We developed our RE:LOW project last year and we have been busy embedding it into our practice. Here is a summary of what it is and how it evolved.
When we looked at our practice structure (UK Ltd.) we wondered whether there was an alternative that was more compatible to fit how we actually operated. As a result we are becoming BCorp certified. Part of the BCorp journey is to develop a Mission Statement. To do this we reviewed our work over the last 6 years. Our Mission Statement: ‘RE:LOW’.
Becoming a BCorp requires a lengthy and rigorous assessment of companies policies and operation focused around the environmental and the social ways it operates. This has led us to this;
How do we think, design and specify?
This has been developed a set of ‘Guiding Principles’;
- → A focus on sustainable, imaginative development for our age
- → Not just a bolt-on technical sustainability
- → Using our creativity and imagination to maximise sites and buildings
The development of RE:LOW.
We plotted all of our projects and their scale on a timeline, see opposite.
We realised that with existing buildings we tried to retain as much of the existing fabric as we could; we hate waste and we like the character and ‘soul’ of revealing existing parts of a structure. When we designing new buildings our focus was on the orientation, the path of the sunlight, the potential for natural ventilation, the absence of unnecessary finishes such as paint, plasterboard and high-energy finishes.
The word RE:LOW was dully coined to encapsulate both new and existing buildings, and to represent how we approach them.
RE stands for;
Low stands for;
Examples of when these principles have occurred in our work over the years;
- A warehouse to a nursery
- A townhouse to an office
- A loading bay to a dining room
- A roofspace plantroom to a workspace
- A bin store to a gallery
- Fireplaces from off-cuts
- Carpets from fishing nets
- Walls from paper pulp
- Kitchens from old curtains
- Marble off-cuts into bathroom tiles
- Old floorboards into new floor finishes
- Structural boards into bar counters
- Blockwork into wall finish
- Maximising thermal mass
- Utilise the sun
- Long lasting materials
- Simple, lean structural solutions
- Complex building assemblies
- No gas boilers
- Passivehaus principles
- Low distance sourcing
- Less chemicals
- Less plastic
- Hard wearing natural materials
- Less paint (if it’s painted it’s a natural paint)
- Avoiding plasterboard
- Avoiding weird chemical ingredients
RE:LOW is not just about retrofit, it is not just about new build; both are part of our practice. RE:LOW is a way of thinking about projects and communicating projects to our staff, clients and collaborators.
It feels great after 6 years of Studioshaw that we can establish clear principles to guide what we do as Architects. RE:LOW will guide our practice into the future and will be sharing updates here so watch this space! Get in touch if you have any questions about RE: LOW or would like a conversation about it – our door is always open.