inhabitants in a house, kitchen size and proximity to other rooms, effective exhaust systems, ventilation etc. The NDSS does include a lot of details, but those are either confusing or improperly implemented.

In short, this is not about freedom of expression or lack thereof. This is about creating a system that doesn’t allow realtors to play the price game and build properties with very little in the form of constraints.

Architecture Housing

4 awesome award-winning housing projects in the UK

Modern housing in the UK isn’t really considered among the finest in Europe, to put it gently. When we picture housing developments, we picture cramped houses, narrow streets and bland architecture. It is quite surprising for a country whose Victorian style architecture is considered one of the most elegant architecture by the rest of the world.

The ever expanding population, increase in subletting and conversion of areas such as attics into makeshift rooms to aid the increased need for accommodation all contribute to this cause. However there have been some exceptions in this regard. We look at a few housing projects that were recently acclaimed.

Claredale street, Tower Hamlets, East London

Cornerstone

Claredale street in East London is probably not the first name that you think of when you think of a futuristic and technological neighborhood. And yet, it was awarded the Richard Feilden Award at the HCA Housing Design awards in 2010. This area underwent an urban redesign to bring in concepts such as a mini-neighborhood with urban courtyards, high-efficiency gas boilers and a unique brick layout that conveyed a perception of handicraft. Furthermore, all roofs in the area are fitted with solar panels!

Darbishire Place, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets

Peabody

Tower Hamlets was at it again, mainly thanks to the consistent involvement of the Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, this time with Darbishire place. The same concepts of urban courtyards, open corners, pedestrian friendly streets and solar panels was utilized here too. The project received the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award in 2015.

Matlock, Derbyshire

derbyshireholidaycottage.com

Matlock, Derbyshire, was the winner of the 2015 housing design awards. It was quite a surprising choice as the neighborhood was built on what used to be a hotel carpark. It underwent a complete makeover with buildings built with steel structures and supporting Birchover gritstone, a material that has long-lasting properties. Check out the copper-clad penthouses, which are exquisite!

Great Kneighton, Cambridge

fotohaus

This is our favorite of the four. Certain buildings in Great Kneighton long almost hipster-style. The architectural style doesn’t really seem to follow any traditional styles. What catches the eye is the saw-tooth shape of houses and the use of black weatherboarding. The only catch is that the majority of the houses in the newly refurbished area is perhaps beyond the reach of the average home buyer.

With such housing projects leading the trend, we foresee a bright future for housing development in the UK. All we need is a strong supportive legislation to increase spending and better the quality of life.

Housing

Why the Parker Morris public housing standard should be revisited

Public housing is always a tedious matter. While the aim of all governments should be to make public housing affordable for their respective citizens, there is also the matter of quality of living. As global population is surging on and on, and with land resources limited, it is vital that the issue of public housing is modified and perfected from time to time.

The Architects’ Journal

In the UK, the Parker Morris standards came into effect in 1961 with the intention of defining minimum standard for housing space when it comes to public housing. Multiple categories were addressed by the Parker Morris committee, such as minimum square meter space requirements for different sizes of households, minimum toilet and plumbing standards, kitchen space, temperature control and ventilation. They were initially a set of recommendations and later made mandatory in 1967.

Even today, the Parker Morris standard remains one of the best internal space related standard internationally. It took into account all key criteria that affects quality of life and household safety, whilst not trampling on individual freedom and flexibility to design their own houses. Beyond benchmarks for minimum space requirements, the standard did not feel the need to add more regulation to housing construction and design.

However, as spending increased over the years and public housing expenditure shot up, the government in 1980 decided to remove the mandatory clause on the regulation. Fast forwarding to today, we see the visible effects of the lack of an adequate replacement to the standard. Apartments are increasingly smaller and people have a clear lack of space. London, especially, is full of cramped apartments not suitable for living.

While the UK has an equally able regulation in the NDSS today, there are certain constraints with it. The NDSS is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic as it address too many issues and delivers little. Under the NDSS, local authorities have do de feasibility studies and create a wider framework to solve a very visible and obvious problem. It is also optional rather than mandatory for local authorities.

Let’s face it. No system is perfect. Regulations are always a reactionary measure and never proactive, and as a result don’t address all problems and sometimes introduce complications. The Parker Morris standard was one of the regulations that was designed such that it included very few unnecessary constraints and solved the key need at the time. It would be wise to revisit it.

Architecture

Why Palladio and Le Corbusier remain architectural geniuses

Architecture has been a sign of wealth, progress and prosperity. The world has seen many great architects over the years. Names as Buckminster Fuller, Antoni Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright are cherished even today, and their works remain a symbol of the ages. Great architectural masterpieces have survived the ravages of time and every bloody wars.

These jewels of architecture have a lot of lessons to teach us. In this post we look at two inspiring architects, Andrea Palladio and Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, or as he was commonly known, Le Corbusier. These two figures are remembered for two entirely different styles of architecture.

Palladio is the face of Venetian architecture. He symbolizes the old Roman-Greek style buildings and palaces. The Palladian architecture has some key commonalities, such as the organization of space and geometric balance. Whether you look at his Villa Rotonda or the San Giorgio Maggiore, all parts of the structure have a perfect geometric ratio with all other parts.

The Art Post Blog

Interior designers so often talk about the importance of meticulous planning of space, and Palladio has a lot to teach us on that regard. While both the Rotonda and the San Giorgio Maggiore were entirely different places, the former a luxurious villa for the wealthy built to showcase luxury and power, and the latter a cathedral built as a haven of tranquility and meditation, the attention to mathematics has not been ignored.

Le Corbusier meanwhile pioneered the Modern architectural movement.  His main works included the Notre Dame du Haut and the La Maison Blanche. Le Corbusier was a man dedicated to creatively and uniqueness. He was responsible for two of today’s architectural commonalities – Walls that are free from their function of providing structural support and flat roofs. Furthermore, he pioneered the placement of unusual structures such as planes and boats within his works.

magazine.solvia.es

There are many more lessons to be learnt from these two geniuses on how they approached their works. While their principles and concepts may not be applicable to all, their sustained legacy has ensured that their concepts have been applied to many modern structures.

Interior design

3 soundproofing solutions for your home to reduce noise pollution

I live in Clerkenwell, one of the suburbs of London. Amongst the many civil issues we face at my parts, noise is one of the more pressing ones. We have a lot of young families in our neighborhood and the sight of children shouting and screaming is quite normal. More importantly, the walls in houses are quite thin and don’t do a good job of blocking noise.

This is an issue that many people face. Especially when it comes to apartments in crowded metropolitan cities, walls are very badly soundproofed and life gets difficult. A lot of properties in such areas, especially in the UK and in part of Europe, are older properties with walls that are unable to properly absorb the sound waves.

It is important at first to understand the mechanics of sound. Sound is a wave that travels through solid objects much faster (15 times to be specific) than through air. In this regard, it is different to light. The way to effectively stop noise pollution is not a one-step process. It involves multiple precautions, some of which we have listed in this post.

Avoid wall-mounted entertainment systems

Televisions or your Apple TV look better when mounted on a wall. That’s true. However that is one of the main reasons of excessive noise. If your bedroom is adjoint to a wall-mounted TV, you are going to have a rough sleep. As the noise source is directly joined to the wall, the sound waves travel much faster through the solid wall.

Use absorbing materials

Sound absorbers or dampeners are a great way to reduce noise pollution as they stop the passage of sound waves. Basically they are rubbery materials or vinyl that have excellent physical properties when dealing with sound.

Sound-blocking doors

Acoustical Surfaces

This can be done in multiple ways. You can either buy such doors and replace your existing ones, or try weather-stripping your doors. Weather stripping uses an insulating kit to soundproof your door. Ensure also that you have hinged doors as opposed to sliding, as they close better.