SPARK 2020 01/12: Art is the best route into Architecture

Later in this year of the rat SPARK will have been working in Asia for 20 years. To commemorate this amazing milestone we will over the next 12 months publish a number of our projects that have been instrumental in formulating what we do, how we did it and the values generated that have become SPARK’s DNA.

I guess this 12 month progression is an easy way to understand us and the ideas generated via the SPARK design process we use to avoid the “this is how we do it” pit-fall of repetition.

It used to be de rigeur to call this process “thinking outside the box” we now call it the “SPARK factor”. It revolves around an understanding of our clients and experience in the typologies we are best known for designing. A process of questioning: questioning the problem, questioning assumptions, and questioning the social and environmental implications of the project.

We try to reframe everything in a human-centric way, developing ideas and adopting practical approaches through our idea testing.

As a process it is a wonderful catalyst for change, discovery and evolution resulting hopefully in a clear communicable SPARK narrative.

Episode one of twelve  01/12

“Art is the best route into architecture”.

Single Family House by Stephen Pimbley, 1984

When I graduated at London’s  Royal College of Art in 1984 Colin Amery the Financial Times architecture critic bought 4 of my drawings and wrote a flattering piece about my work. He used the statement “art as the best route into architecture” referring to my background initially studying art and then after an internship at the modernist practice YRM selecting to study architecture.

Lennox Berkeley Warwick Avenue House Pen & Ink Drawing by Stephen Pimbley, 1982

I suppose you could say I owe my creative impetus to the punk rock fuelled permissive art school scene of the late 1970’s.

Stephen Pimbley, 1978

I am still guided by many of the principles that formed the basis of my art education bringing the paradigms of art to bear on the relatively conservative linear and commercially driven realm of real estate.

Projects illustrated here attempt to describe the reality of the project via SPARK’s particular graphic style that embraces humanity, fun and sensitivity.

Stephen Pimbley. January 2020

Head houses. Hyderabad, India.

Client: Aliens Group PLC

An extensive 1500 acre new private town outside Hyderabad that included an air-strip, golf course, commercial, business and education districts as well as extensive area of varying residential types from 200m tall point blocks to single family villas set within the rocky slopes of the valley. The “head houses” as they were known perch at the top of the valley taking advantage of the extraordinary views over the entire master plan.

Bird Island master plan. Kuala Lumpur.

Client: YTL Ltd

A master plan for a series of carbon neutral villas on Bird Island at Sentul West KL. The master plan was inspired by the colours of the tropical birds that visit the island. SPARK was also invited to design one of the villas, a tree house sitting on a counter-weighted stem to minimise its footprint.

Vision City Kuala Lumpur.

Client: Capitaland.

The transformation of an abandoned partially complete shopping mall into a sustainable naturally ventilated shopping mall centred around an activated terraced public space.

Gateway Project. Wollongong Australia.

Client: BRDB

3 medium-rise apartment buildings located between New South Wales’ beautiful Illawarra Escarpment and the South Pacific Ocean. The apartment buildings are arranged around a courtyard layered to moderate the topography of the site and resemble the Illawarra Escarpment’s rock formation. They are wrapped by a wave form solar panel trellis. All the apartments are naturally ventilated, the penthouse units have large balcony areas with view towards the ocean.