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Intervention Architecture are one of our 7 shortlisted practices for the temporary redevelopment of the Anise Workshop in Forest Hill. Their proposal ‘The Arch and the Arbour’ uses elements of the chapel itself to inspire modular forms that create a functional and flexible co-working space. We asked Director Anna Parker a couple of questions about their response to the competition brief.

Intervention Architecture Ltd (IA) is an interdisciplinary design studio based in Birmingham. Our interest is in site responsive works, engaging with users throughout each stage, with each unique site context.

Anna Parker is IA’s founding Director, a qualified Architect leading the studio and team in Birmingham. Working with local artists and arts organisations, Anna has developed an interdisciplinary way of working which provides a cohesive design approach for projects, working across fields of design, interiors, furniture, temporary structures, exhibitions, events, lighting, homes, and mixed-use developments.

Your emphasis on the chapel’s arches makes implicit the chapel’s longevity and the flexibility of the Anise Workshop. How have you found working with this juxtaposition of spaces?

“As a practice, we enjoy responding to existing heritage building backdrops in playful and performative ways, adding a layer of texture to enhance surroundings. From the outset, we wanted to reference a contextual influence, with the modular arch joinery elements internally linking the external arch motifs.

The adaptability and flexibility of the workshop shown in our proposal encourages freedoms within the space, to offer a less pre-formed approach, more of a changeable shared space for meaningful communal exchange.

The re-constructable design ensures the enclosure-like arched areas can be easily re-arranged for one large show, group events, or contrastingly more permanent areas of creative practice – with the arches incorporating lockable storage to encourage repetitive use and a base for working.”

Your design responds directly to the existing architecture of the space whilst allowing for a playfulness and flexibility for the workshop’s new inhabitants. Can you tell us a bit more about how you see these sorts of adaptive interventions encourage collaborative ways of working and other kinds of creative practices?

“Collaboration requires the right balance of disruption and continuity. The adaptive nature of the intervention modules allow an open appropriation by the creative user, with a number of playful options in the coverings and storage types to encourage personalisation and shared ownership of the space. This design tactic creates opportunities to achieve the right level of disruption to be a catalyst for generating creative ideas.

From our own experience, we are providing a flatpack framework which balances openness for collaboration with quiet functions, from which we ourselves have grown our practice from a similar way of working.

The open plan shared nature of overall space creates a linking umbrella, with more private zones for practice use, the communal areas of the ‘stage seating’ and the ‘kitchen’ create a grounding for exchange of knowledge and skills, which may support collaborative working.”