Whilst trawling through the many photos of past projects we have done over the last twelve years it struck me how many interesting and challenging locations we have had to contend with.
Every location can introduce its own complexities and so to cope with these we use design processes that will consider any problems that might arise. Below I have listed a few past projects that have raised their own individual challenges and the ways in which we've overcome them.
1. Historical and Listed Buildings
The utmost priority when working in these buildings is to use no permanent fixings that will leave any damage or marks. That said, we find it best to approach the design as a completely freestanding structure. If we create a room within a room then we are not reliant on the existing architecture at all. Examples of this are when we installed a project at RIBA Portland place and another at Tate Liverpool, both of which are Grade 1 listed.
2. Working Abroad and in Remote Locations
We have often worked in Davos and St. Moritz, Switzerland. These glamorous locations, whilst picturesque, are at the end of a long and snowy train journey. Planning is the name of the game here as anything left behind or not thought of will take a number of days to get to site. That said, we try to allow for a certain amount of flexibility into the design so that any unforeseen obstacles can be dealt with without interfering with the vision of the end product. Davos has the added complication of being host to the World Economic Forum which means an extremely tight ring of security around the whole town.
3. Short Timescale Installations
The straight forward way of dealing with a short installation time is to design a display which involves as little onsite construction as possible. We try to produce elements that require only minimal fixing together on site, reducing install time and freeing us to concentrate on the finishing touches. We have done a number of projects in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern where we cannot begin work until the general public have vacated the building but have to be finished before guests to the event begin to arrive a short while later. Ease of transportation and delivery into the space is also of great importance.
4. At the Mercy of the Weather
Dangers when installing outdoors are pretty obvious and, being based in the UK, often challenging. Working on projects at The Chelsea Flower Show, CLA Game Fair and Broadgate in the City all meant we were open to the elements. Whether it be raining cats and dogs or blowing a gale, we have to make sure the installation can carry on regardless and that the finished product is still unaffected. The use of appropriate materials is of such importance here. Structures need to be waterproof and able to be wiped down. You also have to be careful not to build a structure that can act as a large sail and be blown away.
I think it is important that when thinking of these different challenges we do not see them as wholly negative aspects but simply as individual obstacles that, if considered logically, can easily be overcome.