Director Peter Mance tells The Parliamentary Review that MAAPS Design & Architecture “crafts space”. Working across the UK and internationally, Peter and the team at MAAPS use colour, texture, light, ambience, material and memory to deliver innovative and specialist architecture and interior design solutions. Peter says their interior design work is often concerned with the conversion and “reinterpretation” of existing space, and that their architectural work is both a “physical and psychological” redefinition of the environment. He talks at greater length about MAAPS’ philosophy and former projects.
Article written for and published in The Parliamentary Review
12 MINUTE READ
When I am asked what we do, our provocative and mischievous reply is: “we help people reimagine space”. Rather than travelling down the path of explaining our functional role as architectural and interior designers, “reimaging space” opens up much more interesting discussions, allowing us to better demonstrate who we are and what we truly do.
” We tend to avoid the more conventional definitions of either of these roles, and in a provocative piece of mischief, we have found that it is more useful to say ‘we help people reimagine space’ “
The underlying values and ethos at the core of our creative endeavours are driven by a sense of generosity, responsibility and longevity. These values, coupled with our skills and experience, provide us with the right tools to help our clients achieve sustainable design and lifestyle solutions.
Occasionally, projects arise that call upon us to up-end the status quo and step outside convention – we delight in these – since they divine for growth; for alternate articulation. Two recent projects, the Club Quarters Lincoln’s Inn Fields Hotel and the Shishukunj International School, are cases in point. The lessons learned during these developments provide collaborative insights into our own creative processes which have enriched and refined our approach to subsequent projects.
Club Quarters Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Club Quarters approached us with the task of taking an unused basement storage space and converting it into a series of hotel guest rooms – a place of respite from the hustle and bustle of its central London location.
The most obvious challenge was that the rooms are windowless, yet in much the same way that the restriction of one sense allows the other senses to compensate, working on a windowless room demanded that we paid close attention to the tactile details and quality of the interior design in order to create a serene space.
To counter the typical guest room entrance of a narrow neck, these basement rooms open as a generous expansive space, with a London inspired colour palette. The bed is located away from the entrance and has a raised ceiling, so that as you move deeper into the space you feel as if it continues to open.
For the wall cladding panels and cabinetry within the room, we focused on crafting high-quality joinery to convey a sense of soothing sophistication. The mirror panel within the end wall of the room resembles the missing window, creating a vista beyond.
For us, this is an instance where embracing the apparent limitations allowed us to hone our design skills and gain beneficial insight into our own design and creative process. These are important and subtle lessons embedded in the team that we carry forward as foundation blocks for future projects.
Shishukunj International School
Shishukunj, a Sanskrit word meaning a “Garden of Children”, is a registered charity dedicated to advancement of children and the preservation of Gujarat culture. Our team have supported the charitable and development work of Shishukunj for many years in the UK, India and Africa.
The school is set within the beautiful semi-arid desert landscape of Kutch. While this is an active earthquake zone, historically it was also a location for health sanitoriums where people came to recover in the clear and clean atmosphere.
At the point we came to the project, the local architectural team had generated proposals concerned with fulfilling minimum room sizes, site security and marshalling pupil discipline. The scheme made no concession to the qualities of the site and did not incorporate strategies for sustainability. Furthermore, we learnt that the children and teachers had not been involved with the project.
We saw the opportunity to design a school that responded to this unique landscape, and we set out to design a school that the children would want to go to. When asked what they wanted, they replied, “We want a school in a forest.”
After five days of intense work with the consultant team, and embracing the ambitions of the children, we emerged with a new inclusive design. We developed a series of small-scale adaptable building modules and grouped these to provide connecting vistas across the site to the surrounding landscape, akin to a village, and that has an intimate sense of belonging within this special place.
Through the use of natural materials, traditional typologies, indigenous flora and local artisan building skills, the school campus is designed as a sustainable development within the natural ecosystem of Kutch.
” The project reminds us that buildings do not simply have to be functional enclosures – despite tough economic and environment constraints. “
Conceived as a series of cluster modules in response to both the landscape and teaching ethos of the school, the buildings are literally built from the rock and dust of the site. Passive solar design principles, utilising prevailing winds for natural cooling and the orientation of buildings for shading, and planned landscaping strategies are all deployed to take maximum advantage of the surrounding ecosystem and topography.
The project reminds us that buildings do not simply have to be functional enclosures – despite tough economic and environment constraints. At their best, they are interactive structures with emotive resonance used, animated and transformed by people. We have conceived an evolving set of architectural models that are an integral part of the school ethos and methods of education. We hope that they continue to nurture memories and learning.
Given the special qualities of this site, we felt duty bound to design a building that belonged in the landscape and served the needs of its users; to design a school that responsibly and sustainably exists harmoniously within its specific environment and benefits the local community.
Finally, the sustainable programme and capture of resources on site mean that we can now irrigate and bring life back to the surrounding landscape. More importantly, the birds have returned, and we are growing a forest.