A TMA1402 Final Reflective

So what can I say about this module, what should I say, what is prudent to say?


Here’s a nice post:


and with that out the way I suppose we should get on with the not so positive post…


Let me start by saying that this is the most amazing exercise in futility and time wasting I have experienced in four and a half years at Huddersfield university. At least in other collaborations the topics were relevant to the course. So let’s see if we can work out the point to this module. 


From the brief we had to form a collective with a range of skills, decide how the business works and is set up and work ethically to investigate the health and wellbeing properties of materials, their affects on lights and sound, how they look and feel and how these affect our emotions and promote creativity and health. From this we had to develop plans for a biophilic working or leisure environment.


Why? Other than to generate ideas for a company that we’ll never be paid for I see very little benefit to this project. If anyone has made it to an MA without some experience of working with others collaboratively or even better in a real job in the real world I’d be very surprised and that is what this felt like. A make-work activity with a nod towards giving students some semblance of work experience. It is meant to help us learn about group processes and collaborative working but I can honestly say there was nothing new here. In a collaborative group with a set project of interior design their is little motivation to do more than the minimum. A range of briefs to choose from may have alleviated this a little.


As in all groups some work harder than others and there are always outside influences pulling us away from the uninspiring work, so there were times when tensions arose within the group, but through a bit of simple communication these were sorted. We decided early on not to assign job roles and instead chose tasks and put our names to them which on the whole worked.


My next gripe, as I think I mentioned in a previous post, was with the very concept of biophilic design. At the time I called it a distinction without difference and weeks on this still strikes me as all that biophilic design is. A marketing gimmick to sell what all good interior designers and architects do anyway with a few extra plants thrown in for good measure. Beautiful, light, acoustically sound environments don’t need the biophilic tag, they are already doing it and anyone with a slight awareness of mans impact on the environment, the anthropocene, will try to work in an environmentally sympathetic way.


The one good part of this module, and the reason I chose it, was the sessions with the BBC. Their knowledge and advice was exceptional and something that I can take with me but unfortunately it does not make up for the failings of this module. In future, I’d like to see this module scrapped and just have the BBC as general guests. 


So in summary, it’s a pointless module but we’ve gotten on with it anyway and done the work. Sometimes that’s all you can do. 

It’s the Final Pitch!

The day arrived once again with a flurry of final prep the day before getting all the slides organised and running through the presentation. This time was slightly easier as all the prep work had been done and the team were all here. We’d got the order down and even convinced Jade to talk a bit (which she did well). There is a part of me that relishes talking to groups so I was eager to go and enjoying pre-talk adrenaline nerves. 


This time we got to do the presentation in the Researcher Hub which is laid out like a large courtroom (M’lord) and the acoustics are great. I couldn’t help glancing round and thinking “I know what those dangling things are on the ceiling and the shapes on the walls are for”. Who knew research learns you stuff?!


The presentation went well and the feedback was fairly favourable although we did go over the allotted 15 minutes, but just slightly, and for once it wasn’t me that was talking too much. I’m even slightly looking forward to the grade for this part.


For Friday we have to submit this is a pdf and I seem to have volunteered to make sure all the referencing is correct. Will I ever learn not to volunteer?

A place to call my own

In a world of hot-desking one of the major complaints from users of the DOYYEC was a lack of anywhere to store things. Fine if your work involves sitting in front of a screen but not so good if you have a lot of equipment or samples.


So with that in mind I started looking for storage solutions that would fit with our designs for the DOYYEC. In this case I wanted the storage to be adaptable, acoustically absorbing, well designed and moveable. 


The best supplier seems to be a Scandinavian company called Glimakra based in Stockholm. They have released a line of office storage units which are covered in sound absorbing materials and they are in a variety of sizes and shaped and can be moved and used together. This is an almost perfect match to our requirements. Here are some of the examples I found:

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 19.59.35 Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 19.59.23 Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 19.58.59 Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 19.58.39 (1)


The only thing I’d add would be a touch of colour.


The last thing I considered including would be a couple of architect plans chests for storing photographs and artworks.


  1. Dezeen,. (2017). Soft storage. Retrieved from https://www.dezeen.com/2015/02/10/johan-kauppi-bertil-harstrom-sound-absorbing-office-furniture-sabine-glimakra-stockholm-2015/

Sounds about right

One of the areas I chose to look into for the DOYYEC was sound as that was always one of the things that got to me with the space. It felt so quiet at times that it was oppressive and at other times when it was full it could be overbearingly loud. Humans feel comfortable with an ambient noise level of around 50 decibels and so this needs to be factored into a new design. Less than that and people can feel uncomfortable and isolated or inhibited in breaking the silence. More than that and it’s hard to focus or follow a conversation.


To control this then we need to control the acoustics of the space with the use of speakers for when the room is fairly empty and sound absorbing materials and baffles for when it’s full. That brings us to part of acoustics which can be overlooked: reverberation. The DOYYEC has many large smooth surfaces and this can make the sound bounce around a lot which can be distracting to people holding conversations. This can be combated using materials to break how the sound would normally bounce.



This is a nice example of how large surfaces can be covered to control sound and bring in some vibrant colour.


As I mentioned above speakers can be used to stop the area getting quiet but any that are used need to be controllable locally and I have been looking at the use of sound bars and domes such as you see in restaurants and museums. 


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Above are two examples of directional speakers supplied by Brown Innovations and the use of these could transform the way a space sounds. The only big surface I not covered, if you’ll excuse the pun, is the ceiling. In the DOYYEC this is one massive, smooth surface so something to look at would be the use of baffles on the ceiling, and these can be quite decorative:



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Like this one from Resonics



  1. Brown Innovations,. (2017). Domes and soundbars in location. Retrieved from http://www.browninnovations.com/
  2. Resonics,. (2017). Room with ceiling baffles. Retrieved from http://resonics.co.uk/acoustic-products-projects/texaa-abso/

Sounds about light

For a photographer you’d probably expect me to have a lot to say about light, but I really don’t. All I’d want for the DOYYEC would be control of the lighting in zones, daylight balanced bulbs and blinds to control the amount of light coming in from the windows. 


In our interview with Phil he did raise concerns over the harshness of the light in the pod so we would look at diffusers but the main requirement for the space is plenty of light with control over where from and how much.


The idea of broad-spectrum lighting was raised but looking at the evidence for this and the potential for long term damage to coverings and art works it was decided to avoid this. (1)



  1. How valid are the claims regarding full-spectrum light sources? | Full-Spectrum Light Sources | Lighting Answers | NLPIP. (2017). Lrc.rpi.edu. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/nlpip/lightinganswers/fullspectrum/claims.asp

Feedback the 2nd with Jo

Once again it was good to catch up with the team and do a bit of planning before meeting with Jo. Everything seems to be coming together well for the presentation and real progress is being made with getting feedback from the DOYYEC users. Some of the team have been in the DOYYEC talking to the people there, an online questionnaire has been created and is being acted upon and I have been on facebook in the current years EPY (Entrepreneur Placement Year) group talking to them their. With it all coming together like this the final pitch should go well.

Feedback from Jo

The main thing we had to go into uni for today was a session with our tutor Jo, to go over the feedback we’d had from Orangebox. It was mostly a recap on what we’d had on the day from the Orangebox team so I won’t rehash my post about the presentation but it was interesting to get Jo’s input and to have a face-to-face meetup with the rest of the team and discuss where we were up to with our own research and the website. 


Finding the time to meet together when we are so widely dispersed and all busy with out own lives is a challenge and not conducive to working as a team. This is always a shortfall with ongoing collaborative work for university projects. You can play-pretend that you are a business without the luxury of it actually being a paying business and these exercises tend to get in the way of any real work being achieved. 

We have a second feedback session planned for next week with Jo so we’ll have to see where the pitch is up to then.

A Biophilic Designer I can get

So ok, I’ve said I’m not convinced about the distinction of biophilic over good architecture, and I’m still not. But what I do appreciate is good design, and Bjarke Ingels does good design.


In this youtube video Ingels talks about 3 of his designs:


These videos all show good design with a strong biophilic bent.

Biophilic Design

In my previous post I mentioned biophilic design and that I would go into further detail about it. Here’s a definition from Biophilicdesign.net


Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development. (1)

which is making some quite strong claims that I’m not certain are fully backed up by evidence and some say that any health claims are overstated. The Skeptical Specifier goes into more detail in their blog here (2). 


So what do I think biophilic design is? In essence I think the term distinction without difference applies. Biophilic design is just good design with a slant to ethical practices and environmental considerations. Designing working and leisure environments which people are comfortable and productive in would be the aim of any good designer even if they didn’t use the biophilic title. When it comes to myself I wouldn’t give myself that distinction but I do enjoy nature, have ethical concerns over the environment and our impact on it so, while we have this brief we may as will stick a tree in the corner…


Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 13.47.29 (3)




  1. Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life. (2017). Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from http://www.biophilicdesign.net/
  2. Is Biophilia Really an Added Value in Architecture?. (2017). The Skeptical Specifier. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from https://skepticalspecifier.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/is-biophilia-really-an-added-value-in-architecture/
  3. Oliver Heath Design,. (2017). Image of an office with plants.

Formative Presentation

Leasing up to our first presentation to Orangebox things were pretty hectic getting all the slides together from 5 different people into one visually and logically cohesive whole and agreeing who was going to present which parts.


Natalie took lead in designing and arranging the slides and I think she did an amazing job. I’m a big fan of letting people do what they are good at and knowing your own limitations so why would I try to take ownership of design work when there are 3 talented graphic designers on the team? With the slides all arranged and ready to go we were able to chat over skype and assign roles for the presentation. Unfortunately Viola had to be away but with the other four of us there, there were plenty.


On the day we arrived nice and early at Orangebox and were warmly greeted by everyone there and provided drinks and plenty of comfortable seating to relax on until presentation time.


Natalie and I are both confident public speakers so we took the lead in presenting with Jade and Gemma chiming in with their parts. On the whole I think it went alright and the feedback was fairly positive with the main points for improvement being:

  • Reduce the amount of text
  • Re-order the the slides in a more logical way
  • Stress prince Andrew being the Duke of York in the Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre (DOYYEC)
  • Provide more information on who uses the DOYYEC, how they use the space and how they feel about it
  • To share the talking more evenly amongst the group

The last wasn’t helped by Natalie and I standing together and the other two being on the other side of the screen. Oh yeah, I should avoid just talking when things pop into my head as well.