Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Bibliotheek Dendermonde - Library Prison Dendermonde

Yesterday, the 31st of November we were given a new interior design assignment. We had the re-think the design of the library in the prison of Dendermonde. The space in which people live has a great impact on their behavior and health.

After visiting the library and the location of the new soon to be library in the prison, we had the opportunity to meet and chat to a prisoner who visits the library frequently and we chatted to the librarian who is an inmate. This gave me a great insight to how they use the library and it’s importance for the wellbeing of the prisoners.

Therefore, I feel this interior design assignment is not only going to be a place to store books but a place of refuge.

Capturing Venice.

There is nothing better than a three day weekend trip to Venice as a student how is on an Erasmus exchange in Europe.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

GIDE PROJECT- Final Hand in

After 8 weeks of blood, sweat, tears and long night, the Gide Project is Finished.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Assignment 4:Green space, urbanity, and health:how strong is the relation? by Jolanda Maas, Robert A Verheij, Peter P Groenewegen, Sjerp de Vries, Pet

The main purpose of this article is ‘to investigate the strength of the relation between the amount of green space in people’s living environment and their perceived general health’. This is a Dutch study and although the Netherlands is a densely populated country the authors think the same results would be found in the rest of Europe. The authors took into consideration different types of green space, pollution, lifestyle, education, income, age and class.

The most important information in this article is the findings of their research. The authors used a self-administered questionnaire. This was distributed via GP medical practices and was a large representative sample with over 76% positive response rate. There had been an assumption that those socio–economic groups who live in the country or were able to afford to move to the country were perceived to have a better quality of life and healthier lifestyle. No study until this one had looked at the impact of green space within our cities and its impact on the health of the population. The United Nations state that within the next 30 years more than two thirds of the population will live in urban environments. The Health Council of the Netherlands had done some research that indicated a connection between health and green space, however it identified gaps.

The authors used environmental data from the National Land Cover Classification that contains the type of land in every 25 x 25 m in the whole of the Netherlands to measure amount of green space around people’s homes. Many academic papers from around the world were use to support their research.

The conclusion in the article is that the percentage of green space in the vicinity of a person’s home has a positive impact on their perceived health. People who spent more time close to their home – the young and the elderly showed bigger benefits from green space. In addition, the less educated perceived a positive impact due to their lack of ability to move.

The key concepts underlying the author’s thinking are that different levels of socio-econmics groups and educational levels may have a significant impact on how an individual’s health is perceived and determines their ability to move.

The main assumption is that perceived health is as important as actual health and that green spaces have a positive impact on health. If we take this line of thinking seriously, then we need to make more provision of green space within our cities. Governments, planners and designers should take this research on board. If we fail to take this line of thinking seriously, then those people living in high-density urban areas where there is little green space may become marginalized and may become a burden on the health service.

The main point of view is that green space is not a luxury – it is essential. It is critical to the health and well being of a nation.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Assignment 4 - Cities for a small country by Richard Rogers and Anne Power

‘Cities for a small country’ is based on the findings of the Urban Task force, a group set up in 1998 by the UK government to look into the decline of the UK’s inner cities and to make recommendations to set a vision for our cities in the 21st Century.

The main purpose of this book is to highlight the problems facing the United Kingdom with regard to the decline in our inner cities, the increase in suburban sprawl and all the related environmental and social issues arising from this and to suggest ways to reverse this situation.

The key question that the author is addressing is ” what is the future of our cities?”. The book begins and ends with this question. As the population in the UK continues to grow and the world’s resources diminish our cities are going to have to adapt.

The most important information in this book is that the growth of the suburbs has had a direct detrimental effect on life in the cities.

The key secondary sources used are government published statistics such as the Department of Transport, the Department of the Environment, National Office of Statistics and the National Census.

The key primary sources used are the authors’ knowledge of European cities and social issues arising from living in inner cities.

The main conclusions in this book are that every effort should be made to encourage people back into cities. Higher density living will result in less crime, more attractive and more sustainable living as people become less reliant on cars.

The key concept we need to understand is that economic growth and “social inclusion are integrally related to the physical structure of cities”. The authors believe that the suburbs should not be extended and that by revitalising our cities will make them safer, more socially inclusive, and more desirable places to live. Our cities should be vibrant places where we work, play and live.

By these concepts the author means that action can be taken to reverse the decay in our cities. We can look to Europe where there are many good examples of cities that have regenerated. e.g. Barcelona, Bilbao, Copenhagen.

The main assumption underlying the author’s thinking is that with a growing population and with finite resources in the future action must be taken to regenerate our cities.

If we take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications are that tax laws should be changed to encourage builders to renovate rather than new build, recognising the embodied energy in existing homes. More building on brownfield sites to be carried out, increase the density of people living per hectare, improvements in public transport, design our cities for the changing face of families – more small houses etc

If we fail to take the author’s line of reasoning seriously our cities will become places where we work but where those who can afford to will not live in. This leaves those left in the city marginalised, in areas more prone to violence and vandalism. Also our cities will become grid-locked with cars as commuters continue to drive to and from work.

The main points of view presented in this book are to encourage debate about how our cities can be transformed into better places to live. Ensuring sustainability is at the core of all design, increase green space in our cities, higher density living which meets the needs of changing family size, improve city conditions through schools, policing and neighbourhoods by involving local community groups are some of the suggestions to help improve our cities.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Capturing Slovenia through a lens.

After 5 days traveling in Slovenia, I thought I would try to sum up the country in as little pictures as possible. Enjoy!

Dissertation Worksheet

Step One: Initial Ideas

The dissertation provides you with agreat opportunity to explore a design related topic of interest for me.

Step Two: Selection Criteria

When designing something I will typically identify a broad portfolio of potential concepts.

Step Three: Questioning your questions

I identify six questions that I might want to explore through the dissertation writing process.

Step Four: Moving Forward

I select one dissertation title and explore how I would undertake the research needed to complete this work.

Work experience in Belgium

During my time here in Belgium, I was lucky enough to have some work experience. This was working for a film set design company (Decosfeer) in Antwerp. I was helping construct a shop for a film (‘Groeten uit Balen’), which is set in the 70’s, where they would shoot three scenes which took three days.

This got me thinking. What is actually real when we see it on television?

All of the pictures that you see above are images of the shop. All the products you see look real, but I can guarantee that more than half of then are only boxes with nothing in them or it is not want is says on the packet or bottle.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Assignment 3

After a lovely meal of haggis and tatties, and it being washed down with whisky and irn bru. It was time to have another one of our group meeting. As we all decided to continue on with our topic we did for our wiki entry, we quickly got group storming ideas.

We took it in turn to think through everyone’s ideas. This gave me topic ideas that I hadn’t thought about. I got these ideas and I expanded on it myself.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Typography is something everyone sees in everyday life. So getting a lecture on this topic was weird but very interesting.

After not understanding a word that they where saying because it was all in Dutch, We were shown this Audi A1 car advert.

This video was followed by a very interesting assignment. This assignment was to find one letter of our initials, then find it in the natural world. I picked the letter ‘C’. Below are the letter pictures some are easier to see than other.


Seven Design Schools (all different European Countries) One Brief, hundreds of different concepts = a competition.

With the theme being ‘Exhibit’, my group consisted of five people

Rachel (Sco)

Charles (Sco)

Stephanie (Bel)

Cetien (Bel)

Rikkert (Bel)

A brainstorm was the first thing we did. Our re-occurring subject seemed to be the phrase ‘pop up’. This reminded us of our childhood, which made us think it was very childish. Following research we found that yes, the word pop up is childish but it can be done in a sophisticated way.

With this in mind it didn’t take long for us to come up with a brand, that we wanted to exhibit and sell - Oilily, a Dutch company, which makes clothes and accessories. It uses bright colour and a mix of different cultures.

After combining all these, we needed to present our mood board. It was inspired from a pop up book, where things sit in the foreground as well as slide.

We had a great response from the tutors, they said that it will be interesting to see where we take it next.

Next we had to come up with a design and concept. This was hard because we had to take our mood board and expand it further. Of course we had to remember our original goals. Weeks later we presented it.

As we are still working on this project, our final concept is not finished, but it will be a few weeks.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Interieur 2010, Kortrijk, Belgium

On Wednesday the 20th, the third year interior design department, Mechelen headed out to Kortrijk for the Interieur Expo 2010. This is thought to be the best design show in Europe. After an hour and a half on the buses, we finally arrived all fired up for an interesting day.

After seeing loads of things I liked and disliked, I have decided to give you the best and the worst of them all.

Starting with the one I like, it had to be the Fatboy exhibit. Fatboys are oversized beanbags, which can be made in any shape to fit you body. The exhibit had to be the most enjoyable and interesting. The layout contributed to this: it had a rotating platform on which it rotated 360 degrees. In the centre of this platform there was a tree, hanging from this was different shades of green small fatboys, which where made to look like leaves. At the back of this exhibition was where all the fatboy products were, from a fridge to a luggage bag.

The exhibit space I disliked the most had to be the company that designed shelving/storage. I felt that they were trying to modernize a concept that didn’t need changing. On top of that there was a storage unit, which was powered by electricity, to help open and close the cabinets. In my opinion, this was a luxury too far. Why waste power when it isn’t needed? This was obviously a luxury aimed at people who are very wealthy and who have large collections for display.

The craziest thing I saw the whole day had to be a large pink dog, which looked like a Chihuahua that was designed by Charles Kaisin. It was about the height of a three or four story building. It was completely made out of re–enforced cardboard and had two large projectors shining pink light over it. I had no idea what this had to do with an interior expo, but it was cool.

Overall I really enjoyed my day out to the interior exhibition. It was a great experience and one that I will not forget. The information I gathered will help me in my projects to come.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Furniture Project- Remix

First project in Mechelen is finished. The Project was called Remix. You had to buy something at a Charity shop and turn it into something else. I turned a Scaletrix Set into a 'Foodletrix'- where food in carried a top of a scaletrix car. As soon as i saw the set it reminded me of a sushi bar and I worked with the idea of transport food around a small area.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Assignment One ( Wiki)

Environmental Sustainability And Design

Environmental Sustainability and Design is the point at which design solutions are sought and applied to issues of environmental sustainability.

Brundtland (1987) defines sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs.’ At the United Nations World Summit in 2005, billed as a once in a generation opportunity, the members identified what is now known as ‘the three pillars of sustainability’ – environmental welfare, social welfare and economic welfare. These must be balanced and designers must not compromise on any of these areas. (1)

Environmental sustainability includes a broad spectrum of disciplines including health, transport, the built environment, infrastructure and town planning. Designers play an important role, but cannot solve the environmental issues by themselves. They need to engage with architects, engineers, politicians, government bodies and the general public. Environmental sustainability is at the top of the agenda for all major governments. This has particular focus in Scotland with the First Minister of Scotland taking personal responsibility in this area. The Scottish Government believes that they can lead Scotland into a sustainable future. First Minister, Alex Salmond said at the Sustainable Scotland Summit (2010) – ‘The Scottish Government puts … sustainability at the heart of everything we do’. (2)

The Three Piles Of Sustainability

Brief History:

The history of Environmental Sustainability and Design can trace its recent history to the Brundtland Report. The World Commission on Environment and Development produced this report. The report linked together social, economic, cultural and environmental issues into a global solution.(3) In the 1960s and 1970s people began to be concerned about the environment and the use of pesticides. Friends of the Earth and Green Peace were formed to campaign on urgent environmental and social issues. In the 1970s, the world faced several major oil crises with the cost of oil rising sharply and having a big impact on world economies. People began to question their reliance on fossil fuels and began to think about conserving energy and possible sources of renewable energy. The 1980s saw two large environmental disasters at Bhopal (1984 – gas leak resulting in the world’s worst industrial catastrophe with 15,000 deaths) (4) and Chernobyl (1986 – worst nuclear power plant accident in the world). In the late 1980s the term Green Design and Eco Design began to be used to consider the impact and life cycle of a product from the raw material, through production, manufacture, use and end of life while attempting to minimise the environmental impact of a product. This movement has been grown alongside our awareness of environmental issues and global warming. In the 1990s global warming became much debated and its impact on world economics. The Rio Summit in 1992 planned to set limits on CO2 emissions and The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 aimed at fighting global warming with 39 countries agreeing to reduce greenhouse gases.

This brings us up to date with design being an integral part of environmental sustainability.

However, environmental sustainability is not a new idea or concept. In the 19th Century the re-designing of our towns and cities helped eradicate major infectious killer diseases like cholera and TB by improving sanitation in the design of buildings. Designers are now using a similar approach in New York to try to solve the problems of obesity, stroke and heart disease. Research has discovered that people who live near a park or green space are less likely to suffer from a heart attack and will be slimmer and fitter.(5)

Before industrialization the concepts of using local resources, re-using, reducing and recycling were essential core values. Designers are now revisiting the past to help design and create an environmentally sustainable future.

Designers and Design Practices

Designers now have to consider the sustainability and impact of all materials used. Where does a material come from? How is it made? Could a locally sourced material be used in its place? Could a recycled product be used? These are all questions that designers have to ask. A material from abroad may be cheaper but there is an environmental cost of transportation. Issues such as natural products, re-usable, recyclable, low emission, and embodied energy all have to be considered.(6)

The concept of Cradle to Cradle was first introduced 25 years ago but Michael Braunart and William McDonough in their book of the same name have brought this issue of lifecycle design to the fore front. Products can and should be redesigned at the end of their life into a new product.

In August 2010 Scotland Housing Expo in Inverness showcased 52 houses created with the future in mind displaying. The latest ideas on design and sustainability to promote eco-friendly lifestyles, respectful of natural resources. (7)

There were examples of hemp being used as insulation, rubber and corrugated aluminium cladding, communal central heating from wood burning chips, timber houses and many design features to reduce the carbon footprint and decrease energy consumption. Each house stated its estimated annual heating costs.

Corrugated Aluminium Cladding

Scotland’s Housing Expo Sign


While it is important for designers to look to the past for examples of sustainable design, it is also important that designers and architects are at the head of eco technology and also on the technology that impacts the environment. For example, the 2010 BP oil disaster in the US illustrates the need for closer co-operation between engineers and designers to safeguard and protect the environment from major environmental disasters.

Designers must work within the three pillars of sustainability – environment, social and economic factors. For example: until the cost is significantly reduced and the pay back period is seen to reduce, solar energy is never going to take off – ‘It takes 100 years to pay back installation costs’. (8)

Team Work

Designers are no longer working in an isolated profession; they must work as part of a team. This team will be interdisciplinary and include specialists from a variety of fields. This may include health professionals, lawyers, economists, architects, education specialists and government bodies. This has given rise to organisations like Architecture and Design Scotland whose aims are to design a sustainable built environment in Scotland of which the Nation is proud. (9)

In August 2010 The Design Skills Symposium took place in Dundee to bring together designers, town planners and architects to study creating a better Scotland. This was collaboration between Architecture and Design Scotland, Mixed and Sustainable Communities Learning Network and Place Making Division of the Scottish Government. There were focused seminars delivering current research on placemaking and sustainability and an opportunity for learning through shared experience. (10)

The simple answer to all this: designers and design practices have to re-make the way we make things.


1. United Nations General Assembly. (2005) ‘World Summit New York Outcome Resolution’ A/60/1.

2. Sustainable Scottish Summit (June 2010). Scottish Government News Release 2

3. Sustainable development. (1987) The Report of the Brundtland Commission - ‘Our Common Future.’

4. Worst industrial disaster still haunts India. Available: 02.12.09

5. Heap, T. The Revenge of the Stairs. Available: 22.10.10

6. Knight, A. Hidden Histories: The Story of Sustainable Design. Available: 06.09

7. Scotland’s Housing Expo:

8. Hickman, M. Solar panels ‘take 100 years to pay back installation costs’. Available: 03.10.08

9. Architects and Design Scotland:

10. The Skills and Design Symposium Dundee. (August 2010).